Mike McCormick (pitcher)

Michael Francis McCormick (September 29, 1938  June 13, 2020) was an American baseball pitcher who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the New York/San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals from 1956 to 1971. He batted and threw left-handed and served primarily as a starting pitcher.

Mike McCormick
Born: (1938-09-29)September 29, 1938
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Died: June 13, 2020(2020-06-13) (aged 81)
Cornelius, North Carolina, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 3, 1956, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
May 22, 1971, for the Kansas City Royals
MLB statistics
Win–loss record134–128
Earned run average3.73
Career highlights and awards

Signed by the Giants as a bonus baby, McCormick went directly to the major leagues and made his debut on September 3, 1956. After spending seven seasons with the organization, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles and played two years there before being dealt again, this time to the Washington Senators. He returned to the Giants in 1967 and in his first season back with the team, he became the first pitcher in Giants franchise history to win the Cy Young Award (from 1956 to 1966, the Award was only given out to one pitcher rather than one from each of the two leagues). In the middle of the 1970 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees, who released him before the start of the next season. He then signed with the Kansas City Royals, with whom he played his last game on May 22, 1971.

Early life

McCormick was born on September 29, 1938 in Pasadena, California. He studied at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, California.[1] During this time, he played in American Legion Baseball, where he won 49 out of the 53 games he pitched, threw four no-hitters and struck out 26 batters in a game.[2]

After he graduated from high school, he married Carolyn Koehler on August 2, 1956.[3] Several weeks later, on August 31, the New York Giants signed him as an amateur free agent. Although McCormick was committed to attending college at the University of Southern California,[4] the Giants offered him a signing bonus of $50,000 to forego university and join the organization. Because of the Bonus Rule, he could not be placed in the minor leagues for two years.[5] As a result, he went directly to the major leagues and immediately began training with the first team the day after he signed.[2]

Professional career

McCormick made his major league debut for the Giants on September 3, 1956, at the age of 17,[1] relieving Rubén Gómez in the ninth inning and retiring all three batters he faced in a 5–1 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies.[6] He made two starts later in the season, and finished with a 0–1 win–loss record and a 9.45 earned run average (ERA) in 6+23 innings pitched.[1]

McCormick threw a five-inning rain-shortened no-hitter against the Phillies on June 12, 1959, allowing one walk.[7] The Phillies were able to secure 1 hit (and 1 run) in the bottom of the 6th inning, but the game was called because of the rain.[8]

As the 6th inning was never finished, the game statistics reverted to the completion of the last full inning, securing his no-hitter.[9] However, due to a statistical rule change in 1991, no-hitters must last at least nine innings to count. As a result of the retroactive application of the new rule, this game and thirty-five others are no longer considered no-hitters.[10]

At the end of the 1966 season, McCormick returned to the Giants in a trade that brought Cap Peterson and Bob Priddy to the Senators.[11]

The 1967 season saw McCormick churn out one of the best statistical years in his career. He led the National League (NL) in wins with 22,[1] and defeated every NL team other than the Giants that year.[12] At the end of the season, McCormick won the Cy Young Award,[13] garnering 90% of the vote and 18 out of 20 first place votes.[14] In doing so, he became the first Giants pitcher to win the award, and was the only one to do so for 41 years until Tim Lincecum won it in 2008.[15]

McCormick was described, apparently in good faith, as the player who hit the 500th home run by an MLB pitcher.[16] However, it is unclear how this was calculated, in an age without baseball encyclopedias, and it appears to have been a considerable under-estimate. In contrast, the claim that he was responsible for giving up Hank Aaron's 500th home run is undoubtedly correct.[17] Because of these two reports, he personalized his license plate with the words "Mr. 500".[16]

Personal life

After retiring from baseball, McCormick went on to pursue a career in securities business that he himself established over several MLB offseasons.

After three years in that field, he switched to office machines and copiers, working for Ricoh and then Danka, before retiring in 2002.[5]

He served annually as a guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants during spring training.[4] He also conducted the team's fantasy camps and occasionally commentated on Giants' games.[5]

McCormick's Cy Young Award plaque was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake after it fell off the wall of his Cupertino condominium. Although he was initially going to get the crack at the back repaired, he decided against it, noting how "it had more character now."[18] He then housed it in a special room along with other memorabilia from his career.[19]


McCormick had four children from his first marriage to Carolyn.[5] He was married to wife Dierdre for 34 years. They had one daughter, Tara.

After retiring from Danka, they moved from Sunnyvale, California[2] and settled in Pinehurst, North Carolina.[5] At the O'Neal School in Southern Pines, North Carolina, McCormick assisted the school's baseball program and donated his baseball memorabilia to the school to help them with their auctions.[20]


McCormick died on June 13, 2020, at his home in North Carolina. He was 81, and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease in the years leading up to his death.[21]

See also


  1. "Mike McCormick Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  2. Bitker, Steve (February 28, 2012). The Original San Francisco Giants: The Giants Of '58. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN 9781613211526. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  3. Baseball Register. C.C. Spink & Son. 1965. p. 276. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  4. Schott, Tom; Peters, Nick (2003). The Giants Encyclopedia. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 200. Retrieved September 18, 2013. mike mccormick pitcher.
  5. Johanson, Matt (2005). Giants: Where Have You Gone?. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 19–24. ISBN 9781582617794. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  6. "September 3, 1956 New York Giants at Philadelphia Phillies Play by Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. September 3, 1956. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  7. "Jun 12, 1959, Giants at Phillies Play by Play and Box Score". baseball-reference.org. sports-reference.org. June 12, 1959. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  8. "San Francisco Giants 3, Philadelphia Phillies 0". retrosheet.org. June 12, 1959. Retrieved April 30, 2016. [G]ame called for rain in the bottom of the sixth; the Phillies had the bases loaded with no one out with the score 4–1[.]
  9. "McCormick Hurls 5-Inning No-Hitter: Rain Preserves 3–0 Giant Win: Ashburn Single in Phil Half Of Sixth Canceled by Downpour". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Associated Press (AP). June 13, 1959. p. 12. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  10. Light, Jonathan Fraser (March 25, 2016). The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 658. ISBN 9781613211526.
  11. "Mike McCormick Returns To Giants". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. December 14, 1966. p. 10. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  12. "McCormick Hits Two Milestones". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg. Associated Press. August 15, 1967. p. 15A. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  13. "McCormick Wins Young Hill Award". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. November 1, 1967. p. 29. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  14. "1967 Awards Voting – NL Cy Young Voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  15. "Lincecum beats out Webb, is Giants' second Cy Young winner". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Associated Press. November 13, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  16. Embrey, Tom (April 15, 2009). "Cy Young Winner Will Share Story". The Pilot. Southern Pines. Retrieved September 19, 2013. (subscription required)
  17. "500th Home Run By Aaron". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. July 15, 1968. p. 2. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  18. Baggarly, Andrew (November 9, 2008). "McCormick Is Eager To Share Fame". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 19, 2013. (subscription required)
  19. Brown, Daniel (September 9, 2007). "McCormick Would Gladly Share His Cy Young-winning Status". San Jose Mercury News. p. 7C. Retrieved September 19, 2013. (subscription required)
  20. "Pitcher Mike McCormick Talks About Baseball". The Pilot. Southern Pines. April 15, 2009. Retrieved September 19, 2013. (subscription required)
  21. "Former Cy Young winner Mike McCormick dies at age 81". Associated Press. June 16, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
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