Steve Carlton, the only pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards, was given his unconditional release by the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday after struggling for two seasons with a shoulder injury and control problems.
"The Steve Carlton era has ended in Philadelphia," Phillies President Bill Giles said, emotion choking his voice and tears on his cheeks. Several times during the news conference, Giles had to stop to regain his composure.
"The decision was mine," he said.
Giles said that Carlton, whose 318 victories place him 10th on the all-time major league list and sixth in the National League, resisted to the end pleas to retire.
"He still thinks he can pitch and win," Giles said. "It has been 14 memorable and remarkable years. The greatest left-hand pitcher in Phillies history and one of the greatest pitchers of all time will no longer be pitching in Philadelphia.
"I want to thank Steve for all he's done for the Phillies and for Philadelphia."
Carlton was not at the news conference, maintaining the silence with the media he imposed some eight years ago because of alleged references to his personal life by writers.
In a tape played at Veterans Stadium before the Phillies' game against the Chicago Cubs last night, Carlton told fans he still can pitch. "I still have goals to accomplish and still can pitch effectively," the tape said in part. Carlton also thanked Giles and wished his teammates luck.
Giles said Carlton, 41, is hopeful that someone else in baseball will sign him, and Giles said the Phillies had inquiries from an American League and a National League club.
In his last start, Carlton gave up six hits, six earned runs and six walks in five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday night.
He gave up 25 earned runs and 27 hits through 20 1/3 innings in his last five starts. He was 4-8 for the season with a 6.18 ERA.
In 21 seasons, Carlton has a record of 318-223 and ranks among the top 20 in six all-time pitching categories.
Carlton is in the final year of a four-year contract worth $1.1 million per season. He began his major league career with the Cardinals in 1965 and was traded to the Phillies in February 1972 for pitcher Rick Wise.
In last night's game, Shawon Dunston drove in three runs, including two in a four-run sixth inning, as the Cubs beat the Phillies, 10-7, to end a three-game losing streak.
Mets 5, Expos 2: Kevin Mitchell and Lenny Dykstra had RBI doubles in New York's four-run fourth inning as the Mets beat visiting Montreal to avoid a three-game sweep.
The victory moved the first-place Mets nine games ahead of Montreal in the National League East and was only their second in six games against the Expos this season.
Padres 3, Giants 1: Left-hander Dave Dravecky singled in two runs and ended a personal four-game losing streak as San Diego won in San Francisco.
Dravecky (6-7) drove in two runs in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Vida Blue (5-4) took the loss after winning four straight starts.
Reds 4, Astros 3: Dave Parker singled home Tracy Jones from second base with two out in the 10th inning for visiting Cincinnati.
John Franco (1-4), who worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the ninth, gained the victory and Aurelio Lopez (1-1) got the loss.
Cardinals 2, Pirates 1: St. Louis won its sixth straight when Vince Coleman scored from second base on Tom Herr's single and an error by right fielder Joe Orsulak with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning.
It was the Cardinals' 14th straight victory over the Pirates in Busch Stadium.
Braves 3, Dodgers 2: Bob Horner drove in two runs with an eighth-inning double and Gene Garber snuffed out a rally in the bottom of the inning to give Rick Mahler and Atlanta the victory in Los Angeles.
Mahler (9-5) has won eight of his last nine decisions and Garber has eight saves.