Head Hunting

A friend wrote to me recently about a young Christian who is playing in the minor leagues. One of his teammates got hit in the head by the pitcher and his manager ordered him to hit a batter on the other team in the head. What should he do? He refused to obey the manager and was shipped out. I have only sketchy details, but it has brought up a serious problem. These are the kind of dilemmas faced by some pitchers in the rough and tumble game of baseball. This is called retaliation. You hit my player and we will hit your player. But what if you are a Christian and you seek to live your life according to the values of Jesus Christ?

There are many situations involving this age old problem. Did Nolan Ryan have the right to protect himself from a batter charging the mound? Did he have a reputation for throwing at hitters? I do know that he was very fast and was a bit wild at times. This can work to the advantage of the pitcher. But the moral key here is deliberate intent. It is very hard, if not impossible, to prove deliberate intent, but the player himself surely knows. In my opinion, to hit a batter with deliberate intent is a cowardly and dangerous act. If a pitcher wanted to, and had good control, it would not be that hard to hit a batter in the head. You would simply throw the ball behind the batter’s head a few inches, for the first reaction is to jerk your head back. In all of baseball history, since this is such a dangerous and cowardly act, I suspect that such things have seldom occurred. What is much more common is for the pitcher to hit the batter in the lower part of his body. This serves the purpose of both intimidating the batter and reducing the risk of injury. Nevertheless, we are dealing with deliberate intent, and the pitcher would have to accept the consequences of such a decision. There is no doubt in my mind that there have been many injuries, and even careers ruined, due to pitchers deliberately throwing at hitters. As a Christian, I still must follow the golden rule.

Fortunately, in my 20 years of pitching in the Major Leagues I was never ordered to hit a batter. But in the history of baseball, this act has been repeated over and over. Some great pitchers in the past had a reputation for hitting batters. Today, Major League baseball maintains a tight control over such things, and if a batter is hit, even if it is unintentional, both teams are warned not to retaliate. Even a near miss around the head can result in a quick rejection. It is up to the umpires to control the game without trying to read minds and today the control is much stricter than in the past. The umpires today have more discretion in these matters and seek to prevent problems before they get out of hand. Every successful pitcher has to pitch the batter inside, either off the plate to get the batter out, or what is called the “brush back”. On the brush back, the ball is thrown inside, but not behind the batter where he has no chance to get out of the way. Sal Maglie, a pitcher for the New York Giants, was nicknamed “the barber” due to his reputation of brushing back hitters. Others pitchers, such as Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson, were known for their reputation of hitting batters. The practice was much more common in the past than it is today. But the fact remains, if the pitcher deliberately hits a batter, whether in retaliation or a part of his repertoire, he is responsible for the resulting consequences. As a Christian, this would create a moral dilemma. I would not want to build my career at the expense of causing injury to others.

I am not sure how I avoided the dilemma of a manager ordering me to hit a batter. So I am not totally sure just what I would have done, except I know that I would never deliberately hit a batter. I do know that there are a number of managers and players who believe that retaliation would be the only way to protect players on the team. But I would call that “bush league” baseball. Fortunately baseball at the Major League level is moving away from such tactics. If I wanted to send a warning, I would throw the brush back pitch or throw the ball over the batters head. But of course I had pretty good control and the batter was safer than he might suspect.

That reminds me of this story. I remember hitting only two batters with my fastball during my entire career. Some managers would say that I was not mean enough, although I did have considerable success, and did believe in pitching batters inside. Both occasions happened during a one week period where I was having difficulty with my control. This was in 1967 when I was playing for the San Francisco Giants. I had two strikes and no balls on Ron Santo of the Cubs, and on the next pitch I drilled him in his left side. The ball hit so solid it fell straight to the ground. Ron’s first reaction was to charge me. He took one step and quickly changed his mind. He smiled and went to first. Why? Because we were teammates for three years and he knew that I did not deliberately hit batters. The other occasion happened a few days later when I was pitching against the Astros in Houston. Don Wilson, the very tall pitcher for the Astros, was the batter. The count was two strikes and no balls and I drilled him in the side. His anger flared and he started for the mound. I just stood there not knowing what to expect. Half way to the mound, he changed his mind and went to first. He was still very angry. The next day I was standing in the outfield during batting practice. He walked toward me. Now I am thinking, “What is going to happen now?” Here is what he said, “Mr. McDaniel, I want to apologize to you for my anger. When I returned to the dugout, the players on my team informed me that you do not deliberately hit batters.” Folks, it is all about deliberate intent.

