Some babies are born with a particular skill set to play baseball. Mark Gubicza was born to pitch. He parlayed his natural talent into a 14-year major league career spent primarily with the Kansas City Royals, where he achieved great success and contributed to him still being involved in the game years after he threw his last pitch.
The right-handed Gubicza was drafted out of William Penn Chart School in Philadelphia in the second round (34th overall selection) by Kansas City in 1981. He found immediate success and come 1983 won 14 games in Double-A, showing he had little left to prove in the minors. He was promoted to the Royals the following year and never looked back.
He won 10 games as a rookie and was a cog in the Kansas City rotation for years. His best season came in 1988 when he was 20-8 with a 3.04 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 269.2 innings, finishing third in Cy Young Award voting.
Beginning in 1990, Gubicza battled some injuries that hampered his effectiveness and he won more than 10 games in a season just once after 1989. After 13 years with the Royals he was traded to the California Angels in advance of the 1997 season. He lasted just two games with them and although he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers the following year, he never appeared in another major league game again.
In his 14 seasons, Gubicza was a combined 132-136 with a 3.96 ERA and 1,371 strikeouts. He was a member of two All Star teams and was a key part of the 1985 Royals, who won that year’s World Series.
Since hanging up his glove as a player he has coached high school ball and most recently is working as a television broadcaster for Angels’ games. He recently took some time to answer some questions about his career in baseball.
Mark Gubicza Interview
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player(s) growing up was a tie between Jim Palmer and Steve Carlton.
Can you describe your draft experience with the Kansas City Royals in 1981- How did you find out you had been selected?: I was playing stick ball in the schoolyard by my house in Philly when my dad came driving by to tell me I was drafted by the Kansas City Royals! Kansas City and Philly had just played in the 1980 World Series versus each other. I was at the clincher with my dad. Ironic that I got drafted by the team I was rooting against eight months later. Turned out perfectly for me though.
In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?: George Brett was the most talented ball player I ever played with. And Bo Jackson was the best athlete I ever played with or ever saw in my life. They both had tremendous work ethics and drive.
What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: Winning the 1985 World Series is easy to say, but making the 1988 All-Star team with all those future Hall-of-Famers on it was the tops!
Who was the most impactful veteran you played with and why do you choose them?: Dennis Leonard was the player I learned the most from. He was a former 20 game winner with Kansas City, but had to endure a major injury to come back to being a great pitching again. Sat with him and talked to him about life, baseball and future every day.
What is one thing about your career you would like to do differently?: My only real regret in my career is that I didn’t pitch well for the Angels. When I was traded to them, I wanted to be a dominant pitcher again and get them to the playoffs. I got hurt that year and shortly thereafter retired from baseball. Still to this day bummed I didn’t pitch better for them.
What are you up to since retiring as a player?: After I retired, I became the head coach of the Chaminade High School baseball team. Continue to help them out till this day. Joined Fox Sports in 2000 and have worked for them since. I’ve been the Angels Color Analyst for the last 13 years on TV.
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