Back on November 14th, former Yankee Lindy McDaniel passed away at the age 84. He was a reliever with the team from 1968-73 and had some fairly successful seasons, even getting MVP votes in 1970.
While McDaniel was pretty good in that time, the Yankee teams he played for were not. The highest finish the Yankees had in that time was a second place finish in the AL East in 1970. You might think second place isn’t that bad, but they finished 15 games back of the first-place Orioles.
When you look at his Yankees’ career, you can’t point to big playoff moments, or him saving the day in a tight pennant race. He never got a chance to for reasons that weren’t really his fault. However, he did have some fairly remarkable moments in pinstripes. Here are some of the best.
A little more than a month after he was traded to the Yankees, McDaniel was called on to throw the ninth in a tie game against the Tigers. Against the eventual World Series champions, he threw a perfect outing. Not just for one or two innings — he went seven against a really good lineup with no blemishes.
However, thanks to a below-average Yankees’ lineup, he wouldn’t get credited with a win, and exited before things were over. The game went 19 innings before ending in a tie, as that was something that could happen then.
Five days later — also against the Tigers — McDaniel got a two-inning save in one of the weirdest games in Yankees’ history. That’s because the winning pitcher that day was position player Rocky Colavito. McDaniel was one of two pitchers used to finish things up after the Yankees improbably took a lead despite, you know, bringing in a position player to pitch.
Coming in for the eighth inning in a tie game, McDaniel would go four innings and allow two runs. That doesn’t sound great, but he actually got the win thanks in part to his batting.
In the top of the 11th, right after a two-RBI single from Jerry Kenney, McDaniel plated two runs of his own, giving the Yankees a four-run lead. The Yankees added more runs, but McDaniel then gave up the two mentioned earlier. The final score of 14-10 means that McDaniel’s RBI were technically the game-winning ones.
Two years later, McDaniel again pulled double duty.
After coming in to start the seventh, the lineup batted around to his spot in the ninth. McDaniel then slugged a solo home run, giving the Yankees the lead against the eventual division champion Tigers — sensing a trend. He unfortunately surrendered that lead in the ninth, but the Yankees did eventually win, and technically they would not have without his home run. To this day, McDaniel remains the last Yankees pitcher to hit a homer.
While a dreadful August and September would see them finish in fourth in 1973, the Yankees entered this game tied for second, just half a game behind the first-place Orioles. Their opponent on the day was, yes, the Tigers, the team they were tied with. It was an important game.
Starter Fritz Peterson had to leave the game after the first inning with an injury, and McDaniel was called upon to give the Yankees some length out of the bullpen. Boy did he. McDaniel held the Tigers in check, but the Yankees weren’t doing much on the other side. The game would go 14 innings, and McDaniel pitched all of the last 13. He allowed just one run on 13 hits as the Yankees eked out a 3-2 win. A 14.1 inning relief appearance from Jack Warhop in 1912 is the only longer one in franchise history.