I remember on one occasion facing Ron Hunt, who seemed not to mind getting hit by the ball. He would lead the league every year for hit batters. He would crowd the plate, and anything inside would find his body somehow. He would just turn his body a bit and take one for the team. This time I had two strikes on him, and threw the ball inside. That pitch got away from me and went straight for his head. That was one time he didn’t take one for the team. He went down flatter than a pancake, leaving his batting helmet floating in the air and his bat flying in another direction. He got up and dusted himself off showing no emotion. When he got back in the batters box, I drilled a fastball low and away which he took for strike three. I did enjoy that particular moment. For one thing I knew that I was not trying to hit him. Even though the fast ball went straight at his head, I knew that there was little chance that he would be hit. However there have known cases where batters simply “freeze” at the plate and did not get out of the way. Early in his career, Hank Aaron was often deliberately thrown at by pitchers. But he did not “freeze” at the plate nor would he give in to intimidation. He became a more determined hitter, and pitchers finally quit throwing at him. Perhaps the Lord was watching after me. But I do know that I would rather have ended my own career than be responsible for ending that of someone else. If we cannot practice the values of Jesus Christ on the sports field, in business, or in social situations in general, then where do we practice these values?

Baseball players have paid a big price for bending the rules and going along with the idea that anything goes as long as you win. It would seem to me that men of moral integrity will always elevate the game. Each person still has to look himself in the mirror every morning. I believe even rough and tumble baseball players can play by the golden rule. We need to do more than mere lip service as to good sportsmanship and playing according to the rules of the game. Even if cheating might give a player an edge, in the long run it does neither him nor the game any good. But some people care only about themselves. The examples of high profile athletes do have a influence, both for good or evil, upon thousands of others.

---Lindy McDaniel, August, 2010
Contact Lindy by E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

Four Major Comebacks

My baseball career was characterized by four major comebacks. What I mean is that there were four times when it seemed that my career in the major leagues was over, when I was just hanging on by a thread, only to somehow manage a comeback where I would enjoy outstanding success. The bad times help you to appreciate the good times. Most of us would just as soon leave off the bad times and just experience the good times, but usually life does not come that way. In my case, I am thankful to God for the bad times. These are the times that try our souls, test our character and make real growth possible. I am quite certain that if I would have continued to enjoy the baseball success that was mine in 1959 and 1960, I could not have handled the prosperity and popularity that would have come my way. Nor would it have made me a better person. It ought not be this way, but success often breeds pride and selfishness. This is why Jesus said that it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus said about the rich would also apply to sports celebrities. So I want to write briefly about my low points and comebacks.

After enjoying success as a rookie (1956) and winning 15 games my sophomore year (1957), I hit a wall in 1958. Much publicity surrounded my brother Von (age 18) and me (age 21) in 1957, as we were acclaimed as the “new brothers act” with the Cardinals being compared to the Dean brothers of the 1930’s and 40’s. We won 22 games as starting pitchers. We were written up in Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and gobs of other articles and publications. In 1958, Von hurt his arm ending his Major League career. My fastball quit sinking and I could no longer dominate the hitters. I started two games in which I did not get even one hitter out! In August of 1958 I was sent to the minor leagues, playing for the Omaha Redbirds--- The Cardinals triple A club. There I compiled a record of 4 wins and 1 loss, and was brought back up to the Cardinals in September.

