Most everything surrounding longtime Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti has changed dramatically since the lefty from San Jose was first drafted in 1977. “It was all orchards,” he says from his offseason home in Morgan Hill. “Now it’s just building after building—my God.” It’s true, both the physical landscape of his hometown and the metaphoric landscape of the game he’s been part of for decades has become nearly unrecognizable. (Righetti’s first big-league contract was worth $75,000; last year, the Giants signed two pitchers for a combined $220 million.) And, yet, the man the Giants call “Rags” remains firmly rooted in his place, year after year, teaching another generation of players the finer points of the game.
At 58, Righetti is in his 18th season as the Giants’ pitching coach, making him the longest-tenured pitching coach in the Majors. That’s no small feat, especially in a business in which most coaches are retained on year-to-year contracts. In that time, the Giants have sent a pitcher to the All-Star Game 18 times. Despite his own All-Star coaching CV, the soft-spoken Righetti has resisted the urge to seek a managing opportunity with another team. “I’ve seen the country,” he says. “At this point in my life, I'd just as soon do something around here.”
A major factor in that decision has been taking care of his triplets, now 25—two of whom were born with special needs. All three kids still live close to home, making it even harder to consider a job elsewhere. “You’re pushing it if you think you’re going to find something better than what we’ve got here,” he says. “I’m done running around. My ego’s fine.” This season offers a new and welcome change, as most of the Giants’ pitchers are established veterans, rather than newbies just up from the minors. Rather than focus on polishing their mechanics, Righetti says he and his staff can now spend more time game-planning for the opposing team. It’s just another change in the times for the man who’s seen them all.
Originally published in the May/June issue of Silicon Valley