Don Gullett
Born: (1951-01-06)January 6, 1951
Lynn, Kentucky, U.S.
Died: February 14, 2024(2024-02-14) (aged 73)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 10, 1970, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
July 9, 1978, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Win–loss record109–50
Earned run average3.11
Career highlights and awards

Donald Edward Gullett (January 6, 1951 – February 14, 2024) was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed pitcher from 1970 through 1978. He was a member of the Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine dynasty that won four National League pennants and two World Series championships between 1970 and 1976. Gullett was also a member of the New York Yankees teams that won two consecutive World Series championships in 1977 and 1978.

After his playing career, Gullett served as pitching coach for the Reds from 1993 to 2005. In 2002, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Early life

Gullett was born in Lynn, Kentucky, and attended McKell High School in South Shore, Kentucky, where he was an outstanding three-sports athlete in baseball, football, and basketball. He began to pitch while in eighth grade.[1] As a high school pitcher, he once tossed a perfect game—including striking out 20 of the 21 hitters he faced. Gullett excelled as a high school football player as well, once scoring 72 points in a single game. He ran for 11 touchdowns and kicked 6 extra points.[2] He was named all-state in three sports his senior year (baseball, football, basketball). Gullett's legacy is remembered in a monument on the courthouse lawn in Greenup County, Kentucky, that declares that "This is Don Gullett Country."[3]

Professional career

Cincinnati Reds (1970–1976)

The Reds selected Gullett in the first round of the 1969 Major League Baseball draft.[4] He pitched for the Sioux Falls Packers of the Northern League that season.[5]

In 1970, Gullett impressed the Reds in spring training. Despite his inexperience, he made the big league roster of a team that would go on to win the NL pennant. Pitching in relief of starter Ray Washburn, Gullett debuted on April 10, 1970, on the road against the San Francisco Giants.[6] In his rookie season, Gullett appeared in 44 games (42 in relief) posting a 5–2 record and a 2.43 earned run average. In the 1970 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Gullett pitched 6+23 innings and allowed just one earned run (1.35 earned run average) as he and veteran Clay Carroll helped keep an injury-riddled pitching staff competitive in the series.[7] During the 1972 season Gullett suffered from hepatitis. That season turned out to be the only one in which he had a losing record.[8]

Gullett was the pitcher when Willie Mays hit the 660th and last home run of his Major League Baseball career on August 17, 1973.[9] Gullett also surrendered Hank Aaron's 660th home run on August 6, 1972.[10] He went 6–1 with a 1.83 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 54 innings pitched in July 1974, winning the National League Player of the Month Award.[11] In a 1975 National League Championship Series game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gullett pitched a complete game and hit a single and home run, collecting three runs batted in.[12]

Hall of Fame Manager Sparky Anderson predicted that Gullett would one day enter the Hall of Fame. As noted in the Gullett's biography in the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR): "The three best southpaws of the previous generation—Warren Spahn, Whitey Ford, and Sandy Koufax—were in the Hall of Fame. When Gullett celebrated his 25th birthday in 1976 he had already won 91 games—many more than Spahn (8), Ford (43), and Koufax (53) had won by that age."[13]

New York Yankees (1977–1978)

Following the 1976 season, Gullett became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees, the month after his Reds had swept them in the World Series.[14] His fourth start with New York came on a rainy day at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore on April 25. During the fourth inning, Gullett slipped and fell on the wet pitching mound, spraining his ankle and straining a muscle in his neck. The injury required him to wear a neck brace and miss some starts.[15] In his return on May 7, he struck out 10 and threw 154 pitches in a complete game, 11–2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.[16] He had a 14–4 season with the Yankees in 1977.

