Oh, What a Relief: Jim Coates
In both starting and relieving roles, Jim Coates was a critical component in the New York Yankees’ pitching success from 1960 to 1962. Effective in both roles, he wasn’t afraid of pitching tight to batters. And he was tough in the face of adversity, on the mound and in his career.
Coates was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and spent six seasons in the Yankees’ farm system. He won 14 games in the minors in 1955, and made his major league debut in 1956, only to suffer what could have been a career-ending fracture in his right arm. He recovered, though the injury sidelined him for the rest of that season. Coates won 14 games again in the minors in 1957, and made the Yankees roster to stay in 1959, going 6-1 with a 2.87 ERA as a reliever.
Valuable as both a starter and a reliever, Coates served in both roles for the Yankees over the next three seasons. He was 13-3 in 1960, leading the American League with an .813 winning percentage. He was 11-5 in 1961 and 7-6 with six saves in 1962.
Just after the beginning of the 1963 season, Coates was traded to the Washington Senators for pitcher Steve Hamilton. In 20 appearances with the Senators, he was 2-4 with a 5.28 ERA. In July of that same season, he was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared in only nine games with the Reds, and then was optioned to AAA San Diego, where he finished the 1963 season.
Coates was traded to the California Angels in 1965, and spent three years shuttling between the Angels and their AAA affiliate at Seattle. He appeared in only 51 games for the Angels over those three seasons, going 4-3 with a combined 4.02 ERA. He spent most of those years in the minors, winning 17 games for Seattle in 1967. He pitched for Hawaii in the Pacific Coast League in 1969 and 1970, but never made it back to the major leagues. He retired in 1970.
In nine big league seasons, Coates compiled a 43-22 record with a career earned run average of 4.00. He was a member of the American League All-Star team in 1960.