Comeback Number One

In 1959 I was used as a spot starter and still was having trouble getting hitters out with my fastball. By the latter part of May, my record was a troubling 1 win and 4 losses. On May 24th I asked Howie Pollet, my pitching coach, if I could go to the bullpen. I didn’t think I was getting enough work and this would give me more opportunities. My opportunity came that very same day in the 5th inning in Chicago. As I was warming up, Howie suggested that I try throwing strictly straight overhand. In the past I had done this occasionally against left-handed batters, and my fastball seemed more lively. So I heeded his advise and picked up a win by shutting out the Cubs pitching 5 plus innings. I stayed with a straight overhand delivery for the next three months racking up enough wins and saves to lead the league in relief pitching. My old delivery was ¾ overhand, with a long stride, getting very low to the ground. My new delivery was straight overhand, with a short stride, and using more leverage in my delivery. I described it as a straight overhand whipping motion. In 1960 I added the “forkball” to go with my fastball and curve, and I was virtually blowing the hitters away. My record in relief was 12 wins, 2 losses, 26 saves and an E.R.A. of 1.29. My total E.R.A. was over 2.00 because I started two games giving up 12 runs. That year I was awarded the first “fireman award” trophy.

However in 1961 and 1962 everything went south. My pitching mechanics were all messed up and I did not seem to be able to put everything back together. I had forgotten how to throw straight overhand in the proper way, and my rhythm kept breaking up. How is that possible? It is like a golfer who loses his stroke, and the more he experiments, the worse it gets. It was awful, but that’s life. There were no movie pictures of my pitching in 1960 for comparison. In the winter of 1962, I was traded to the Chicago Cubs. I received calls from sports writers who wanted to know if I was going to retire. So now I needed to make comeback number two.

Comeback Number Two

In spring training with the Cubs, I was trying too hard and hurt my arm. I had pulled some muscles in my elbow by forcing my fastball. I did not pitch for three weeks. The only thing that seemed to help was soaking my arm in the whirlpool at 114 degrees for 25 minutes. Then I could straighten out my right pitching arm. Once I starting pitching again, my old rhythm surprisingly came back, and was again getting hitters out with good ball movement. Don’t ask me to explain any of this. In 1963 I again led the National League in relief pitching and for the second time received the “fireman award”. My pitching remained pretty consistent up until 1967. I hit a huge road block with my manager with the San Francisco Giant, Herman Franks. I do not have space here to go into details. By mid-season 1968, my E.R.A. was a dismal 7.57. I was trying hard to get away from the Giants and no one was willing to pick me up. This was absolutely the lowest point of my career. So I was ready for comeback number three.

Comeback Number Three

The New York Yankees made a deal for me on July 12, 1968. All the details here make a very interesting story, but I must pass quickly on. During the last half season of 1968, I revived the Yankee bullpen by picking up 4 wins against 1 loss, 10 saves and an E.R.A. of 1.68. I was back! In 1970 the Yankees had one of the best bullpens in Major League History with a total of 75 wins and saves in relief. My own contribution was 13 wins and 29 saves with an E.R.A. of 2.05. In those days you had to pitch 2 or 3 innings to get a save. In August of 1968 I retired 32 consecutive batters spread out over four games. I spent 5 ½ years with the Yankees and the only bad thing is that we mostly had a young inexperienced team and was lacking the power house and balance of those great Yankee teams of the past. But I enjoyed wearing the Yankee pinstripes and being a part of their great history. However, I was to face another big bump in the road.

After the great year in 1970, I found myself unable to get hitters out. Early in 1971, I must have blown several leads in one week. Something was definitely not right. This is what I finally figured out. Just before spring training, I had to under go a three hour operation on my throat to remove a large golf ball size calcium deposit. This evidently left me in a weakened condition that did not appear so noticeable at the time, but in professional baseball, small things can make a big difference. I did not have that extra stuff that keeps the hitter from making good contact with the ball. My good manager, Ralph Houck, stuck with me because of what I had done for the Yankees in the past, but it was not a pretty sight. I was getting booed and my pitching was hurting the ball club. Finally, Ralph quit using me and it was during this time that the Yankees acquired Sparky Lyle, who became a great stopper in the bullpen. As for me, I wasn’t used much for about a year.

Comeback Number Four

Toward the end of 1972, Ralph starting using me again, and my stuff was back to normal. It had been normal long before that, but I lacked opportunity. In 1973, I had a great year with the Yankees. So that ends my brief little story about some of the ups and downs of my career. I am neither bragging nor complaining, but just stating the facts.

Sports can teach many valuable lessons about life. For one thing, athletes learn how to overcome obstacles, not to quit and to stay focused. Life is not always being on top of the world. There are many disappointments and things do not always go our way. But we must keep trying to reach our goals.

