Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14th, 1944

Billy McCool Born

Now that, loyal readers, is a great name. Sounds like some character in a bad, wannabe John Hughes 80s movie. Billy McCool, the popular jock who learns a lesson about life and love when he's forced to date the unpopular sophomore. Or something.

Moving right along to his feats on the diamond, McCool was a pitcher in the 60s for the Reds; he came up when he was just nineteen and posted a pretty good season--almost ninety innings, 2.42 ERA--pitching largely out of the bullpen. The next year he was the Reds' closer (as much as closers existed in 1965) and regressed somewhat, with his ERA going up to 4.27, although he did have twenty-one saves, second most in the National League. In 1966 McCool developed a slider and at age twenty-one had his best season, throwing more than a hundred innings with a 2.48 ERA, recording eighteen saves (again second in the league) and going to the All-Star game. At just age twenty-one, McCool seemed primed for a good, maybe even great, career as a reliever.

As it turned out, that would never come. McCool would lose his closer's job to Ted Abernathy in 1967 after an unsuccessful spell as a starter. Though he still managed a respectable 3.42 ERA, his career path was clearly heading the wrong way. In fact, despite being just twenty-two, McCool was essentially cooked as a ballplayer. He would post a 4.97 ERA in 1968 and was left unprotected in that winter's expansion draft where he was taken by the San Diego Padres. The changes of scenery failed to help and McCool put up a 4.30 ERA in San Diego. 1970 was the last year of McCool's career, as he pitched poorly in limited duties for the Cardinals. Ultimately, his story seems to be that the innings he threw at a young age (almost four hundred across nearly two hundred games) meant the promising second half of his career would never come. At least he always had that name though.

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