Remembering Former Yankees Pitcher Matt Keough (1955-2020)

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Remembering Former Yankees Pitcher Matt Keough (1955-2020)

Postby FW57cLIPPER51 » Tue May 05, 2020 12:43 pm

Remembering Former Yankees Pitcher Matt Keough (1983-1984) (1955-2020)

Matt Keough Bio Baseball Reference Edited by Clipper.

Pitcher Matt Keough was the son of former MLB Player Marty Keough and the nephew of Joe Keough and Tom Keough. He is best known as one of the workhorse starters for the Oakland A's during the early 1980s.

Matt Keough was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 7th round of the 1973 MLB June Amateur Draft from Corona del Mar HS (Newport Beach, CA). He pitched in the A’s Minor League system with the 1976-1977 Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League). He joined the A’s in 1977, after going 9-12 with a 3.81 ERA in 26 games with the AA Lookouts. He would go 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA in 7 games with the 1977 A’s. Keough was named to the 1978 AL All-Star team in his rookie season pitching for the A’s, when he recorded an ERA of 3.24 that belied his 8-15 won-loss record in 32 games. However, he had a dreadful sophomore year in 1979, tying a MLB record by losing his 1st 14 decisions and finishing the year with a 2-17 record with a 5.04 ERA in 30 games. His winning percentage of .105 was the worst recorded by a MLB Pitcher since 1916 (Jack Nabors and Tom Sheehan).

Keough enjoyed a resurgence after the A’s hired Billy Martin as their Manager in 1980. He tossed a shutout in his 1st outing of the season. Matt won his 1st 3 starts. As part of Martin's "five aces" rotation, Keough and his fellow starters were subjected to a workload unheard of for modern pitchers. Keough completed 13 of his 1st 16 starts and 16 of his 1st 20 in 1980. His 20 complete games for the 1980 AL season placed him 3rd in the AL behind A’s teammates Rick Langford and Mike Norris. For the 1980 AL season, he recorded a 16-13 record with a 2.92 ERA in 34 games. Matt was named 1980 AL Comeback Player of the Year.

Keough won his 1st 5 starts for the A's in 1981, but he began to feel pain in his right pitching shoulder in May of that year. He pitched through the pain and performed admirably in a losing effort in Game 3 of the 1981 ALCS, giving up 1 earned run in 8 1/3 innings in a game that the Oakland A's lost 4-0 to the New York Yankees. Matt had finished the 1981 AL season with a 10-6 record with a 3.40 ERA in 19 games.
The wear and tear began to catch up with Keough, as he had an awful season in 1982, putting up a 5.72 ERA. He walked more batters than he struck out. He led the AL in HRs allowed (38), earned runs allowed (133), and losses (18). He finished the 1982 AL season with a 11-18 record, while appearing in 34 games for Oakland.

In 1983, the A’s New Manager Steve Boros had used him as a Reliever, he was no longer a front-line starter for the team. He was 2-3 with a 5.52 ERA at the time he was traded to the Bronx. On June 15,1983, Matt Keough was traded by the Oakland A's to the New York Yankees for 2 Minor League Players: P Ben Callahan and 1B/DH Marshall Brant. He continued to struggle, putting up a 5.33 ERA in 99 2/3 innings. Yankees Manager Billy Martin had told the NYC Sportswriters at the time the trade had been announced that he was going to use Matt as a Starter, not as a Reliever. Matt posted a 3-4 record with a 5.17 ERA in 12 games for the 1983 Yankees. In 1984, he voluntarily went down to the AA Nashville Sounds (Southern League) in the spring, in an unsuccessful attempt to learn a knuckleball, and he finally succumbed to the right arm shoulder pain. Keough was placed on the DL by the Yankees with a strained rotator cuff. At the end of the 1984 AL season, Matt was released by the team.

During the 1984 MLB off-season, Matt was signed as an MLB Free Agent by the St. Louis Cardinals. He made 4 appearances with a 0-1 record and a 5.04 ERA the Cardinals in 1985, who later released him. Then he was signed as an MLB Free Agent by the Chicago Cubs. Matt managed to make the Cubs 1986 MLB Opening Day MLB 25-man roster, as a non-roster invitee out of their MLB spring training camp, but he was released by the Cubs on June 14th. He had posted a 2-2 record with a 4.97 ERA in 19 games for the team. Keough, was then signed by the Houston Astros, making 10 appearances and 5 starts for the team, while posting a 3-2 record with a 3.09 ERA. On October 26, 1986, Matt was released by the Astros.

Matt Keough was signed by as a Free Agent by the Hanshin Tigers (Japan Central League). He would pitched for the Tigers until the 1990 JCL season. He began his Nippon Pro Baseball career by going 11-14 with a 3.80 ERA in 1987. Then Matt was 12-12 with a 2.76 ERA in his best season in 1988. He was 6th in the Central League in ERA, he led foreign pitchers in the CL despite having a league-high 8 hit batsmen. In 1989, Matt allowed the most earned runs in the circuit (83) en route to a 5-9 record with a 3.72 ERA that season. Continuing to decline, Keough was 7-9 with a 5.00 ERA in his 4th and last season with Hanshin in 1990. Overall, he went 45-44 with a 3.73 ERA, while pitching in Japan Central League.

Matt attempted to return to pitch again in the MLB with the 1991 Angels in their MLB Spring Training Camp, but he did not make the team. In 1992, Keough made a bid to make the Angels again, but while he was sitting in the Angels dugout during a Cactus League spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium, outside of Phoenix, AZ; he was hit in the right temple by a foul ball off the bat of the Giants' batter John Patterson. The blow caused a life-threatening blood clot, which required surgery and ended his MLB Pitching career. Matt Keough finished his MLB Pitching career with a 58-84 record with a 4.17 ERA in 215 MLB games. Matt never recorded a MLB Pitching save in MLB Pitching career of 9 seasons. Keough took a job as a Minor League Scout with the Angels in 1992, he was employed by the team through the 1999 AL season. He has also worked as a MLB Scout for the Tampa Devil Rays. Later, he worked as a Special Assistant to the General Manager Billy Beane for the Oakland A's.

In April of 2005, Keough was involved in an auto accident, while driving while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving, injuring a pedestrian and leaving the scene of an accident. Afterward, Matt checked into a Betty Ford Clinic and enrolled in an Outpatient Alcoholism Program. He served 3 months in jail for the DWI charges related to the auto accident.

Keough was separated for over 10 years from November 1980 Playboy Centerfold wife, Jeana Tomasina. His son, Shane Keough, a Shortstop was signed by the A's as a MLB Amateur Player Draft and follow pick in 2006, after being made their 36th pick in the 2005 MLB Amateur Player Draft. Matt Keough died on May 1, 2020 at the age of 64, mere weeks after his Daughter Kara had lost a child during childbirth.
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