Shoulder surgery to repair a double tear of his rotator cuff in 1978 signaled the end of Gullett's career at age 27. He was released by the Yankees after the 1980 season.[17]

During a nine-year career, Gullett accumulated 109 wins and posted a 3.11 earned run average and tallied 921 strikeouts.[18] Playing for only nine seasons, Gullett was a member of six World Series teams (1970, '72, '75, '76, '77, and '78), including four consecutive world champions ('75 and '76 Reds, and '77 and '78 Yankees). He was injured during the 1978 World Series and left off the Yankees roster.[19]

Later baseball career

In 1989, Gullett played for the St. Lucie Legends of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.[20]

In 1993, Gullett rejoined the Reds as pitching coach. He held the position until being fired mid-season in 2005.[21]

Gullett was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2002.[22]

Personal life

Gullett married his wife, Cathy, in 1969. The couple were parents of a son and two daughters.[23]

Gullett resided at and owned a farm in his hometown of Lynn in Greenup County, Kentucky. Tobacco was the primary crop grown on the farm during the 1970s and 1980s.[24] About 800 Cannabis plants being cultivated on his farmland were discovered by the Kentucky State Police on August 1, 1977.[25] He denied any knowledge of the plants. The farmland's caretaker was his brother Jack, who was indicted on a charge of trafficking in a controlled substance the following month on September 30.[26]

Gullett suffered a heart attack in 1986. He had been a cigarette smoker.[27] He had another heart attack in 1990 and had triple bypass cardiac surgery in June of that year.[28][29]

Gullett died on February 14, 2024, at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, due to heart issues and other natural causes at the age of 73.[30][31]


  1. ^ Hunter, Al. "Unlucky Don Gullett's Lucky Decade". The Weekly View. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  2. ^ Kaiser, Robert (October 1, 1989). "Don Gullett's Spectacular Career Only a Memory". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  3. ^ Kaiser, Robert (October 1, 1989). "Don Gullet's Spectacular Career Only a Memory". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  4. ^ Reading Eagle (June 6, 1969) "California Outfielder Picked First in Draft" Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "The Spokesman-Review 01 Oct 1989, page 75".
  6. ^ "The Cincinnati Post 11 Apr 1970, page 10".
  7. ^ The Deseret News (April 17, 1970) "Gullet Relieves, Wins Baseball Debut" Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  8. ^ Newspapers, Robert Kaiser, Knight-Ridder (October 1989). "DON GULLETT'S SPECTACULAR CAREER ONLY A MEMORY". Retrieved July 15, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Waldstein, David (April 22, 2015). "On the Night Willie Mays Hit No. 660, It Was Just Another Number". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  10. ^ Inabinett, Mark (April 8, 2015). "Beyond 715: Hank Aaron's most famous home run plus nine other memorable round-trippers". Advance Local. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  11. ^ "The South Bend Tribune 07 Aug 1974, page 43".
  12. ^ "The Times Recorder 05 Oct 1975, page 12".
  13. ^ "Don Gullett, World Series champion with Reds and Yankees, dies at 73". February 14, 2024.
  14. ^ Beaver County Times (November 18, 1976) "Gullet Yankees' Latest Millionaire" Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Chass, Murray (April 26, 1977). "Yanks Down Orioles for 6th in Row". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Montgomery, Paul L. (May 8, 1977). "White, Rivers and Nettles Homer". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Daily News 06 Feb 1986, page 125".
  18. ^ "Don Gullett Statistics and History |". Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  19. ^ "1978 World Series Rosters". Star Tribune. October 10, 1978. p. 27. Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  20. ^ "The Stuart News 09 Aug 1989, page 21".
  21. ^ "Last-place Reds fire manager Miley". June 21, 2005.
  22. ^ "The Cincinnati Enquirer 21 Jul 2002, page Page 32".
  23. ^ Embry, Mike (September 26, 1989). "DOWN ON THE FARM, EAGER FOR THE MAJORS". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  24. ^ Embry, Mike. "Don Gullett Pitches for Own Farm Team," The Associated Press (AP), Sunday, September 24, 1989. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  25. ^ Smith, Red. "Sounds in a Long, Hot Summer," The New York Times, Wednesday, August 3, 1977. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  26. ^ Rogers, Thomas. "People in Sports," The New York Times, Tuesday, October 4, 1977. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  27. ^ "Gullett Remains Hospitalized After Suffering a Heart Attack". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. February 4, 1986. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  28. ^ Faber, Charles. "Don Gullett". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  29. ^ Company, Tampa Publishing. "Bad health still plagues Don Gullett". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  30. ^ "Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Gullett passes away at age 73".
  31. ^ Don Gullett obituary, Morton-Hunt Family Funeral Home
Awards and achievements Preceded byBuzz Capra National League Player of the Month July 1974 Succeeded byLou Brock