Doug Linton

This article was written by Joel Rippel

Doug Linton’s career as a professional baseball player spanned 18 seasons. He spent time with nine organizations and played for 12 minor-league teams and five major-league teams. He also spent one season in Taiwan and one in Korea.

But the major-league portion of the right-handed pitcher’s nomadic career – which included parts of seven seasons – began and ended in the same place – Boston’s Fenway Park.

Douglas Warren Linton was born in Santa Ana, California, on February 9, 1965. Linton, his older brother, Robert,were raised by their single mother, Carol, in Orange, California, before moving to nearby Anaheim Hills when Doug was 8 or 9 years old. Carol worked as a receptionist at U.C. Irvine Medical Center.

Linton attended Canyon High School, where he participated in baseball, football, track, and basketball – with his 6-foot-6 brother as a teammate – as a sophomore.

As a junior and senior, Doug concentrated on pitching.

As a senior, Linton was 9-3 and was named to the All-Century League team. After the season, he was selected to play in the annual Orange County North/South baseball game.

After high school, Linton enrolled at U.C. Irvine, where he lettered for three seasons for the Anteaters. After going 5-5 as a freshman in 1984 and 5-7 as a sophomore in 1985, Linton was used mostly out of the bullpen in 1986. He was 4-7 with three saves in 22 appearances (which included five starts).

After his junior season, Linton was selected by the Blue Jays in the 43rd round of the June 1986 amateur draft.

Linton spent the summer of 1986 pitching for the Alaska Goldpanners, based in Fairbanks, in the Alaska Baseball league. He had a successful summer, helping the Goldpanners to a first-place finish in the league’s Pacific Division with a 26-16 record. After the season concluded on August 5, the Goldpanners and the Anchorage Pilots, who finished first in the Continental Division, competed in the National Baseball Congress Tournament in Wichita, Kansas.

The Goldpanners, who had an 11-game winning streak going into the tournament, won their first five games – Linton was the winning pitcher in two of the games – in the 34-team tournament. The Goldpanners ended up in fourth place in the tournament.

“I went up to Alaska expecting to return to UCI for my fourth year,” said Linton. “At the beginning, Toronto wasn’t going to offer (me) anything. I was very successful in Alaska. I was co-MVP of the team (the Goldpanners) that had (future first-round draft pick and major-leaguer) Mike Harkey. Once Toronto saw how I was doing up there, they boosted the money after I got back home. They offered more money than a 43rd-round pick normally would get. It was enough to make me sign.”1

Linton credited his experience in Alaska with helping him refine his approach heading into his first season of professional baseball.

“Alaska turned me around as a pitcher,” said Linton. “[Cal State Fullerton assistant coach] Larry Corrigan gave me some ideas that helped me realize what I need to do to be successful. The ideas helped me win and I carried it over into pro ball in 1987.”2

Linton’s rookie season in professional baseball was a revelation. He went 14-2 with a 1.55 ERA for the Blue Jays’ Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) farm team in the Class-A South Atlantic League. He struck out 155 in 122 innings.

On July 24 he was promoted to Knoxville of the Double-A Southern League. In his debut, on July 28, he allowed three runs and five hits in three innings against Chattanooga. Knoxville rallied for a 9-4 victory.

“Doug Linton might be the South Atlantic League’s best pitcher, but due partly to a tender arm, the young right-hander fell short of expectations in his Class AA debut,” a Knoxville sportswriter commented.3

The initial plan to deal with Linton’s sore arm was rest. “He won’t throw for five days and then begin rehabilitation,” Knoxville manager Glenn Ezell said.4

When Linton’s soreness persisted, an examination revealed a torn rotator cuff. He had surgery on August 29; Linton was sidelined until late in the 1988 season.

“At times, I was just learning to throw again, and it was depressing,” Linton said. “I was thinking maybe I should go back and get that college education. But then things slowly started to come back.”5

Late in 1988, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder made 12 relief appearances for Dunedin of the Class-A Florida State League, going 2-1 with two saves and a 1.63 ERA. He struck out 28 in 27⅔ innings.

He returned to Dunedin to start the 1989 season, going 1-2 with two saves and a 2.96 ERA before being promoted to Knoxville. With Knoxville, he was 5-4 with a 2.60 ERA. In 13 starts and 90 innings with Knoxville, he threw two shutouts and struck out 93.

