Friday, March 6, 2009

#58 -- Ernie McAnally

Ernie McAnally

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.


  1. Two things:

    1. I've always had the same problem as you, confusing Ernie McAnally with Dave McNally. The confusion has lasted so long that I thought McAnally was dead. When it's actually McNally who is deceased. I hope your story helps me separate the two.

    2. My best friend in 4th grade was named Ernie. The name never bothered him, but he was an eccentric sort. Now, he's a rather famous and successful talk show host.

  2. We take great pride that Ernie came up through our Junior College and like many, has gone on get 'that big break' in professional baseball. The list of notable baseball players from PJC include former Ranger GM, Eddie Robinson, Twins field general, Ron Gardenhire, Pirates infield coach Perry Hill (who was with the Marlins when they won the World Series), Larry McWilliams and more recently two players were drafted from the 07-09 teams!
    Ernie is a banker in nearby Mt. Pleasant and well respected by all who know him.
    Thanks for a stroll down memory lane and a chance to boast about PJC Dragon pride!
    Derald Bulls
    Director, Alumni Affairs/Institutional Advancement, Paris (TX) Junior College

  3. You think "Ernie" is the funny name?!? Did you catch the second half of it?

  4. Geat memories!!! I was at that time a great Expos fan attending every home game and listening to all other games on TV or radio.
    I surely remember good old Ernie wearing #21.
    By best memories were:
    1. His very simple motion to the plate keeping his hands below the waist all the time and giving the impression that he will fall on the ground
    2. His loss in the last weekend of the season in 1973 that eliminated officially the Expos from the pennat race with the Mets
    3. His league high 18 wild pitches in his rookie year of 1971
    Ah11 the good old days at Parc Jarry, the funniest years of the Expos!! What an unbeatable atmosphere in this little stadium!!

  5. Ironically, Dave McNally later went on to sign with the Expos and got involved in the beginnings of free agency as an Expo.

  6. I have known Ernie almost all of his life, played against in the Little League baseball, and with on our high school team. I pitched and he played third. That night he called every pitch from 3rd base for me to throw and I struck out 15 Greenville, Texas baseball players on our way to a state tourney.