It’s still hard to swallow that 75 percent of the four twenty-game winners from 1971 are now deceased. That includes the crafty Cuban Mike Cuellar and the Snake, Pat Dobson. And on Dec. 1, 2002, cancer claimed the life of Billings, Montana’s David Arthur McNally.
In happier news, McNally had a heck of a 1970 season. He led the American League in wins (24). For the second consecutive season, he pitched to an ERA of 3.22. He also led the league in doubles allowed (48).
Harking back to that wonderful 1970 World Series DVD, McNally came to the plate in the third game of the World Series with the Reds.
Curt Gowdy, of course mentions that McNally clocked a two-run homer off Jerry Koosman in the lost Series of 1969. And then McNally smacks another homer. This time with the sacks loaded. When McNally crosses the plate, Gowdy asks “Is Dave McNally happy?”
Darn right he was happy. He’s in the record book as the first and only pitcher to hit a grand slam in a World Series game.
McNally was just good. He knew how to pitch. He had that nice easy motion from the left side and delivered a better than average fastball.
Do we recall that McNally started the first game in Orioles World Series history. And he was all of 23-years-old. He was in the dugout when the Orioles offense ignited in the very first inning in Los Angeles. It was October 5, 1966.
Luis Aparicio flied out against LA right-hander Don Drysdale. Russ Snyder coaxed a walk. And then the fireworks began. Frank Robinson put on in the bullpen. Brooks Robinson crushed another one to left field. The fans hadn’t even ordered their first beer and it was 3-0 Baltimore.
However, the first game of the World Series did not make McNally a winning pitcher. His no-hitter vanished on a Jim Lefebvre homer leading off the second. The third inning was his downfall. McNally’s control deserted him. Three consecutive walks loaded the sacks. Instead the first game pitching hero would be Moe Drabowsky. This reliever would strike out the side two times in a row.
McNally’s claim to fame in that series was game four. He pitched a complete game in the finale. That was a four-hit shutout. McNally allowed only two base runners once and that was in the ninth inning. Frank Robinson’s solo shot was the lone run of that game.
McNally didn’t really become the great pitcher until the 1968 season. And it was lost in a season in which Denny McLain won 31 games. All McNally did was win 22 games and pitched to a career-best 1.95 ERA. Of course there was no WHIP category in those days but he led the league (0.842) despite having to compete with a 31-game winner.
The credit for the McLucky tag seems to be the former general manager Harry Dalton. It seemed McNally would get bailed out late in games and he just kept on winning. His winning streak reached 17 between the 1968 and 1969 season.
Long-time Orioles fans might recall the winning streak vanished when Twins left-handed hitter Rich Reese blasted a grand-slam homer of McNally.
McNally wasn’t much of a hitter but if an opposing pitcher managed to hit his bat, the ball went a long way. He had nine lifetime homers, not including his World Series heroics.
Of course there is that trade with Montreal in December of 1974. That’s when McNally, Rich Coggins and Bill Kirkpatrick headed to Canada for Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez. It was a blind steal and showed how great the Orioles brass was in those days. McNally was hurt and won only three more games before he retired. Coggins and Kirkpatrick did nothing. Singleton would become a star. Torrez would win 20 games in an Orioles uniform.