“It was just nice to be back throwing,” said Linton.6

After the 1989 season, Linton pitched for the Venezuelan team Leones del Caracas, which advanced to the Caribbean World Series. Linton threw a shutout in the World Series.

Linton was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse for the 1990 season. He went 10-10 with a 3.40 ERA in 26 starts. Among his eight complete games were three shutouts. He returned to Syracuse in 1991, going 10-12 with a 5.01 ERA.

Linton opened the 1992 season in Syracuse. Early in the season, he was a bright spot for the Chiefs. They won just three of their first 14 games, but Linton was the winning pitcher in two of them. In early May, Linton was 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 31 innings.

In early August, Linton was recalled by the Blue Jays and he made his major-league debut on August 3, 1992. He allowed one earned run in 3⅔ innings of relief in the Blue Jays’ 7-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Two days later, he pitched 3⅓ innings of hitless relief as the Blue Jays rallied for a 5-4 victory over the host Red Sox.

On August 8 in Detroit, Linton relieved Dave Stieb in the fourth inning with the Tigers leading 5-2. After the Blue Jays scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie the score, Tigers catcher Mickey Tettleton hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to break the tie. It was the only run Linton allowed in three innings. The Tigers went on to defeat the Blue Jays 8-6, giving Linton his first major-league loss.

Five days later in Toronto, he made his first career start, in the finale of a four-game series with the second-place Baltimore Orioles. It was a crucial game for the Blue Jays.

Since being a half-game behind in the AL East standings on May 24, the Blue Jays had spent 80 consecutive days either tied for first or in sole possession of first place in the AL East. But the Blue Jays, who had a 4½-game lead on August 2, had lost five of six games going into Linton’s start. After the Blue Jays won the series opener from the Orioles, Baltimore had won the next two games to pull within one game of the Blue Jays in the standings.

The Orioles scored a run in the second inning when Glenn Davis led off with a solo home run. Linton walked the next hitter, Randy Milligan, and retired 15 consecutive hitters before Cal Ripken Jr. led off the seventh with a double. After Davis grounded out to first with Ripken advancing to third, Milligan hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Ripken and tie the game, 2-2.

After the Blue Jays took the lead in the eighth inning, Tom Henke retired the Orioles in order in the ninth to save Linton’s first major-league victory.

Linton said his teammates deserved the credit: “It’s a great feeling. But if we don’t score two runs in the eighth, I wouldn’t be talking about my first win.”7

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston emphasized the importance of Linton’s outing and the Blue Jays’ victory.

“We were just hoping he’d get us through the fifth or sixth and get by,” said Gaston. “He did a lot more than we expected. And he did it at the right time. The difference is that instead of being tied (for the AL East lead), we’re two games up. That tells it all. That’s the best start we’ve had in a long, long time.”8

Gaston added, “Earlier in the year, [Syracuse pitching coach] John Poloni told me Linton would be starting for us soon, but with all the stars we had, I never thought much about it. It turns out he was right.”9

Linton lost his next starts – in Milwaukee on August 19 and to the White Sox in Chicago on August 24. On August 28, he allowed six runs in a third of an inning in the Blue Jays’ 22-2 loss to Milwaukee. The next night Linton pitched a scoreless inning in their 7-2 loss to the Brewers.

After that game, Linton was sent back to Syracuse for the final week of the International League season. On September 1 he allowed three earned runs in Syracuse’s 4-0 loss at Rochester. On September 7, he allowed seven earned runs in five innings in Syracuse’s 8-7 season-ending victory over Rochester. He was recalled by the Blue Jays the next day after Syracuse’s season ended, but he did not appear in any games for the final three weeks of the regular season.

For the season, Linton was 1-3 with an 8.63 ERA in eight appearances for the Blue Jays. He was 12-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 25 starts for Syracuse, which was 60-83. Only two pitchers in the International League had more victories – Richmond’s David Nied (14) and Pawtucket’s Larry Shikles (13). Linton was fifth in the league in strikeouts (126). Nied led the league with 159 strikeouts.

In 1993 Linton was with the Blue Jays in spring training but was optioned to Syracuse on March 21. With several middle relievers among the 15 pitchers still in camp, he was expected to get more opportunities to pitch with Syracuse.

Linton was recalled by Toronto on May 7. After allowing seven earned runs in 7⅔ innings in two starts, he was returned to Syracuse on May 13. He rejoined Toronto and made two relief appearances before being placed on waivers. Linton, who was 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in those four appearances, was claimed by the California Angels on June 17.

