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Sam McDowell – 1973 Topps #511

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   Samuel Edward Thomas McDowell (born September 21, 1942 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), He played fifteen seasons in Major League Baseball, with the first 11 coming for the Cleveland Indians before a 1971 trade to the San Francisco Giants, followed by stints with the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. A six-time All-Star, McDowell was primarily a starting pitcher during his major league career. In 1970, McDowell put together some impressive totals. For the first and only time in his career, he reached the 20-win mark, posting a record of 20-12. He also led the American League in innings pitched, topping the 300 mark at 305. He reached the 300-strikeout mark as well for the first time since 1965 at 304, just barely missing out on a K/9 rate of 9.0, although he led the league in both those categories again. He also threw a career-high 19 complete games, second in the league to Mike Cuellar, giving him 37 complete games in the last two seasons. All this, combined with a fifth-best 2.92 ERA, led to his selection as “AL Pitcher of the Year” by The Sporting News. However, there were still some warning signs, as McDowell’s BB/9 jumped back up to 3.9, and he led the league in walks allowed with 131. He also led the league in wild pitches again with 17, the first time he had done so since 1967. He also gave up a career-high 25 home runs. McDowell finished with 2,453 career strikeouts and an average of 8.86 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, ranking him ninth all-time as of 2011. At the time of his retirement, his strikeout rate was bested by only two pitchers: Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. His ratio of 7.03 hits allowed per nine innings also places him ninth all-time as of 2011. He ranks eighth all time on the list of career ten or more strikeout games with 74, tied with Bob Gibson. His 2159 strikeouts as an Indian place him second all time on the team’s career list, behind Bob Feller. In four All-Star appearances, McDowell struck out twelve NL All-Stars over eight innings, and was the losing pitcher (in relief) in the 1965 game.
Following his “retirement”, the drinking increased, finally to the point where it cost him his marriage. His wife left him, taking their two children with her, leaving him desolate and broke. A failed business venture had left McDowell $190,000 in debt, and by early 1980 was living with his parents at his childhood home in Pittsburgh while selling insurance. Eventually, McDowell checked himself into Gateway Rehab, a rehabilitation facility located outside of Pittsburgh. After repaying his debts, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned associates degrees in sports psychology and addiction. Eventually, McDowell returned to the major leagues as a sports addiction counselor with the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers. McDowell earned a World Series ring while working with the 1993 Blue Jays. McDowell also works as a consultant with the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) and the Major League Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA). In 2001, McDowell remarried, and started a retirement community for former players. He became chairman and CEO at The City of Legends, a retirement resort in Clermont, Florida. McDowell married a second time after meeting Eva, a Slovak tourist, when asking for directions in Florida. The character of Sam Malone, the alcoholic ex-Red Sox pitcher portrayed by Emmy Award winning actor Ted Danson in the television program Cheers, was based on the baseball life of McDowell. In a 2011 interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, McDowell joked “I would say I’m better with women than [Sam Malone] was,”


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