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MetsRewind: You were just 19 years old when you came up made of September with the Brewers and here you are in New York against the Yankees. You made your major league debut as a teenager.
Kevin Kobel: It was an old Yankee Stadium before it was renovated … It was a Saturday afternoon … the first guy I faced was Bobby Murcer. I had him 3-2 and I threw a fast ball up and then he swung at it. It was a ball and he immediately broke his bat …the next guy was Otto Velez. I struck him out on three pitches … then I got Jim Spencer to ground out to second base. I got out of that inning. Next inning: Fred Stanley was 2-2 (with the bases loaded). I threw a slider that didn’t break and Fred hit the ball down the line. It hit the pole … it was a grand slam. It was the only grand slam I ever gave up in the big leagues.
MetsRewind: There’s a difference between throwing and pitching, who taught you the most about pitching?
Kevin Kobel: I was a 11th round choice with the Brewers and went to a place called Newark, New York outside of Rochester … Al Wier was there, a real tough, tough guy … I really didn’t even get to throw for a week … Al Widmar goes, come here. We walk over to the, um, the bullpen mound is I’m gonna teach you how to pitch and need. He was my first-year coach. He was my big league pitching coach. I really respected him.
MetsRewind: But injuries followed you your entire career.
Kevin Kobel: I used to ice my arm. Nobody knows this. When I was with the Mets, I used to ice for about and hour-and-a-half before the game … I’ll be honest with you: It was frustrating at times that I couldn’t go out there with the stuff that I thought I possessed … I never found out how good I could be …
MetsRewind: You pitched your final major league baseball game at the age of 26. What were your passions beyond the game of baseball?
Kevin Kobel: As a kid, name two things you’d wanna do: One, play baseball — play professional sports — in the big leagues. And what’s the second thing? Be a fireman. I got to do both of those things really. I was a fireman for 27 years, which I’m proud of. I pulled some people from some buildings. I’ve been blessed that way so much … I stay busy. Besides dealing with Parkinson’s disease. I’m doing fine, man. I’m I did get my brain drilled though to stop the terrible shaking that I have … I’m pretty lucky. When I was 13 years old, I saw Denny McLain win his 31st game and I said, I’m gonna do that … and that’s what I did. Then to be a fireman gave me an opportunity to help people, which is a blessing in itself.