He made his first appearance with the Angels at home on June 20. In back-to-back relief outings on July 7 (against Boston) and July 11 (against the Yankees), he was the winning pitcher in each game.

In 19 appearances with the Angels – all in relief – Linton was 2-0 with a 7.71 ERA before being released by the Angels on September 14.

In December Linton signed with the New York Mets. He made the Mets’ Opening Day roster in 1994. After beginning the season with two scoreless relief outings, he picked up his first NL victory by getting two outs in the Mets’ 10-9 victory over the visiting Chicago Cubs on April 14.

Linton didn’t allow a run in his first six NL outings. He allowed just five earned runs in his first 16 innings (15 appearances) and was 4-0. After allowing four earned runs in 1⅔ innings in an 8-3 loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles on July 9, Linton was sent to Norfolk.

In three starts with Norfolk, he was 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA to earn a return to the Mets. He finished the season with the Mets, for whom he was 6-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 32 appearances (three starts).

Linton became a free agent after the season and signed with the Kansas City Royals. He split the 1995 season between the Royals and their Triple-A Omaha farm team.

In early May, Linton had memorable outings in back-to-back starts for the Royals. On May 5 in Chicago, he started and allowed one run and four hits in eight innings in the Royals’ 3-1 victory in 12 innings over the White Sox.

Four days later in Cleveland, Linton started against Cleveland on three days’ rest. The Indians, who were on their way to a 100-victory season (in 144 games), tied a major-league record by scoring eight runs before they made an out – something previously accomplished by the New York Yankees in 1960 and the Cleveland Indians in 1954.

The Indians hit three home runs in the inning — which tied the Royals’ record for the most allowed in one inning.

The Indians added two runs in the second to extend their lead to 10-0. Linton regrouped to retire 11 of the last 12 batters he faced in the five-inning outing.

Royals manager Bob Boone said he left Linton in the game to “to chew up some innings. The consolation was that he let me keep my bullpen intact.”10

For the season, in seven appearances with the Royals, Linton was 0-1 with a 7.25 ERA. With Omaha, he was 7-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 18 starts.

Linton began the 1996 with Omaha. He went 1-1 in four starts with Omaha before being recalled by the Royals on April 30.

Linton tied a Royals record by striking out six consecutive hitters in a 7-5 victory over the White Sox on July 20 in Chicago. He struck out eight in five innings to earn the victory and improve to 4-5 for the season.

On August 31 he allowed one run and three hits in 6⅓ innings in the Royals’ 3-1 victory at Detroit. He struck out a career-high nine as he tied his career high with his sixth victory.

After allowing two runs in six innings while pitching the Royals to a 4-2 victory – his career-high seventh victory – over the Seattle Mariners on September 11 in Kansas City, Linton was sidelined by soreness in his elbow and did not pitch the rest of the season. With the Royals, he was 7-9 with a 5.02 ERA in 21 appearances (18 starts).

After the season, Linton was eligible for arbitration. “Going into arbitration,” he said, “my agent told me that I was second –  only to Greg Maddux – in strikeout-to-walk ratio in the big leagues in 1996.”11

Linton, who had struck out 87 and walked 26 in 104 innings, and the Royals avoided arbitration when he agreed to a one-year deal for $500,000. He had asked for $620,000 and the Royals had offered $400,000.

At the beginning of the Royals’ training camp of 1997, the soreness persisted in Linton’s elbow. An MRI showed inflammation. Six to eight weeks of rest was initially recommended but then surgery was recommended. In early March, Linton had Tommy John surgery and he missed the 1997 season.

Linton signed with the New York Yankees on January 26, 1998, but was released during spring training.

In May of 1998, he joined the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A Salt Lake farm team. He was 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in his first six starts for Salt Lake before throwing seven shutout innings in a 10-1 victory over Colorado Springs on July 27. For the season, he was 4-4 with a 5.99 ERA in 18 appearances (14 starts).

After the season, Linton was granted free agency and in December he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. He split the 1999 season between the Orioles (1-4 in 14 appearances) and Triple-A Rochester (7-5 in 18 starts). He was released by the Orioles and signed with the Colorado Rockies organization for the 2000 season. Linton spent the entire 2000 season with Triple-A Colorado Springs, going 10-13 in 28 starts. Among his six complete games were three shutouts.

