Ronald Maurice Darling, Jr. (born August 19, 1960) is an American former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Montreal Expos. Darling currently works as a color commentator for national baseball coverage on TBS as well as for the Mets on both SNY and WPIX.
During his 13-year career, Darling amassed a 136Ц116 won-loss record, with 13 shutouts. He threw 1,590 strikeouts and had a 3.87 ERA. In 1985, he was picked for the All-Star team.
Darling's weak point was control; he finished seasons in the top four in base on balls three times. He was considered one of the better fielding pitchers of the time, and won a Gold Glove Award in 1989. Darling had one of the best pickoff moves among right-handers. An above-average athlete, he was sometimes used as a pinch runner. In 1989, he hit home runs in two consecutive starts.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and French-Canadian father, Darling speaks fluent Chinese and French. After growing up in Millbury, Massachusetts, he attended St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
He later attended Yale University, where he had a dual major in French and Southeast Asian history. He was set to graduate in December 1982, but was drafted in June 1981.
At Yale, Darling began his college career for the Yale Bulldogs in the Ivy League as a position player, and did not pitch regularly until his sophomore season. On May 21, 1981, Darling faced future Mets teammate Frank Viola, then of St. John's University, and had a no-hitter through 11 innings. In the 12th inning, St. John's broke up the no-h
tter and then scored on a double-steal to beat Darling 1Ц0. Darling's performance remains the longest no-hitter in NCAA history, and the game is considered by some to be the best in college baseball history.
Darling went on to play more games in Major League Baseball than any Yale alumnus since 19th-century pitcher Bill Hutchinson.
Darling was the last former Yale Bulldog to reach the Major Leagues until pitcher Craig Breslow made his debut in 2005, and was not followed by another Yale player until catcher Ryan Lavarnway in 2011.
He was selected in the 1st round (9th overall) of the 1981 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers. He put up mediocre numbers with the AA Tulsa Drillers and, before the 1982 season began, he and Walt Terrell were traded to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli in an ill-advised trade. For the Mets, Darling and Terrell would eventually combine for seven double-digit win seasons. They traded Terrell three seasons later for Howard Johnson. For Texas, Mazzilli never regained his limited glory of the late 1970s.
Darling would have compiled decent numbers with the AAA Tidewater Tides in 1982 and 1983 except for very high base on balls counts during both seasons. Despite that, Darling was called up to the majors in late 1983. The Mets had the worst record in the National League and second-worst in the majors when Darling debuted on September 6, 1983. He was impressive in that start but left the game down 1Ц0 and the Mets lost 2Ц0. The Mets were also last in offense in the N.L. Darling's 0Ц3 start were all in decent pitching performances. He finished his season with a complete game victory and was in the majors for good.