Now to keep things in perspective, were these the best and worst things to happen to me in my life? No. Not at all. Real life is not sports and such things. In fact when people become fanatical about sports, I’m thinking that they should “get a life”. Nevertheless for many of us sports are a nice diversion or recreation from the normal flow and problems of life. Naturally, for professional athletes, it is their livelihood, which makes it a bit more serious. Are there more important things? You bet! These are the things that I will be mostly writing about. The apostle Paul put it this way: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for who I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3:7-11). I have been speaking of my life in baseball, but Paul here was referring to his previous life as a Jew. Same difference, except Paul had more credentials in the flesh if he wanted to brag. But all bragging stops when we consider what Christ has done for us and the great blessings to be found in Christ.

---Lindy McDaniel
E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

Photos And Background

This post of Pitching For The Master is devoted totally to baseball photos and some background information for my readers. This may be a lot more than you want to see and know, but here I go anyway. The first photo is taken of me when I was 16 years old winning the Oklahoma State Championship in American Legion Baseball in 1952. In the photo are my two brothers, Von and Kerry Don, serving as batboys. Next is a series of photos in St. Louis Cardinal uniform, including some of my brother Von and me, followed by photos when I played for the Cubs, Giants, Yankees and Royals. This posting has no religious content, but is here to humor some of the baseball fans among my readers. Just a little journey back into history. As I often say to young people, we are here today to talk about ancient history – when I was a player.

Lindy McDaniel – Background information (Note: much of the material below was published in announcement of my retirement by the Kansas City Royals in 1975)

Lindy was the first born of Newell and Ada Mae McDaniel, born on December 13, 1935 in Hollis, Oklahoma. He had two brothers, Von and Kerry Don, who also played professional baseball. His brother Von died on August 20, 1995.

Lindy grew up on a farm just north of Hollis, Oklahoma. He attended a small country high school called Arnett but he credits the American Legion Baseball team in Altus, Oklahoma for giving him the opportunity to develop his baseball skills. Altus played 72 games in 1951 and 65 games in 1952. They won the state championship both years. At age 16, Lindy started and won his first 19 starts in 1952. In addition to his valuable American Legion experience, Lindy played four years of high school and played summer ball in Oklahoma City, Bentonville, Ark., and Sinton, Texas. By pitching more than 30 games per year from age 15 to 19, Lindy developed a strong pitching arm which enabled him to jump straight to the big leagues without minor league training. At age 19 he was labeled as a “can’t miss” Big League talent by Cardinal manager Harry Walker. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on August 19, 1955 for a bonus of $50, 000.

Along with Hoyt Wilhelm and Elroy Face, He became one of the great pioneers of relief pitching. During his prime he could warm up in less then one minute and relied on a good fastball, a forkball, a sharp slider and good control. He was a “thinking” pitcher. He led the league in “wins” and “saves” in 1959, 1960 and 1963. He pitched at a time when the closer or top relief pitcher was expected to pitch 2 or more innings facing both right and left handed hitters. He compiled 172 “saves” and was 2nd all time in wins in relief with 119. He was 3rd in lifetime appearances for pitchers with 987.

During his career he has witnessed approximately 3,500 major league games (not including spring training). He has had more than 300 teammates including such stars as Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Mickey Mantle, and George Brett. He has played under eight different managers in five organizations covering a span of thirteen and one-half seasons in the National League and seven and one half in the American League. Lindy played for five Major League organizations – the St. Louis Cardinals (1955-1962), the Chicago Cubs (1963-1965), the San Francisco Giants (1966-1968), the New York Yankees (1968-1973), and the Kansas City Royals (1974-1975).

Lindy’s overall record is 141-119 with a 3.45 ERA. He made 74 starts covering 2,186 innings. He had eight seasons in which he recorded an ERA under 3.00, seven double-victory seasons and 20 or more saves in three different seasons. His victory high came in 1957 when he won 15 games as a starter, his busiest season was 1965 when he made 71 appearances and his lowest ERA came in 1970 with a 2.01 ERA. Lindy considers his top overall year as 1960 with the St. Louis Cardinals when he logged a 12-2 mark in relief with 26 saves and an E.R.A. in relief of 1.29 while being named to the National All-Star team and receiving Fireman-of-the-Year honors.

There have been numerous highlights in McDaniel’s career, including several league records. In 1968 he tied an American League standard by retiring 32 consecutive batters over a four-game span. He also played in a National League record 225 consecutive games without making an error.

In 21 years the Hollis, Oklahoma native has had many outstanding single-game performances, but a 1963 outing against the San Francisco Giants stands out the most in his mind. It came June 6 when he was pitching for the Cubs.

“I’ll always remember it. The Giants came to Wrigley Field in first place and were leading the Cubs by four games at the time. We swept the first three games and the fans were going wild. A win in the final contest would put us in a tie for first place. That Sunday we had another capacity crowd, and the score was tied in the top of the tenth inning. I was brought in to relieve Dick Ellsworth, our starting pitcher, with the bases loaded and one out. The first thing I did, with the help of the catcher and shortstop, was to pick Willie Mays off second base, and then I struck out Ed Bailey on three pitches getting us out of the jam. I received a standing ovation when I walked to the dugout. I was the first batter up in the bottom of the tenth and hit a home run to win the game. As I rounded the bases, I was received by the entire ballclub at home plate and was given a very prolonged standing ovation from the fans. You know about those Cub fans!”

Watching his brother, Von, pitch as his teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1957 also ranks among his most gratifying moments. “It was a great thrill for me to watch Von pitch. He was only 18 years old, just two weeks out of high school but stepped right in and shutout the Dodgers in his first start. He went on to pitch a one hitter against the Pirates.” In fact, Von did not allow a run in his first 20 major league innings including two relief stints prior to the 2-0 win over the Dodgers. Unfortunately he hurt his arm the next spring.

McDaniel’s career had its “ups” and “downs”. Four times his career was on the verge of ending when he would make a spectacular comeback. These comebacks came in 1959-1960, 1963-1966, after joining the Yankees in 1968 and in 1972-73.

“I felt my career was hanging by a thread each time, but somehow I was always able to make the necessary adjustments and bounce back,” he said. “As a relief pitcher, I was a workhorse. The more I pitched, the more effective I became. Some managers did not understand this. Also, being a relief pitcher is probably one of the most volatile positions in baseball.”

Lindy’s biggest disappointment is never to have played in a World Series. He shares this disappointment with other greats such as Ernie Banks, Ralph Kiner, Billy Williams, and Ferguson Jenkins. Others who participated in only one World Series are men like Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Robin Roberts, and Bob Feller. It takes great team balance and team work to go all the way.

“A number of factors have contributed to my longevity,” Lindy reports. “Freedom from serious injury, an easy pitching delivery, clean living, good conditioning, a high motivation level, a strong belief in God, the opportunity to pitch and self-discipline.”

Note: Currently I preach some and teach the Bible at the Lavon church of Christ in Lavon, Texas. I also serve as one of the elders. I conduct various gospel meetings for churches across the country by invitation. I also try to do as much writing as I can. My wife, Nancy, and I live in Lavon, Texas and between us we have 8 children and 18 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. All this keeps me going during my golden years!

E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

Signing My First Baseball Contract

Back in August 19th of 1955, I signed my first professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. I had just completed an amateur career consisting of 4 years of high-school baseball, 2 summers of Legion baseball, and 3 summers of sandlot or simi-pro baseball. Thus, I had a lot of maturity for a 19 year old. My real start was playing American Legion Baseball in Altus, Oklahoma. My dad was a poor farmer, and when I was fifteen years old, he drove me 50 miles to play baseball in Altus. It was in Altus where I was exposed to great coaching, a great group of guys who knew how to play the game, a great sponsor, and wonderful fan support. Our team was fortunate enough to win the State Championship both in 1951 and in 1952. We played the top teams in all the surrounding states. It was also in 1952 that baseball scouts begin to take notice of my pitching. Realizing that I had exceptional talent, my dad made sure that I was given opportunity to develop by exposing me to good coaching and good competition. He did the same for both of my brothers, Von and Kerry Don. I must quickly note the indispensible role of my mom in providing moral and spiritual support, washing countless loads of uniforms, etc., and her unselfish and tireless devotion to the family.

In 1952, the Altus team had made a train trip to St. Louis were we played in Sportsman Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. We played against the top American Legion team in the city. I pitched the first six innings giving up one hit, and we won the game 9 to 1. It was a great thrill for a 16 year old to meet Stan Musial and many of the Cardinal players. I was a great Cardinal fan from a very young age.

My Amateur Background

After 1952, I developed my pitching gradually by playing in various summer leagues. I played simi-pro baseball in Oklahoma City (1953), in Bentonville, Arkansas (1954) and Sinton, Texas (1955) for the Plymouth Oil Company. Naturally I played high-school baseball, but it was the summer leagues that were most instrumental in my development. In high-school, we barely had enough to players to make up a team, and the coaching was poor.

When I graduated from high-school in the spring of 1954, I received a full athletic scholarship to play basketball for Oklahoma University. I also participated in their baseball program. Being a freshman, we were not allowed to play varsity. Although I was scouted by the Cardinals and other clubs, no club had offered me a professional baseball contract.

It was during the summer of 1955 that my break finally came. When I played for the Sinton, Texas ballclub, we were in a very fast league and even played against some professional teams. Our coach was Jack Trent who was the University of Texas varsity baseball coach. We had some very outstanding players. My record was 6 wins and 2 losses which was not that outstanding. I also ran into some lower back problems which were diagnosed as some kind of virus in my back. I did not pitch for about 3 weeks.

At the end of three weeks I was throwing hard on the sidelines. When I walked by the stands going toward the dugout, an old gentlemen motioned me to come over. He introduced himself as a Scout for the Philadelphia Phillies. He said that the Phillies were willing to offer me $30,000 to sign a contract. This took me by surprise, but I didn’t change my expression, and explained to him that my plans were to go to college. As soon as I got back to the dorm, I called my dad and told him what the man had said. Dad immediately called Fred Hawn, a Cardinal scout who had been closely following my development. Fred lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He got excited and hopped in his Cardinal Red Ford Thunderbird convertible and rushed to Hollis, Oklahoma to pick up my dad. Then both of them came to Sinton, Texas to see what was going on.

They picked me up at the dorm, we ate a late lunch, and all of us went to the ball park. We arrived about 3 hours before game time. Fred, being an old catcher always carried his catching mitt. He had swarthy, dark complexion, was short and well built, and he offered a good target for my pitches. I threw to him for about 40 minutes or so. My back was now feeling good, and my fast ball was really hopping. My coach was watching and badly wanted me to pitch in the game that evening. Fred told him, “No, he has done too much throwing to do that.” Then turning to my dad and me, he said, “Lindy, how would you like to try out for the Cardinals?” The Cardinals had always been my club, so I said, “When?” He said, “How about right now?” We picked up my things at the dorm, and off we went to the farm in Oklahoma. Here dad and I packed a few things. We got up early the next morning and we were off to St. Louis. I am not sure how fast Fred drove. The distance to St. Louis from the farm was 700 miles. and we arrived there in the middle of the afternoon. We checked into the Fairgrounds Hotel, just three blocks north of the Cardinal ball park. I remember that my dad and Fred Hawn seemed very nervous. You might say they were on “pins” and “nettles”! But I was just taking it all in and nothing seemed to bother me much. Maybe I was just too young to understand.

My Try-Out With The Cardinals

After unpacking, we went straight to the ball park. My try-out had been set up two days in advance. Doggie Lynch, a very jolly chubby man, met us at the entrance door to the Cardinal clubhouse. I was taken to a small dressing room and was fitted in an old Cardinal uniform. After suiting up, I was taken out to the playing field was greeted by Harry Walker, the manager. My dad and Fred Hawn were watching from the lower seats, just a few feet away. He directed me to a mound on the side lines and an old batting practice catcher was waiting there to catch me. I warmed up for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then Harry said, “O.K. That’s enough for now. I would like for you to come again tomorrow.” I replied, “But don’t you want to see me cut loose?” He said, “Aren’t you cutting loose?” I said, “Nah, I was just warming up.” He said, “O.K., let me see you cut loose.” Well, I did cut loose and the old catcher could barely hold on to my pitches. About that time, I noticed a number of Cardinals players edging toward the sidelines to get a closer look. Afterwards, Harry Walker told to come back the next day.

On the second day, I was well rested from the trip. I was allowed to throw batting practice to the extra men, that is, those who are not in the regular line-up. I was allowed to pitch on the big mound. Around home plate was a large batting cage and Dell Rice was my catcher. He had me to throw different pitches including curve balls, while the batters were taking their turns to hit. The batters were told what was coming, but none of them were able to hit the ball solid. I was throwing strike after strike. Again I came to the ballpark for the third day in a row. This time, Harry Walker and some of the regulars actually tried to hit off of me. I still maintained good control and none were hitting the ball solid. I had a long stride, ¾ overhand delivery and threw a very heavy fastball which sank naturally as it approached the batter.

My Contract Negotiation

After my third tryout was completed, I took a shower and was escorted to a big office at the Stadium. In this large room was my dad, Fred Hawn, Dick Meyers (Vice president of the Cardinals), Joe Mathis (head of the scouting system), Bing Divine (general manager), Harry Walker and myself. This was pretty awesome occasion for a 19 year old kid. After some small talk, the purpose of the meeting was finally stated. Bing Divine said, “Lindy, the Cardinals would like to sign you to a contract. We like the way you throw. What will it take for us to sign you?” Getting straight to the point I said, “I want $50,000 to sign!” Just then the room became very quiet. (You see, years ago in 1952 my dad sit by a man in the stands in Altus, and he told my dad, “Don’t let your kid sign for anything under $50,000.” My dad made the mistake of telling me. This figure had always stuck in my mind, and from that day my goal was to play for the Cardinals and sign for $50,000) Finally, Bing Divine broke what seemed like a long period of silence by saying, “Lindy, we don’t have the authority here to sign you for that much money.” I replied, “Well, all I know is that the Cardinals have always been my team. I did not go from club to club to see who would give me the most money, but I do want $50,000 to sign.” They could see that I was a very determined young kid. Mr. Divine responded, “Well, we will need to contact Augie Busch who owns the Cardinals. He must have the final word on this.” After a few minutes, Augie Busch, the owner of the Cardinals, was reached by phone. He was somewhere in the states in his private railroad car. I did not hear the conversation, but I was told that Mr. Busch flat turned down my request. He told Mr. Divine that bonus players have not worked out well for the Cardinals in the past. Then Harry Walker said to Bing, “Let me speak to Mr. Busch.” Again, I did not hear the conversation, but after a few minutes talking with Walker, Busch agreed to meet my price! (Many years later, Walker told me that there were only two young players that he had labeled “can’t miss” in his career. One was Al Kaline and the other was me. So I guess he told Mr. Busch that I was a “can’t miss” prospect.)

The total negotiation was not over. Mr. Divine took me aside privately just to find out if my goal was to get a large bonus or did I really want to play baseball for the Cardinals. I was able to convince him that my goal was to succeed in baseball. Then I informed Bing Divine that I could not sign a professional contract unless I was guaranteed the opportunity to worship on the first day of every week. Seeing that this was a matter of conscience, he agreed to this stipulation, and this verbal agreement was honored by all of the clubs I played for throughout my entire professional career.

It seems that everything went unusually well during those few days in St. Louis. My mom was very concerned about the influence that professional baseball would have on me. I knew that it would be impossible for me to survive spiritually unless I put God first in my life. Part of this was the guarantee that I would have the opportunity to worship. As a side point, at the time of my signing, if a player signed a bonus contract for over $8,000.00 he had to stay on the Big League Roster for two years. This was to discourage clubs from signing players to large bonus contracts. Fortunately, those two years were not wasted by sitting on the bench, as I good enough to work into the regular pitching rotation.

Normally my articles appearing in “Pitching For The Master” are full of scripture, but this article is an exception. This is just a small window into my background as a pitcher. The main point I am trying to make is that whatever profession we choose in life, we need to put God first. As a baseball player, I had many “ups” and “downs”. I never did believe that success on the playing field = success as a Christian. Nor did I believe that failure on the playing field = failure as a Christian. Some of my best pals were just average players, and some of the worst role models were superstars. After all is said and done, baseball is simply a vocation. Compared to knowing Christ, success in baseball amounts to nothing (see Phil. 3:4-9). Look for future articles containing the good stuff.

