Reliable reliever Lindy McDaniel dies at 84

November 17th, 2020

Lindy McDaniel, who pitched as a reliever for 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, mostly with the Cardinals and Yankees, died Saturday at age 84.

McDaniel's death was a result of COVID-19, according to reports from The Associated Press and The New York Times.

McDaniel pitched in 987 games for the Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Yankees and Royals from 1955-75, with his longest stints coming with St. Louis (eight seasons) and New York (six seasons). He had a 141-119 career record, 3.45 ERA, 174 saves and 1,361 strikeouts in 2,139 1/3 innings.

At the time he retired following the 1975 season, only Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm had pitched in more big league games than McDaniel.

Though he never made it to the postseason, McDaniel was one of the most reliable relievers in the big leagues during his time. The right-hander led the Major Leagues in saves in back-to-back seasons with the Cardinals in 1959 and '60, and led the National League a third time with the Cubs in '63.

McDaniel's best seasons were 1960 and '70. In 1960, he had a 2.09 ERA, 27 saves and a career-high 105 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings for the Cardinals, making the All-Star team and finishing tied for third in MLB Cy Young Award voting and fifth in National League MVP voting. In 1970, he had a 2.01 ERA, a career-high 29 saves and 81 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings for the Yankees, while again receiving MVP votes.

McDaniel remains the last Yankees pitcher to hit a home run, having done so against the Tigers' Mickey Lolich on Sept. 28, 1972, the year before the American League adopted the designated hitter. He was the second-to-last AL pitcher to homer before the DH, as Roric Harrison homered for the Orioles on Oct. 3 of that year.

Born in Hollis, Okla., on Dec. 13, 1935, McDaniel signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1955 and made his Major League debut on Sept. 2 that same year, at age 19. He was traded four times in his career, and continued to pitch until he was 39. Two of those trades were significant: one in 1965 that sent him from the Cubs to the Giants for pitcher Bill Hands and catcher Randy Hundley, who became key players in the Cubs' run for a division title in '69, and the other in '73 when he went from the Yankees to the Royals for Lou Piniella, an important part of New York's championships in '77 and '78.