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Ron Darling remembers how things changed for him because of the 1994-95 strike. His career stalled, and Darling returned for one final season in the major leagues after the labor stoppage was over. But he could tell he was a different pitcher.
Part of it was age. Darling would turn 35 during that final summer pitching for the Athletics, and baseball’s physical rigors had caught up with him. More subtly, the former Mets pitcher suspects the strike, which canceled the ’94 World Series and shortened the ’95 regular season to 144 games, sapped him emotionally.
“I know the layoff for an aging pitcher such as myself took away my edge,” Darling said this week in a phone conversation. “What do I mean by that? I lost my ability to concentrate for three hours. I lost kind of my mean streak. All of that stuff kind of went away in that time.”