---Lindy McDaniel
February, 2010

Godly Influence In A Worldly Atmosphere

I have often pondered the issue of how a Christian can survive in an worldly atmosphere. I wrote the article, “Sitting in the back of the bus” as a warning of how evil companionship can corrupt good morals. Yet as long as we live in this world, it is impossible for us to avoid worldly associations. The apostle Paul stated this truth in 1 Cor. 5:9-11: “ I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” Paul went on to explain that his first statement was referring to people "inside" the church, for the church has every right to judge those within its own fellowship. (see 1 Cor. 5:11-13).

As to associating with the people of the world, it is impossible, in our various vocations and activities, not to have contact with such people. In fact, Christians not only have a duty to associate but also to become a positive influence to those living around us. The real question is how can this be accomplished without the Christian being influenced by the world? First, I would say that it is impossible if we are not receiving strength from Christ and from godly people. As Christians, we have a dependence upon Christ as well as an inter-dependence on others who are following Christ (see John 15:1-4; Heb. 10:25; 1 John 4:7). From this comes our basic strength to go into the world and become the light of the world. Paul wrote: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Phil. 2:14-15). Early in my career, I did do some grumbling about the atmosphere of the game, but a good friend chided me, “Lindy, if you only associated with angels, you couldn’t do them any good! So it is a good thing that you associate with those who need your help!”

Here are some practical suggestions as to how we should deal with the people of the world. First, look at every individual as being important in the eyes of God, since every man has been created in God’s image (See Gen. 1:26). Treat every person you meet with respect, regardless of what you think of his lifestyle, knowing that you also have sinned and do not deserve the grace of God (See Rom. 12:16; Titus 3:1-5). Do not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good (see Rom. 12:18-21). Do not allow anger and bitterness to rule your heart (see Eph. 4:31). Be proactive in finding constructive ways to relate to your friends and neighbors. Learn to share in their sorrows and rejoice in their accomplishments (see Romans 12:15). The best way to relate to people is meet them on their emotional levels. Since every person has sorrows and joys as a human being, learn to feel both their joys and their sorrows. Learn to use appropriate speech that builds bridges rather than destroys relationships (See Col. 4:6 -- this can be done in all kinds of ways without compromising faith in Jesus Christ). These are some of the “good works” that glorify Christ.

Since baseball can be a roller coaster of emotional “ups” and “downs”, I learned to sincerely compliment the good and take time to encourage those who were down. You would be surprised how much jealousy there could be on a ballclub where every person is competing for a job. And without being a “busybody in other people’s business” you can show a genuine interest in family, kids, etc. I am not saying that I was perfect by any means in doing any of these things, but I had to learn from experience how to conduct myself in an ungodly world. Such things go a long way in influencing others without you having to be one of the “good old boys” in using worldly language, telling smutty stories, or engaging in immoral conduct. Peter admonished, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). This can be done while at the same time we are to “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). When you show respect in the ways mentioned here, then you will also gain respect. What people do not respect is pretending to be righteous when in fact you are not.

Christians must be careful not over react to what the world does. By this I am not suggesting that the Christian should not blush nor feel anger at man’s inhumanity to man, but the world is going to do what the world has always done. The apostle John wrote: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” It was John who consistently contrasted the world with the Christian (see 1 John 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 4:4-5, etc.). But in confessing this, we do not need to join a convent, live in a cave, or join some commune to keep the world outside. We should not become influenced and hardened by the world, but, rather, we should to learn how to relate to sinners (since sin is our universal common experience – Titus 3:1-3). Yes, the world will do its thing, but we are called to do our thing. As Paul wrote: “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). It just so happens that the weapons at our disposal are a lot more powerful (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5). As a footnote I might add that with both the Yankees and the Royals, I was selected to be the “player representative” in dealing with owners and matters pertaining to general agreements with baseball.
--- Lindy McDaniel, February 2010

P.S. Photo of me at Yankee Stadium in 1968 on the day I pitched seven perfect innings against the Detroit Tigers. During that span I had retired 32 hitters in a row over 4 games.

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