Rick Ankiel says he drank vodka before his first two starts in 2001 to quell anxiety after throwing five wild pitches in one inning during the previous season’s playoffs.
Ankiel detailed his experience during an interview with 590 The Fan on Monday.
Ankiel was an emerging star with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000 before his ruinous postseason debut. He pitched the first game of an NL Division Series against Atlanta and became the first major leaguer with five wild pitches in one inning.
The next season, he was “scared to death” before his first start against Randy Johnson and Arizona and says vodka “tamed the monster.” He pitched five innings and got the win.
He also drank before his next start but says “anxiety took over the alcohol” that time, and the yips came back. He says he didn’t drink before games after that.
Ankiel has co-written a book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips and the Pitch that Changed My Life,” with Tim Brown, which is set for release April 18.