Will McEnaney 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 5, 2017


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Well, I covered the three people who made the final outs of the 1975 World Series. Might as well honor the pitcher who got the three outs to clinch possibly the greatest World Series of all time.

He only played 6 seasons in the major leagues but man he shoved in some serious glory along the way.

McEnaney was from Springfield, Ohio, which is somewhere between Columbus and Cincinnati. He was drafted out of high school by the Reds in 1970, a good time to be drafted by the Reds.

At age 18, he flopped badly as a starting pitcher in Single A Sioux Falls. But the next year he got another chance and pitched well as a starter in Tampa. By 1972, he was a prospect as the left hander threw to a 2.80 ERA in 138 innings at Double A. He spent all of 1973 as a starting pitcher for Triple A Indianapolis but never did crack the big league roster.

In 1974, at age 22, he got his first taste in the majors. He had been converted to the bullpen and found his way into manager Sparky Anderson’s rotation of relievers.

In 1975, McEnaney made the club out of spring training. The team did not have a dominant ace starter. But with Rawly Eastwick, Pedro Borbon and Clay Carroll, they had an enormously deep bullpen. Fred Norman would sometimes relieve but with the emergence of McEnaney, he was inserted into the rotation for most of the year.

This was before managers had to constantly insert the same closer day in and day out. The save total among Reds relievers was spread out. Eastwick led the club with 22 but McEnaney picked up 15, Borbon got 5 and Carroll got 7.

On May 10th, McEnaney threw 3 2/3 innings for a save against the Mets. He had 2 other 3 inning saves and a 3 1/3 inning hold. The formula worked as the Reds won 108 games, more than any other National League team in the 1970’s.

In the NLCS against the Pirates, Anderson called in McEnaney to pitch with a 1 run lead in the 8th. He got out Rennie Stennett, Richie Hebner and Al Oliver. No easy task.

In the 9th, with the Reds 3 outs from the World Series, McEnaney let up a single to Willie Stargell before striking out Dave Parker. Rawley Eastwick came in to close out the pennant but allowed the tying run to score.

The Reds would take the lead and Pedro Borbon would get the save. I’m telling you, they used relievers differently then.

Truth be told, he had a rough post season. That run in the NLCS was charged to him. He also let up runs in his 2 innings of work in Game 1 of the World Series and his 1 2/3 innings in Game 3.

In Game 6, he came in with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th with the game tied at 6 after the Bernie Carbo homer. Fred Lynn hit a fly ball to left field that looked like it was deep enough to score Denny Doyle. But George Foster threw him out at home and McEnaney got Rico Petrocelli to make the final out of the inning.

It would be his only inning in that classic game.

In Game 7, Sparky Anderson had Rawley Eastwick and Pedro Borbon available to close out the greatest World Series of all time.

Instead he handed the ball to McEnaney. And if you have been reading these entries, you know that he got out Juan Beniquez, Bob Montgomery and Carl Yastrzemski to clinch it. He jumped on Johnny Bench and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The Reds fought through some slumps and injuries in 1976 but still won 102 games and ran away with the West.

McEnaney slumped badly, posting a 4.85 ERA and getting only 7 saves. Eastwick took the bulk of the work. McEnaney did not even appear in the NLCS sweep of Philadelphia.

The Reds took the first two games of the World Series from the Yankees without McEnaney throwing a pitch.

In Game 3, with the Yankees clinging to hope that they could get back into the World Series, Pat Zachry started. He saw the Yankees pull closer and with the score 4-2 Reds in the 7th, they had the tying runs on base and the go ahead run at the plate. The batter was ALCS hero Chris Chambliss. He got Chambliss to ground out.

After the Reds extended the lead to 6-2, McEnaney stayed in, working around hits in the 8th and 9th to earn the 2 1/3 inning save.

Game 4 was delayed a day and Anderson had a fresh bullpen for the clincher. Once again, McEnaney came into the game in the 7th, this time relieving Gary Nolan. Once again he had to retire Chris Chambliss who was again the potential go ahead run.

He did and threw a scoreless 8th to make the score 3-2 heading to the 9th. Johnny Bench hit a 3 run homer to put the game away.

McEnaney came out to pitch the 9th. He got Otto Velez, Mickey Rivers and Roy White out 1-2-3.

He became the third pitcher in the history of baseball to throw the clinching pitch of the World Series in back to back seasons. Art Nehf and Bob Kuzava were the first two. Mariano Rivera would eventually become the fourth to.

That would be his final pitch as a member of the Reds. In the off season, he and Tony Perez would be traded to the Expos. He had one decent but unspectacular season there. He was traded to the Pirates in 1978 but suffered through an injury plagued season.

In 1979, he wound up with the Cardinals and had a nice comeback year. His 2.95 ERA was his lowest since 1975 and he appeared in 45 games in relief. But that would be the of his big league career.

He played 1980 in the yankees system and then missed all of 1981. He tried comebacls with the Rangers in 1982 and the Independent Miami Marlins in 1985 before calling it quits.

One of the players he played with on that 1985 Marlins team was Mike Torrez. Now remember, McEnaney threw the clinching pitch of the 1975 and 1976 World Series. Torrez threw the clinching pitch of the 1977 World Series.

Those are some choice stories they could tell on the bus of an independent minor league team.

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