12/02/2002 1:09 pm ET
Dave McNally dead at 60
Former Orioles lefty part of landmark free-agency case
By Becky Dubin Jenkins / MLB.com
McNally's career stats
BALTIMORE -- For the second time in fewer than four months, the Orioles have lost a pitching legend. Late Sunday night, three-time All-Star and Orioles Hall of Famer Dave McNally died in his hometown of Billings, Mont. In late August, knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm died at the age of 79.
McNally, 60, had battled cancer for years, according to the the Billings Gazette, and had lived in his hometown since his retirement from the Major Leagues in 1976. He spent the 1975 season with the Montreal Expos after playing 12 full seasons and part of another for the Orioles.
In a statement issued by the Orioles, team chairman and CEO Peter Angelos said: "Dave was part of the foundation of this franchise, helping the Orioles to four pennants between 1966 and 1971. That he was the first pitcher inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame is testament to his place in Orioles history."
Despite his live arm, excellent control and All-Star status, McNally is perhaps best known for the landmark legal case he and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Andy Messersmith won in December 1975. Dissatisfied with baseball's reserve clause, the two pleaded their cases before a labor arbitrator and became unrestricted free agents. This led to the creation of today's free agent system in which veteran players can test the open market.
"[H]is impact on baseball, through his testing of the reserve clause in 1975, left an indelible mark for which all Major League Baseball players should be indebted to him," Angelos said."
At the time, McNally said that he went to court because the Expos had reneged on some mutually agreed upon stipulations for his contract.
McNally debuted for the Orioles in late 1962, pitching a two-hit shutout. He went on to amass a 184-119 regular-season record, including 33 shutouts, and retired with a 3.24 career ERA.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said McNally will be missed.
"All of baseball mourns the untimely passing of Dave McNally," Selig said. "Dave will be remembered as one of the aces of those great Baltimore Orioles pitching staffs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as for his role in the overturning of the reserve clause. He was a great left-hander who won 20 or more games in four consecutive seasons. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends."
McNally was 4-2 in four World Series, including a shutout in Game 4 of the Orioles' 1966 sweep of the Dodgers, Baltimore's first championship. McNally went 2-1 in the Birds' seven-game loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1971 World Series, and he was 3-2 in AL Championship Series games.
McNally had an AL-best .808 winning percentage in 1971, when he and teammates Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson combined to win 81 games. That year culminated McNally's four consecutive 20-win seasons, which started in 1968. He went 24-9 in 1970, when the O's beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games to win their second World Series. During Game 5, McNally not only earned the win, he also hit a grand slam -- the only pitcher to have done so in a World Series game.
McNally was an American League All-Star in 1969, '70 and '72, and he also was the lone O's player elected into the team's Hall of Fame in 1978. McNally was Baltimore's third inductee, following inaugural members Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.
Becky Dubin Jenkins is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.