Ron Darling

On this date in 1960, Major League Baseball pitcher and commentator Ronald Maurice Darling Jr. was born in Honolulu to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and a French-Canadian father, which led to him being fluent in Chinese, French and English. He grew up in Millbury, Mass., and was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1981 after his junior year at Yale University, where he majored in French and Southeast Asian history. New Yorker writer Roger Angell once called him “the best right-handed part-Chinese Yale history major among the Mets starters.”

He was traded to the New York Mets before playing for the Rangers and later pitched for the Montreal Expos and Oakland A’s. He amassed a 136–116 won-loss record during a 13-year career and was named a National League All-Star in 1985. In 1986 the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox for their first World Series title since 1969. (As of this writing in 2020, it’s the Mets’ last title.)

Since his playing career ended at age 35 in 1995, Darling has worked primarily as a sports broadcaster. He has written three books: The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound (2009), Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life (2016) and 108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game (2019).

He married Irish model Antoinette O’Reilly in 1986, with whom he had two sons, Tyler and Jordan. After divorcing, Darling married Joanna Last, a makeup artist for Fox Sports, in 2004. They had a son, Ronald Maurice Darling III, in 2016. In 2009 he founded the Ron Darling Foundation to fund diabetes research and support other charities, including Habitat for Humanity and Hurricane Sandy Relief. His son Jordan is a Type 1 diabetic. Darling was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2019 but after surgery announced he would return to the broadcast booth in 2020. 

Darling is “not a big fan of organized religion” but has said if Baseball Chapel Inc. (started by Yankees Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek to create chapels for players) helps others, he’s glad for them. (Season of Ghosts: The ’86 Mets and the Red Sox by Howard Burman, 2012) 

According to the website Inside Weddings in 2004, he and Joanna wanted a traditional wedding that transcended a specific religion or culture. The officiant conducted the ceremony in three languages and gave a blessing in Hawaiian to honor Darling’s mother. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation