Mike McCormick, Comeback Cy Young Award Winner, Dies at 81

Mike McCormick, Comeback Cy Young Award Winner, Dies at 81

He told The Chronicle that by the time he retired, his left arm was crooked “like Carl Hubbell’s was,” citing the New York Giants’ Hall of Fame screwball specialist. “I’d play every day if I could,” he continued, “and that’s probably part of the reason I hurt my arm. I’d never say no. I’d say, ‘Fine, give me the ball.’ I loved it.”

Michael Francis McCormick was born on Sept. 29, 1938, in Pasadena, Calif., to Kenneth and Barbara McCormick. His father, who had pitched in semipro ball, tutored him in baseball basics.

Mike was a star high school pitcher in Alhambra, Calif., near Los Angeles, then signed for $50,000 with the Giants in 1956. Because of the size of his contract, he was known as a “bonus baby,” a player who had to spend his first two professional seasons in the majors, rather than the minor leagues, taking up a roster spot, a provision designed to discourage club owners from lavish spending (for that era) on untested young players.

Dropping plans to pitch for the University of Southern California, McCormick made his Giants debut on Sept. 3, 1956. He pitched in only 27 games, mostly in relief, with a 3-2 record before the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958. But his victory totals were in double figures during his first four years there.

After leaving baseball McCormick was a stockbroker, later sold office equipment and did promotional work for the Giants. He then settled in North Carolina.

He is survived by his second wife, Dierdre; their daughter, Tara; two sons, Michael Jr. and Matthew, and a daughter, Stacy Moeller, from a previous marriage; a stepson, Cory Hodge; seven grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Apart from his achievements, McCormick marked a milestone in which he was the victim: In July 1968, he gave up Hank Aaron’s 500th home run.

His license plates read, “MR 500.”

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