John Lewis Pacella (born September 15, 1956) is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher. He became known for his unusual delivery that sometimes caused him to lose his cap after a pitch.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Pacella moved to Long Island in 1965. After going 21-4 in three seasons at Connetquot High School in Bohemia, he was drafted by his hometown New York Mets in the fourth round of the 1974 Major League Baseball Draft how tenderize beef. He was 32-35 with a 3.78 earned run average over four seasons in their farm system when he was called to the majors in 1977.
He made his major league debut out of the bullpen on his 21st birthday against the Philadelphia Phillies. After retiring the side in the seventh inning, Pacella walked the first batter he faced, Ted Sizemore, in the eighth. A botched pick off attempt allowed Sizemore to move to second. After he steals third, an error by Mets shortstop Doug Flynn put runners on the corners. Larry Bowa then drove Sizemore in with a single, while Ron Reed (who reached on Flynn’s error) advanced to third. Pacella then uncorks a wild pitch allowing Reed to score. Though this could hardly be called a successful debut, he escaped without allowing an earned run. He made two more appearances by the end of the season; each time pitching one perfect inning.
After spending all of 1978 in the minors, he returned to the Mets in 1979 as a September call-up. After pitching well in his first two appearances, he failed to make it out of the first inning in his third. For the season, he went 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA in four games.
His only full season in the majors was 1980. After starting the season in the bullpen, he was moved into the starting rotation in June. He earned his first major league win against Hall of Famer Steve Carlton and the Phillies on June 27, and improved to 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA on July 17 when he and Jeff Reardon combined to shut the Atlanta Braves out. Unfortunately, things went south from there as Pacella lost his next four decisions and finished the season at 3-4 with a 5 elastic running belt.14 ERA. After the season, he and infielder José Moreno were traded to the San Diego Padres for 1976 Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones. The following Spring, the Padres dealt Pacella and Jerry Mumphrey to the New York Yankees for Ruppert Jones, Joe Lefebvre, Tim Lollar and Chris Welsh.
After spending the 1981 season in triple A, Pacella won a job in the Yankees’ bullpen out of Spring training 1982. He made three appearances, getting hit hard in each, before being reassigned to triple A Columbus. Shortly after his arrival in Columbus, he was dealt to the Minnesota Twins with Pete Filson and Larry Milbourne for Roger Erickson and Butch Wynegar.
He reported directly to the Twins, and remained with the club for the rest of the season despite a high 7.32 ERA. On November 1, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Len Whitehouse. He failed to make the club out of Spring training, and was released just as the 1983 season was set to begin.
During the season, he signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He earned a September call-up to the big league club in September 1984, but was released at the end of the season. Shortly afterwards, he signed with the Detroit Tigers. He appeared briefly with the Tigers in the middle of the 1986 season. During the 1987 season, his contract was sold to the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japanese Central League.
Today, Pacella is a pitching instructor at Big League Baseball School in Ohio.