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John Derran Lackey (born October 23, 1978, in Abilene, Texas) is a major league baseball starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He played for the Los Angeles Angels from 2002 to 2009. Fox Sports color commentator Rex Hudler coined the nickname Big John for the 6'6" Angels hurler.
Lackey attended Abilene High School (the Eagles) in Abilene, Texas, and was a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. In baseball, he was a two-time first team All-District honoree and as a senior, he was also an All-State selection.
He played one season of baseball at University of Texas at Arlington, playing first base and sometimes moonlighting as a reliever. In 1999, played on the Junior College World Series champion Grayson County College team in Denison, Texas, where he posted a 10-3 record with a 4.23 ERA.
In 1999, he was drafted in the second round (68th overall) by the Anaheim Angels. He began his professional career with the rookie-level Boise Hawks, posting a 6-2 record and a 4.98 ERA. In 2000, Lackey split his time between the single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, high-A Lake Elsinore Storm, and triple-A Erie SeaWolves. Because of his quick ascent up the minor league ladder, he was named the Angels' Minor League Pitcher of the Year, posting a combined 15-9 record with a 3.15 ERA. He began 2000 with double-A Arkansas before being promoted in July of that year to the triple-A Salt Lake Bees, where he struggled a bit, posting a 3-4 record and a 6.71 ERA. He recovered in the 2002 season, being named Best Pitching Prospect of the Pacific Coast League and accumulating an 8-2 record with a 2.57 ERA.
He was called up to the bigs on June 24, dropping his first major league start against the Texas Rangers. He was optioned back to Salt Lake, until he was recalled to replace pitcher Al Levine on June 28. On June 30, he replaced Scott Schoeneweis on the Angels' rotation and gained his first victory against the cross-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Lackey was the winning pitcher for the American League Wild Card-clinching victory against Texas on September 26.
With the AL Wild Card in hand, the Angels began their march through the 2002 postseason, facing the feared New York Yankees in the ALDS. Lackey made his relief and postseason debut in Game 3, allowing two earned runs in the midst of an Angels rally to win 9-6. He gained his first post-season victory against the Minnesota Twins in Game 4 of the ALCS, pitching seven innings while allowing only three hits and striking out seven.
With their victory in five games over the Twins, the Angels earned their first American League pennant and made their first trip to the World Series. After starter Kevin Appier was pulled after two-plus innings in Game 2, Lackey pitched two innings giving up two earned runs on two hits, receiving a no-decision in the eventual 11-10 Angel victory over the San Francisco Giants. He started Game 4 of the Series, pitching four scoreless innings but gaining a no-decision after allowing three hits and three earned runs in the eventual Angels loss.
However, it was in Game 7 of the World Series on October 27, 2002 that Lackey became a hero to Angels fans. Lackey allowed only one earned run on four hits while striking out four in five innings, allowing the Angels to hold an early 4-1 lead to hand over to their dominant bullpen trio of Brendan Donnelly, Francisco Rodriguez, and Troy Percival to seal their World Series title. Lackey became only the second rookie in World Series history to start and win Game 7, the other being Babe Adams of the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Lackey struggled his sophomore year, compiling a 10-16 record with a 4.63 ERA while leading the team in hits allowed, earned runs allowed, and wild pitches. He improved in 2004, with a record of 14-13 and a 4.67 ERA, helping the Angels win their first division title since 1986. The 2005 campaign saw Lackey mature further, working into the sixth inning in thirty of his thirty six starts, earning a 14-5 record with a 3.44 ERA. He ranked second in strikeouts per nine innings (with 8.6 K/9 IP) and third in strikeouts (199). However, he retained a bit of his wild nature with the third most wild pitches in the league.
After the placement of 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon on the disabled list in 2006 Lackey emerged as the team's ace, and skipper Mike Scioscia named him the number one starter after the All-Star break. On July 7, 2006, Lackey retired 27 batters in a row after giving up a leadoff double in the first inning to Mark Kotsay of the Oakland Athletics. He threw a career high 30 2/3 scoreless innings from July 2, 2006 through July 19, 2006, when he gave up a fifth-inning home run to Ben Broussard of the Cleveland Indians. He was later named American League Pitcher of the Month for July 2006.
On June 13, 2007, Lackey became the first pitcher to win 10 games for the 2007 season. On July 1, Lackey was named as one of three Angels to represent the club and the American League at the 2007 All-Star Game.
- 2003: $315,000
- 2004: $375,000
- 2005: $440,000
- 2006: $3,010,000
- 2007: $5,500,000
- 2008: $7,000,000
- 2009: $10,000,000
Awards & Accomplishments
- 1-time MLB All-Star (2007)
- 1-time World Series Champion (2002)
- Selected by Anaheim Angels in the 2nd round of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1999 - signed June 9, 1999).
- Granted Free Agency (date needed).
- Signed as a Free Agent with Boston Red Sox (December 16, 2009).
- Singled in the 2002 World Series against the Giants, yet has no hits in a regular season contest.
- He is featured in a Gatorade ad along with teammate Mike Napoli, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and actor Harvey Keitel.