He threw the first pitch

I’ve written about the first baseball game I ever attended here. It was the summer of 1975, I was seven years old, and my dad drove me down to St. Louis to see a doubleheader between the Cardinals and the New York Mets. I remember a few things from that day, but the baseball end of it is a bit hazy. I didn’t know anything about the game at that point in my life, but I was eager to learn. Fortunately, there’s now online sources to assist me in reconstructing what I saw that day.

I remember that Tom Seaver, who was just about the best pitcher there was in 1975, was pitching for the Mets in Game 1 of the doubleheader. But what I couldn’t remember, because I didn’t know, was who pitched against him in that game. And the answer, according to baseball-almanac.com, is Lynn McGlothen, who later pitched for the Cubs but in 1975 was a Cardinals starter. He couldn’t know it then, but he was in the middle of the best three-year run of his career in St. Louis. In fact, he defeated the great Tom Seaver on that day. He must have been a pretty good pitcher in order to do that.

McGlothen came to the Cubs during the 1978 season, and he was a starter for the team in 1979 and 1980. He was traded to the White Sox in 1981, and his career came to an end with the Yankees in 1982. In his 11-year career, he threw 41 complete games, which is more than all but two active major-leaguers can say.

But the most shocking thing about Lynn McGlothen was that he died more than a quarter-century ago, and I never heard anything about it. Granted, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything in the summer of 1984, but when the trailer he was living in in his home state of Louisiana caught fire and took him along with it, there was no mention of it anywhere that I could tell. The Cubs themselves sure never mentioned it. He was only two years out of the game, and five years removed from this card, and only 34 years old. Life is indeed very short.

So if I was in the stands before the first pitch was thrown in St. Louis back in 1975–and I have to believe that I was–then the first pitch of a baseball game that I ever witnessed in my life was thrown by Lynn McGlothen. That’s pretty amazing, now that I think about it. Kudos to websites like Baseball-Almanac.com, which allow for memories to be reconstructed like this. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I ever do something like this.

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