Deuces were wild for Erdos

I’m not sure if Todd Erdos’ favorite number is two, but it should be.

The Meadville, Pa. native went 2-0 as a middle relief pitcher, with a pair of saves during a major league baseball career that spanned five seasons and included three teams.

However, the two’s don’t stop there.

He also has two World Series rings as a member of the New York Yankees from 1998-2000!

“That was incredible,” Erdos said during last week’s Showalter Celebrity Golf Tournament at Belmont Hills Country Club outside of St. Clairsville. “It was an awesome experience to play with a group of guys that had a lot of talent, and to play for (manager) Joe Torre and (owner) George Steinbrenner.

“What a ride they had, and I was glad to be a part of it,” he added with a huge smile.

Baseball gurus might remember some of the players he was teammates with. Let’s see, there were guys like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter who are sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers. Then there was Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez. How about pitchers like Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, who was there in 1999 and 2000, David Wells and David Cone?

“I was right there with all of those guys. It’s was really fun.”

He earned the coveted rings, one of which he had on during his round of golf, as he got into the 1998 World Series against the team that had taken him out of Meadville Area High School – the San Diego Padres in seventh round of the 1992 draft.

“We swept them in four and I got in during game three,” he recalled. “I did okay. I got to pitch one inning, but I was as nervous as ever.”

He said spending time with Rivera in the bullpen was time he will never forget.

“I got as close to him as he lets you,” he admitted. “I was there with him for parts of three seasons. What a tremendous guy. Very class act. Works hard. It’s unbelievable the talent that he has.”

As for Jeter?

“A class act. No other way to describe him. You only hear good things about him. he treats you like a normal person on a regular basis. You can see why he is successful on and off the field, because he works hard and keeps his nose clean. He does everything the right way.”

And to think, all of this nearly never happened.

In 1994, Erdos was waiting in a San Diego hotel waiting for doctors to tell him why his body was shriveling.

After graduating high school weighing about 210 pounds, he was a hard thrower who had 72 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings in his first year of professional baseball.

Padres executives started him in the Class A Midwest League the next year. He struggled, averaging less than five innings an outing and losing nine of 10 decisions before being demoted to the Northwest League, which he had dominated the year before. His problems continued, and more alarming, his fastball seemed to lose its zip; by year’s end, he had lost 10 miles an hour from a pitch he usually threw in the low 90’s.

Erdos agreed with the Padres that he probably just wore down in his first full March-to-September season. He began lifting weights, to increase his strength and durability. He reported to spring training in 1994 and was somewhat taken aback when he weighed in at 190 pounds, or 20 pounds less than his high school weight. Probably from all the cardiovascular training in the off season, he figured. The Padres prescribed a weight-gaining diet of high-protein drinks and carbohydrates.

Erdos would consume a shake in the morning and feel bloated all day. The idea of eating more nauseated him. From one day to the next, he would glance in a mirror and see his muscle tone withering. “I looked like I was anorexic,” he said.

The Padres kept him in Arizona after spring training, so he could recover his strength. About two months after reporting to camp, Erdos weighed 170 pounds, he had no appetite and he was sure the Padres were going to release him.

San Diego was affiliated with an endocrinologist, Dr. Blaine Phillips of the Scripps Clinic, who began to run tests on Erdos. For two weeks, he stayed in a hotel in Mission Valley, worried, not sure whether his life was in jeopardy.

Phillips discovered what he first thought might be a tumor in Erdos’s brain. Examining it more closely, Phillips determined that Erdos’s pituitary gland had been crushed – Erdos has no idea why or how.

He was suffering from the rare empty sella syndrome.

Phillips told Erdos that the illness was causing his muscles to disintegrate. Although his ailment could be treated, Erdos had narrowly escaped death.

Phillips determined the levels of hormones Erdos requires and his health improved rapidly. He missed the entire 1994 season, but pitched in six games in 1995 and made his first big-league appearances two years later.

He played with San Diego in 1997 and 2000; the Yankees from 1998-2000; and the Boston Red Sox in 2001.

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