The Yankees’ all-time save leader, Righetti set the major league single-season mark of 46 in 1986. He began his career as a starter and threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on a hot day at Yankee Stadium on the Fourth of July, 1983. Acquired from the Rangers as part of the Sparky Lyle trade after the 1978 season, Righetti appeared in three games in 1979. His next trip to the majors, 1981, resulted in the AL Rookie of the Year award, based on his 8-4 record and 2.06 ERA. Righetti was effective during the postseason, winning two games over Milwaukee in divisional play and once over Oakland in the LCS. He went 11-10 in 1982 and 14-8 in 1983, including the no-hitter, the Yankees’ first since Don Larsen‘s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Moved to the bullpen to replace Goose Gossage as the Yankees’ closer, Righetti saved 31 games in 1984 and 29 in 1985 with 12 wins. Then came record-setting 1986, when he converted on 29 of his final 30 save opportunities, including both ends of a season-ending doubleheader against the Red Sox, to break the record of 45 held by Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter. Righetti finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award that season. His save totals dropped to 31 in 1987 and 25 in 1988 and 1989, prompting increased speculation that he might be returning to the starting rotation. On the Yankee all-time lists, he ranks 2nd in games and 12th in strikeouts.