When I was young, I had a few problems with Ernie McAnally. First, his name was far to close to Dave McNally, so they became inextricably linked in my mind. Second, Ernie pitched for the Expos and he didn't seem to win much. Third, (my apologies for my 8 year old self to all the Ernies out there, most of who I've learned in the last 35 years are great guys) Ernie just seemed like a funny name. I'm hoping I'm not the only one out here that arrived at feelings about a ball player based just on his name or how he looked. I guess I was one of those school bullies your parents warn you about. I also know I'm not alone.
Ernie started as an outfielder in the Mets' system. The card back says he hit so-so in the minors, but he couldn't hit well for a pitcher in the big leagues, with a lifetime .132. He did take Juan Pizzaro downtown in his rookie year of 1971. The Expos took a flyer on Ernie in the expansion draft because he'd only pitched one year, but they must have been impressed by his 9K/9 IP ratio that year. I like that the card back credits former big league ballplayers Wes Stock (who was coaching with the A's at the time) and Met farm director Whitey Herzog (a good shot at the Hall of Fame as a manager with the Rangers, Royals and Cards) for making the switch from outfield to the mound.
He made it in their rotation in 1971. It was his best season, 11-12, 3.90. His won-loss totals fell after that and he had a lifetime winning percentage of .380 in 4 years. That's quite a bit worse than even the Expos' .467 winning percentage over his career. The Indians purchased his contract at the beginning of the 1975 season and Ernie never smelled the big leagues again.
However, just looking at the numbers doesn't do a guy like Ernie justice. I found a writer who got to meet Ernie when she was a young girl through a friend. She paints a different story. He's a deeply religious guy who still occasionally talks to young ballplayers about "pitching and Jesus." He returned to Texas to become a banker. He proudly displays a scorecard from a game where he beat Bob Gibson for his second big league win.
When I read that article, I don't see the guy with the funny name that wasn't as good as the Oriole pitcher when I was young. I see the guy who got to live a dream, beat a Hall of Famer, and realizes what is really important in life. I think I'll start remembering that guy.