Lindy McDaniel, who played in the major leagues for 21 years and became one of baseball’s most trusted aides despite the mostly mediocre teams he worked for, died in Carrollton, Texas. He was 84 years old.
His wife, Nancy McDaniel, said he died in an emergency center either Saturday night or Sunday morning. She did not give a cause but said he was recently infected with Covid-19.
McDaniel was a lanky right-handed man who generally relied on breaking things. He has served five teams in both leagues – his longest stints were with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Yankees – and had success with the bullpen both as a tall and close man in an era prior to pitching specialization.
He was only 19 when he started his career with the Cardinals in 1955, and in 1957 he was in the starting rotation, winning 15 games as a sinker-baller with a three-quarter delivery of sidearms. In June of that year, 18-year-old brother Von made his team debut by knocking out the Brooklyn Dodgers with two hits on his first start and meeting the Pittsburgh Pirates a few weeks later.
St. Louis fans were dizzy at the prospect of the brothers at the top of the rotation, and comparisons were made with former Cardinal-Star siblings Paul and Dizzy Dean. Life magazine proclaimed them the “Amazing McDaniel Boys”. But it didn’t go that way. Fell from McDaniel’s star as fast as it had risen, and he was out of the majors for good in less than a year. (From died a heart attack in 1995 at 56.)
Lindy was also short-lived as a starter. The Cardinals manager Solly Hemus sent him to the Bullpen in May 1959, where he began to outgrow. The change in movement also changed his career.
McDaniel led the National League with 16 saves in 1959 and 27 in 1960 when he made the All-Star Team. The Sporting News named him the best helper in baseball. In his last 16 seasons he started only 15 times.
“When I threw that sidearm movement, I didn’t have enough speed to hit clubs when I was in a traffic jam,” McDaniel told Arthur Daley of the New York Times in 1961, adding, “As a sidearm, I had a sinker, Curve and slider. As an overhander, I have a fastball, curve, fork ball and alternating curve. “
Traded with the Chicago Cubs after the 1962 season, McDaniel had a great first year with them, winning 13 games and saving 22, another league high. Another good season was his first with the San Francisco Giants in 1966 when he competed with an E.R.A. of 2.66; at one point he threw 20 ⅓ consecutive scoreless innings.
McDaniel began a six-season stint with the Yankees in 1968, a meager stretch for the team as stars from the glory of the 1950s and early 60s like Mickey Mantle faded. In his senior season in the Bronx, aged 37, McDaniel went 12-6 and threw 160 ⅓ innings (including three starts in 47 appearances) with an E.R.A. of 2.86 for a team that ended up under .500. He ended his career with the Kansas City Royals for two seasons.
His career included some curiosities and extraordinary highlights. On May 10, 1959, he played in both games of a double header against the Cubs for the Cardinals. He was the loser in the first game and the winner in the second, while the Cubs Elmer Singleton won the first and lost the second, a symmetrical coincidence that had only happened twice before, according to the website baseball-reference.com.
In August 1968, he stood for a humble Yankees team and retired 32 consecutive batters in four games. In the same year he threw seven perfect innings – the 9th through the 15th – in a 19 inning game That ended in a tie against first-place (and eventual world champions) Detroit Tigers.
Overall, McDaniel was 141-119 with 174 saves in 987 appearances. His team came second only five times in 21 seasons. He never played in the postseason.
Lyndall Dale McDaniel was born on December 13, 1935 in Hollis, Oklahoma. His parents, Newell and Ada Mae (Burk) McDaniel, were deeply observant Christians, and his mother in particular, took a lot of persuasion before she allowed her son to play professional baseball.
McDaniel, a multi-athlete, attended the University of Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship before signing with the Cardinals for $ 50,000 (about $ 485,000 in today’s money) as a so-called bonus baby, the term given to amateur players who signed large contracts and were obliged to be put on a major league list instead of being sent to the secondary leagues. (The bonus baby rule was in effect from 1947 to 1965.)
During his baseball career, he studied for the ministry at Abilene Christian University in Texas and Florida Christian University, and was eventually ordained by the Church of Christ. He preached in several churches during and after his career and published a newsletter (later a blog) for many years. “Pitching for the Master” with reflections on religion and baseball. Most recently he was the oldest Lavon Church of Christ, a 50-member Texan community about 35 miles northeast of Dallas.
McDaniel had a previous marriage to Oral Audrey Kuhn in 1957 and had three children with her, Dale, Kathi and Jonathan. In addition to his wife, his survivors include many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In a post on his blog in 2014, McDaniel recalled the peak of his career. On June 6, 1963, when the Giants visited Chicago, he came in the 10th inning of a tie game with loaded and one removed from the bullpen of the Cubs and promptly picked Willie Mays from second base. He knocked out giant catcher Ed Bailey and then hit the ball over the fence of midfield as the leadoff hitter at the end of the 10th – one of the three home runs he’d ever hit – to win the game with the Cubs in first place with San Francisco.
“Not a bad afternoon work in the” friendly rooms of Wrigley Field, “as Ernie Banks would call it,” he wrote. “For a brief moment everything was joy in the land of Chicago.”
Alex Traub contributed to the coverage.