|Born: July 8, 1969|
|September 5, 1992, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1999, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Earned run average||4.78|
Robert Joseph Ayala (born July 8, 1969) is an American former professional baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos. He showed promise as a bullpen pitcher for the Mariners, but then struggled and was eventually released.
Ayala went to high school at Rio Mesa in Oxnard, California. He was brought up with the Reds as a starter before moving to the bullpen in his second season. The Reds traded Ayala with catcher Dan Wilson to the Mariners for Bret Boone and Erik Hanson in November 1993.
Ayala had some success in Seattle, finishing the strike-shortened 1994 season with a 2.86 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 57 innings while saving 18 games. During the "magical" Mariners 1995 season, the team held a promotional "Bobby Ayala Goatee Night," where fans wearing a goatee could get free tickets.
Ayala struggled mightily over the next few seasons, often blowing key saves and drawing criticism from Mariners fans and the Seattle press. "On April 24, 1996, he punched out the window of his hotel room at the Westin in Chicago after a reported night of drinking." Bobby and the Mariners arrived late in Chicago, at 3:00 am. The air conditioning unit was not functioning and the room was rather warm. Bobby tried to open the window to let the cold April air into the room. During the process of trying to open the latches, Bobby palmed the jammed lower left latch to try to unjam it. Upon hitting the latch with his palm, his hand slipped off the latch and into the window. He called the team trainer to inform him his hand was severely cut and that he needed stitches. According to Bobby, his room "looked like a murder scene" due to the loss of blood.
Hotel security was called to his room at 6:00 AM and discovered the broken window. The injury required nine stitches and he spent the next few months on the disabled list, finishing the season with a 5.88 ERA. Fellow reliever Norm Charlton, asked about the incident, said "I don't know what happened and I don't want to know."
The Mariners traded him to the Montreal Expos for minor-leaguer Jimmy Turman on April 3, 1999, but Seattle paid all of Ayala's $1.8 million salary that year. Montreal released him a few months later and he finished the '99 season pitching 16 innings for the Chicago Cubs.
He started the regular 2000 season pitching for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, but after starting 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA, was released on May 8.
On May 18, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Dukes. Two months and nine saves later, the Dukes released him. Even years after his career was over, Ayala's name is still brought up among Seattle baseball fans to make unfavorable comparisons to struggling pitchers.
- Bobby Ayala, August 21, 2016
- Street, Jim (1996-04-25). "Ayala injures hand, out a month". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. C1. Retrieved 2010-01-05.[permanent dead link]
- Seely, Mike (2008-09-26). "2009 Mariner Prescription: Trade Ichiro, Beltre, and Blow Shit Up". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-09-30., "Last night, the Mariners lost 6-4 to the Angels, in particularly heartbreaking fashion. J.J. Putz gave up a ninth inning moonshot to Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie. Let's start there: Putz, whose season has been reminiscent of vintage Bobby Ayala, should either be relieved of his duties as closer now, or should be given a very short leash to start 2009."
- Schoenfield, David (2009-12-28). "Why Edgar belongs in Cooperstown". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-01-05., "Edgar, it seems, was always there -- he was one of us, suffering through Bobby Ayala's blown saves but delivering the big hits...."
- Stone, Larry (2008-04-13). "Hey, Mariners fans, enough about Bobby Ayala and Alex Rodriguez, already". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-01-05., "He has become the personification of reliever non grata. Some people still swear that Ayala must have had incriminating pictures of Lou Piniella."
- Schoenfield, David (2009-09-03). "Baseball's all-time 'train-wreck' seasons". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-01-05., "[T]he 2003 rotation ... was not so fortunate in 2004. Although Jamie Moyer and Ryan Franklin were healthy, they combined to go 11-29. Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche both missed time, new closer Eddie Guardado gave up too many home runs and the rest of the 'pen reminded Mariners fans of the horror days of Bobby Ayala."
- Arnold, Kirby (2009-10-06). "Silva leaves a souvenir suitable for ..." Everett Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-05., "The crowd parted as though Bobby Ayala had just walked in (now, that was cruel) and the jock strap lay untouched on the concrete for a while."