After battling shoulder injuries, including a torn rotator cuff in 1995, Key made the announcement in 1999.
During his 15-year career, the lefty won two World Series titles and was a five-time American League All-Star. Key spent his entire career in the American League East. The southpaw pitched with the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles.
From 1993-96, Key pitched in the Bronx and helped restore the Yankees to glory after helping lead the Blue Jays to a title in 1992. Key was essentially the top ace, sure thing with a winning pedigree in 1993, striking out a career-high 173 batters.
In the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, Key won 17 games, started the All-Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and finished second to David Cone in Cy Young voting.
Key was such a sure bet that only Whitey Ford bested his .857 win percentage through his first 20 starts with the Yankees.
Following a lost 1995 season, Key returned for an up and down 1996 campaign but came through in the Game 6 clincher of the World Series.
While David Wells would fill his spot in the rotation the following season, I was initially bummed to see Key leave for Baltimore. As it turned out though, the old Branch Rickey saying rang true. Key was solid in 1997 but faded in 1998.
Yet, I’ll always remember him as one of those players who changed the culture and gave the Yankees credibility in 1993 and who helped them win a title in 1996.