Pete Garrity has never been much of a crowd-pleaser, but it doesn't bother him. The Alexandria Mariners' right-hander is content to let his statistics do the talking.
Garrity, a 1977 Georgetown University graduate, has never been able to overpower hitters. But he has been able to utilize pin-point control on his sinker and slider to amass a 22-8 record, with 13 saves in his two seasons with Alexandria.
By adding a curve ball to his repertoire and mastering early-season control problems, Garrity has compiled one of Carolina League's best won-lost records this season at 10-2 and has graduated from the bullpen to a spot in the starting rotation.
The 6-foot, 195-pound native of Arlington, Mass., said he never has been the favorite of the home fans, "not in any stretch of the imagination. They know I'm consistent and steady. Everybody likes to watch a pitcher throw real hard, but consistency is the name of the game. I'm not very exciting. I throw a lot of ground balls, don't strike out many.I guess (Alexandria flame-thrower Bryand) Clark is a real pleaser.
"I know a guy like myself has to have good stats. There's no substitute for speed, I know, but if speed was the only measure of a pitcher, Nolan Ryan would be the greatest pitcher ever. The old saying goes: "A pitcher without control has nothing;""
Officials for the parent Seattle Mariners have kept close watch on Garrity's statistics, but admit hard throwers such as Clark usually get the first chance to advance in most baseball organizations.
"It's always tougher to gain the opportunity when you're not flashing that arm," said Steve Schryver, Seattle's assistant director of player development. "But when a guy puts together the type of season Pete has, you have to disregard the velocity. I don't care who makes the club, whether he throws 100 miles an hour or 70. What counts when they get out there is they keep the ball down, allow as few runs as possible."
Garrity credits a meeting of two Irishmen on St. Patrick's Day as a key to his success. Before his senior season at Georgetown, Garrity visited the New York Mets' 1977 spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Tom Seaver, who is of Scottish-Irish descent, showed the youngster a new grip that made his fast ball rise in on right-handed batters to complement his sinking fast ball. Seaver also gave Garrity's confidence a boost by complimenting his pitching mechanics.
After completing a two-year career at Georgetown with a 10-10 record (the Hoyas were 15-52), Garrity earned a spot on last year's Alexandria Dukes. Working as a short reliever, Garrity compiled a 12-6 record with 11 saves and a 2.56 ERA to account for 40 percent of the Dukes' 58 victories.
He was invited to Seattle's training camp this spring and, after exhibiting control problems, which Garrity attributes to an ill-advised offseason weight program, he was assigned again to Alexandria, where his contract calls for the minimum $600 per month, $100 a month more than last season.
"When I saw him pitch in spring training, to be honest, I didn't think he was a prospect," Seattle General Manager Lou Gorman said. "But he's pitched a lot better as the season's gone on."
Garrity took some early-season lumps as he battled to regain his control, but he had won his last six decisions since May 28 before a loss Friday. On June 16, he threw a five-hitter against Kinston in a 2-1 triumph that both he and Manager Bobby Floyd point to as a turning point in Garrity's season.
He hardly had been touched since until Friday. After working short relief early in the season and middle-inning relief more recently, Garrity now appears entrenched as a starter.
Schryver says Garrity will "be invited to spring training and given a chance to make the AA and AAA teams," although AA appears to be the next stop.
"I still need some more seasoning, but I think I can pitch in AAA because of my control and my sinker," said Garrity, who has walked only 23 batters in 93 2/3 innings this season and permitted only three home runs in his professional career. "You have to believe you can make it all the way (to the major leagues). If not, the whole thing seems pointless." CAPTION: Picture, Pete Garrity warms up in the Mariner bullpen. The former George Washington pitcher is 10-2 this Carolina League season. By Tom Allen - The Washington Post