Saturday, December 19, 2015

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Scott Proctor

I was going through some emails that we receive from our awesome readers, hat tip to Betty for the idea for this article, and I opened an article about Scott Proctor. Proctor was one of the many arms that then Yankees manager Joe Torre “ruined” out of his bullpen. Remember, towards the latter part of his tenure with the club the Yankees were not winning World Series Championships annually like they did in the latter part of the 90’s and into the 2000’s and George Steinbrenner was livid. Steinbrenner was writing the biggest checks at the time and demanded greatness and in his mind that greatness started with the manager. Torre was managing every game for his job and stuck to using the relievers and players he trusted, one of those arms was Proctor. With that said we remember the Yankees reliever who threw in 80+ games multiple times in his career, the reliever that loved to hit Kevin Youkilis in a Red Sox uniform and the reliever that battled alcoholism for much of his ride along the way. Remembering Yankees of the Past, this is Scott Proctor.

Scott Christopher Proctor was traded to the New York Yankees along with Bubba Crosby for Robin Ventura on July 31, 2003 and New York immediately stashed their new weapon in Triple-A. Proctor was a closer for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and was seen throwing 100 MPH or higher there which caught the eyes of the Yankees brass and manager Joe Torre. Proctor ended up making his MLB debut on April 20, 2004 against the Chicago White Sox as a mop up man. Proctor pitches 2.1 innings of relief and allowed two earned runs. Proctor’s results that season were not ideal but he quickly became a trusted weapon for the Yankees and even more quickly became a mainstay inside the Yankees bullpen.

Proctor pitched in just 26 games in 2005 before becoming the everyday guy we all remember in 2006 under Torre. Proctor led the league in 2006 with 83 appearances and often pitched for more than one inning or on consecutive days. Proctor joined Brian Bruney and Kyle Farnsworth as the Yankees bridge to Mariano Rivera. Proctor crossed the 80 appearance threshold again in 2007 leading GM Brian Cashman to confront Torre and Proctor about his overuse. To make a long story short Torre would ask Proctor if he was okay to pitch and Proctor would always say yes. Cashman wanted Proctor to be more open and honest with Torre before it was too late for his right arm, but it already was.

Proctor’s career took a turn for the worse after 2007 and it landed him off the Yankees and with the Atlanta Braves before the 2009 season. Proctor stayed with Atlanta through most of the 2011 season before the Yankees brought Proctor back on a new minor league deal. On August 13, 2011 the Yankees re-signed him and sent him back to Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders before calling him up on September 1st. Proctor pitched sparingly for the Yankees in 2011 before electing free agency and before he ended his tenure with the Yankees.

Proctor’s tenure with the Yankees was a roller coaster ride of sorts to say the least. Proctor caught some heat specifically with the Yankees after being accused of intentionally throwing at batters with the intention for retaliation, ask Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox. On June 1, 2007 Proctor plunked Youkilis in the shoulder after two Yankees batters had been hit. Youkilis was the fifth batter to be hit in the game and Proctor was ejected after both benches cleared and Youkilis had to be held back by then Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Proctor protested that he did not intentionally hit Youkilis but was still suspended by the league after the incident for one-game. In other instance Proctor threw behind Seattle Mariners infielder Yuniesky Betancourt after his teammate Josh Phelps was hit by a pitch. Phelps was only hit after the Mariners catcher Kenji Johima was hit so Proctor incited another rally that had seemingly already been handled by the unwritten rules of the game. Another retaliation pitch and another suspension for Proctor.

When the Yankees and Scott Proctor knew he had a problem was on June 30, 2007 when he was seen lighting fire to his equipment on the field. Proctor has taken the loss in each of the last two Yankees games and was visibly upset after pitching poorly against the Oakland Athletics. It was then that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera too him under his wing and Proctor realized he had an alcohol problem. Proctor revealed in 2009 that he was a recovering alcoholic and credited Mariano with urging him to straighten his life out. Proctor began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and seemingly turned his life around, although it was too late to save his career.

When all was said and done Proctor pitched for the Yankees, Dodgers, Braves and the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization but he definitely made his name for himself and his mark with New York. Today we remember you Scott, hope you’re well. 

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