07/17/2002 5:34 PM ET
Where've you gone, Paul Mirabella?
Paul Mirabella's stats
For the amount of mileage left-hander Paul Mirabella accumulated during 13 well-traveled seasons in the Major Leagues, being in the tire business seems appropriate.
After a Major League career that included stints with the Rangers (1978 and '82), Yankees (1979), Blue Jays (1980-81), Orioles (1983), Mariners (1984-86) and Brewers (1987-90), the 48-year-old has settled down in Clifton, N.J.
"What I am doing now is the complete opposite of playing baseball," he said. "That was fantasy and this is reality."
Mirabella, who grew up and attended Montclair State, was the Rangers' first-round draft pick in 1976 and he had the visions of virtually every other high draft pick -- especially a first-rounder. He dreamed of becoming a big league star and making a career out of the game he loved to play.
"I think statistics-wise, I could have done better," he said of his 19-29 career record and 4.09 ERA. "I was tougher on myself than I probably should have been, but I had such high expectations of myself. But I always gave 100 percent and that's all you can ask."
He also gave his managers a few gray hairs, no doubt. The baseball gods seemed to invent the full count just for guys like Mirabella, who had nearly as many walks (239) in his career as he did strikeouts (258) in 499 innings.
"When I first broke in, I threw pretty hard," he said. "But when I became a reliever, I changed my ways a little bit, becoming more of a sinkerball pitcher. I enjoyed relieving because you knew you had a chance to pitch almost every night."
Mirabella's "Travels Around the Majors" landed in Seattle prior to the 1984 season.
He had been with the Orioles the previous year, spending half the season at Triple-A Rochester and getting promoted to Baltimore when Tippy Martinez was injured. Mirabella spent the remainder of the season with the big league club, who won the AL East championship and then the World Series.
Although Mirabella was able to experience the pomp and circumstance of a Fall Classic, he wasn't in uniform, having been left off the playoff roster. That's as close as he came to participating in a World Series.
Mirabella became a free agent at the end of the '83 season and signed with the Mariners for two reasons. "They had interest in me and the manager was Del Crandall. I had played for him a few years in the Dominican Republic and I thought he was a great man."
The first season with the Mariners turned out to be just what Mirabella had hoped. He was used a lot, appearing in 52 games (it became his personal best), and compiling a 2-5 record and 4.27 ERA for a team that went 74-88, finishing 16 games behind in the AL West.
"It was kind of an exciting year," he recalled. "Not that we won a lot of games, because we didn't, but some young kids like Alvin Davis and Mark Langston broke in. There was a good bunch of people together."
The worst part of the season for Mirabella came in September, when Crandall was fired and replaced by Chuck Cottier. Mirabella spent two more seasons with Seattle, but appeared in only 18 more games and departed prior to the 1987 season.
"We loved the Seattle area," he said, looking back to his days with the Mariners. "People treated us well and it was a great place for our family."
The Mirabella clan consisted of daughters Jaime, who is now 21 and a junior at Rutgers University, and Heather, a 17-year-old high school senior. Mirabella and his wife, Diane, added another daughter to the family six years ago when Kelsey was born. Jaime and Heather both are honor students and played field hockey in high school.
Mirabella became a full-time dad and husband after the 1990 season -- one of his best MLB seasons. The lefty had a 4-2 record and 3.97 ERA for the Brewers that final season.
He returned to his native New Jersey and joined a cousin in the tire exporting business, starting Garfield Tire, Inc. "We buy and sell used tires, sending them virtually everywhere," he said. "We send them to Latin America, Guatemala, Trinidad and Africa, among other places."
The tires, which have from 30 to 50 percent of their tread remaining, are purchased from nearly 75 clients -- including Pep Boys and Sam's Club -- and then sold and shipped overseas.
The business and his three daughters keep him busy, but he still keeps in touch with the game and friends he made. Former MLB pitcher Danny Darwin, who Mirabella played with in Texas, remains a close buddy. They talk regularly on the phone and go hunting in Texas every year. Mirabella also plays in Major League Alumni and other local charity golf tournaments, watches a game at Yankee Stadium now and then and keeps up on the current baseball events.
"I read the stats every day to see if Ichiro is still leading the league in hitting," he said.
Jim Street covers the Mariners for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of MLB or its clubs.
By Jim Street / MLB.com