Yankee Christmas Present: Lindy McDaniel Baseball Card

Nothing like receiving an unexpected Christmas gift in the mail from a longtime friend. A signed 1970 Topps Lindy McDaniel baseball card. From John Letizia, who really got me into baseball back in 1970 when we were in the 3rd grade. At the time if you’d asked me my favorite team, I’d say the Yankees but Letizia was a huge Yankee fan and he showed me baseball in an enthusiastic light I’d not seen before. ‘Turned me on’ to the game. Huge Bobby Murcer fan.

Lindy_McDaniel_frontHe wrote this in a card that came with the present: “When I was 10-11, I was too afraid to just write to Bobby Murcer to ask for a picture and autograph so I tested it out by writing to this Yankee and Danny Cater, but I never got around to Bobby.”

On the back of Lindy’s 1970 baseball card it says McDaniel was the “holder of NL mark with 225 errorless games. Lindy was NL Fireman of the Year twice. Recorded four saves for Yankees in 1969.”

In the 1st Wave of Ace Relievers?
The errorless games mark was news to me but of course he was a reliever so not so impressive, as he’d only be playing an inning or so every game.

But what was impressive from the back of his baseball card was that he was exclusively a reliever so early on — starting in 1959 and through the sixties. He had to be part of the first wave of ace relievers. Having read about the Yankees championship runs of the ’50’s I knew the Yankees were one of the first and only teams to have a closer — Joe Page. Other teams couldn’t afford to have a good pitcher waiting to close out games, and used relievers as mop-up men. A quick check of Yankee pitching history shows they had an ace reliever as far back as the late 30’s and 40’s — Johnny Murphy. Other teams, like Detroit, Cleveland, or Chicago, didn’t.

Lindy turned from starter to reliever round about 1959 when he went from 26 games in 1958 to 62 games in 1959 — and put up dominant numbers thru the 60’s.

Lindy_McDaniel_backLindy’s Back Story

His conversion from starter to reliever is a story only hinted at on the back of his baseball card — he had a horrible ERA in 1958 then spent time in Omaha before coming back in 1959 and posting sterling numbers as a reliever. Did he run into arm trouble? Did he go to minors and invent a new pitch or simply learn the pacing of pitching only 1 inning but every day?

For that we search the web. According to the Society for Baseball Research: McDaniel was a bonus baby who went straight to the big leagues, but when he pitched poorly in 1958 he was demoted to the minors. He tried to earn back his starting spot in 1959 but after several bad starts he was simply dumped into the ballpen; he developed a forkball and flourished. According to wikipedia, Lindy in 1960 won the first-ever Sporting News Reliever of the Year award, for the National League.

So anyway — what a great gift. Got me researching Lindy McDaniel and found out a little bit more about baseball along the way. Thanks John!

Year   Age  Tm  Lg   W   L W-L%  ERA   G GS  GF CG  SV     IP    H  BB   SO
1955    19 STL  NL   0        0 4.74   4  2   2  0   0   19.0   22   7    7
1956    20 STL  NL   7   6 .538 3.40  39  7  10  1   0  116.1  121  42   59
1957    21 STL  NL  15   9 .625 3.49  30 26   1 10   0  191.0  196  53   75
1958    22 STL  NL   5   7 .417 5.80  26 17   6  2   0  108.2  139  31   47
1959    23 STL  NL  14  12 .538 3.82  62  7  47  1  15  132.0  144  41   86
1960    24 STL  NL  12   4 .750 2.09  65  2  47  1  26  116.1   85  24  105
1961    25 STL  NL  10   6 .625 4.87  55  0  39  0   9   94.1  117  31   65
1962    26 STL  NL   3  10 .231 4.12  55  2  36  0  14  107.0   96  29   79
1963    27 CHC  NL  13   7 .650 2.86  57  0  48  0  22   88.0   82  27   75
1964    28 CHC  NL   1   7 .125 3.88  63  0  40  0  15   95.0  104  23   71
1965    29 CHC  NL   5   6 .455 2.59  71  0  26  0   2  128.2  115  47   92
1966    30 SFG  NL  10   5 .667 2.66  64  0  32  0   6  121.2  103  35   93
1967    31 SFG  NL   2   6 .250 3.72  41  3   9  0   3   72.2   69  24   48
1968    32 TOT MLB   4   1 .800 3.31  36  0  27  0  10   70.2   60  17   52
1968    32 SFG  NL   0        0 7.45  12  0   8  0   0   19.1   30   5    9
1968    32 NYY  AL   4   1 .800 1.75  24  0  19  0  10   51.1   30  12   43
1969    33 NYY  AL   5   6 .455 3.55  51  0  31  0   5   83.2   84  23   60
1970    34 NYY  AL   9   5 .643 2.01  62  0  51  0  29  111.2   88  23   81
1971    35 NYY  AL   5  10 .333 5.04  44  0  28  0   4   69.2   82  24   39
1972    36 NYY  AL   3   1 .750 2.25  37  0  25  0   0   68.0   54  25   47
1973    37 NYY  AL  12   6 .667 2.86  47  3  32  1  10  160.1  148  49   93
1974    38 KCR  AL   1   4 .200 3.46  38  5  19  2   1  106.2  109  24   47
1975    39 KCR  AL   5   1 .833 4.15  40  0  21  0   1   78.0   81  24   40
21 Yrs             141 119 .542 3.45 987 74 577 18 172 2139.1 2099 623 1361
162 Game Avg.        9   8 .542 3.45  63  5  37  1  11    137  135  40   87
                     W   L W-L%  ERA   G GS  GF CG  SV     IP    H  BB   SO

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/1/2015.

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