One-time Jays pitching coach Mel Queen dies
The Toronto Blue Jays will have heavy hearts Friday night when they begin a five-game road trip in Minnesota.
Earlier in the day, the team announced the passing of former pitching coach Mel Queen, who played a large role in the development of the Blue Jays' homegrown players during their 11 straight winning seasons. He was 69.
"Our organization would not be what it is today without the contributions of Mel Queen," Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston said in a statement released by the team. "In Toronto, he was both the major league pitching coach and manager, but his real strength was in the minor leagues."
The cause of death was not divulged.
Queen served as pitching coach from 1996 to 1999 and was interim manager for five games in 1997 following the firing of now-retired manager Cito Gaston.
One-time Blue Jays pitching coach Mel Queen was instrumental in helping shape the careers of several players. They include:
- SP Chris Carpenter
- SS Alex Gonzalez
- OF Shawn Green
- SP Roy Halladay
- SP Pat Hentgen (now the team's bullpen coach)
- 2B Jeff Kent
- OF Shannon Stewart
- SP Todd Stottlemyre
- RP Mike Timlin
- SP David Wells
- SP Woody Williams
Queen returned to the Jays organization last season as senior adviser to the Jays player development system.
"He joined us in 1986 and whether he was serving as the farm director, minor league pitching co-ordinator or in a number of other roles, Mel was instrumental to our system being one of the most respected in the game," Beeston said.
"He was not only a great coach and passionate instructor; he was a great friend to me and everyone in the organization, and he earned the utmost respect from the young men who had the pleasure of working with him."
Queen followed in his father's footsteps and played nine seasons in the majors with Cincinnati (1964-69) and the California Angels (1970-72). He started out as an outfielder with the Reds before converting to starting pitcher in 1966 and posting a 20-17 record and 3.14 earned-run average in 140 appearances.
Queen's father, Melvin, was a major league pitcher for the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1942-52.
After his playing days, the younger later moved into coaching with the Cleveland Indians before joining the Blue Jays as a pitching instructor in '86. He was named director of player development in 1990 and joined the Jays as pitching coach six years later.
During his four seasons in that role, three Toronto hurlers won Cy Young Awards as the top pitcher in the American League — Pat Hentgen in 1996 and Roger Clemens in 1997 and '98.
Queen moved to pro scouting for three seasons before leaving the Blue Jays, only to return in 2008.