In January of 2001, Linton signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. In late March he was reassigned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp before being released on April 1. He signed with the New York Mets in early May and joined Norfolk. He went 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 12 starts before the Mets sold his contract to the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball League on July 25. In 12 starts in Korea, Linton was 4-4 with a 3.17 ERA.

Linton spent the 2002 season in the Atlanta Braves organization. He was 9-11 with a 2.53 ERA and a career-high (and International League-leading) 160 strikeouts in 174 innings for Triple-A Richmond.

After the season, Linton became a free agent and signed a minor-league contract with the Blue Jays. He was invited to the Blue Jays spring training camp “to build organizational depth.”12

Linton made the Blue Jays’ 2003 Opening Day roster. In his first major-league appearance since 1999, he pitched two shutout innings in the Blue Jays’ 8-4 loss to the visiting New York Yankees on Opening Day.

His next three appearances were against the Minnesota Twins. In each of the first two, he threw a shutout inning. In the third, on April 13, he allowed two runs in 1⅔ innings in the Twins’ 9-3 victory in Toronto. Linton followed with two scoreless outings against the Yankees in New York (one inning on April 14 and 1⅓ innings on April 17). On April 18 in Boston, pitching for the fifth time in seven days, he allowed one run – a solo home run by Doug Mirabelli – in the Blue Jays’ 7-3 loss.

Linton was optioned to Syracuse the next day. With Syracuse, he was 2-10 with a 5.28 ERA in 32 appearances.

Linton spent the 2004 season with the Royals organization, starting the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he was 3-9 in 27 appearances. He also went 1-0 in one start for Double-A Wichita.

Linton’s final season as a player was in 2005 – at the age of 40 – in Taiwan. He went 6-11 with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts for Uni-President of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

In seven major-league seasons, Linton had a 17-20 record and a 5.78 ERA in 112 appearances.

“The (1992) Blue Jays were a very talented club,” said Linton. “The team came to the field every day knowing it was going to win. It was a great, winning atmosphere. The players hung around the clubhouse talking about the game.”13

In 17 minor-league seasons, including parts of 14 seasons at the Triple-A level, Linton had a 109-111 record and 4.07 ERA in 339 appearances. In his two “foreign” seasons, he was 10-15 with a 3.46 ERA.

In 2006 Linton began his coaching career with the Colorado Rockies as a pitching coach for Tri-City in the short-season rookie Northwest League. After one season at Modesto and two at Colorado Springs, he became a roving pitching coordinator in 2012. In 2013 he became the Rockies pitching coordinator. The 2021 season was Linton’s 16th with the Rockies organization.

“The game has changed,” said Linton. “Especially on the analytical side. I like numbers, but the bottom line is you still have to pitch in a game. Analytics verify what your eyes are telling you.”14

Linton and his wife, Lisa, reside in Surprise, Arizona. They have three children – Ryan, Austin, and Carter. Carter signed a minor-league contract with the Atlanta Braves in 2020. He pitched for Augusta of the Low-A East South Division in 2021.


In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted,, and and conducted phone interviews with Doug Linton in December of 2021 and March of 2022.


1 Joel Rippel, “Blue Jays’ Linton Discovers That Time Indeed Helps Heal,” Orange County Register (Anaheim, California), July 24, 1989: D6.

2 Rippel.

3 Nick Gates, “Knoxville Rallies Past Lookouts,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 29, 1987: C1.

4 Gates, “Knoxville Is Hurting for Wins,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 3, 1987: C1.

5 Steve Kresal, “Minor League Notebook,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1990: C17.

6 Kresal.

7 Associated Press, “Blue Jays Rookie Brings Down Orioles, 4-2,” Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1992: C6.

8 Bill Lankhof, “Linton Saves the Day,” National Post (Toronto), August 14, 1992: 35.

9 Lankhof.

10 LaVelle E. Neal III, “Royals Worst in First,” Kansas City Star, May 10, 1995: D1.

11 Doug Linton, interview with author.

12 Shi Davidi, “All Eyes on the Jays’ Pitchers on the Eve of Spring Training,” National Post, February 14, 2003: S3.

13 Doug Linton, interview with author.

14 Doug Linton, interview with author.

Full Name

Douglas Warren Linton


February 9, 1965 at Santa Ana, CA (USA)

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