Sam McDowell is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It would not take long for the 6’5” lefty to reach the Majors, making his debut less than a week shy of his 19th birthday for the Indians on September 15, 1961. He became one of the top strikeout pitchers of his era and in the game of baseball as a whole, leading the league in strikeouts five times in a six-year span and finishing in second place in that other season.
His debut was a scoreless six and one-third innings, allowing three hits, striking out five, and walking five. His pitching style led to a lot of walks and wild pitches, as he was routinely among the league leaders in both of those occurrences as well.
“Sudden Sam” was an All-Star for the first of six times with the Indians when, at the age of 22 and already in his fifth big league season, he went 17-11 with a league-leading 2.18 ERA and a career-high 325 strikeouts in 1965. He made All-Star teams again in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971.
Following the 1971 season, he was traded across the country to San Francisco. The Giants, in return, sent shortstop Frank Duffy and pitcher Gaylord Perry to Cleveland. While the Indians were acquiring a pitcher several years older in Perry, the move paid off for Cleveland, as McDowell appeared in just 89 more games over the next four seasons with the Giants, the New York Yankees, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was done in the Majors with his release midway through the 1975 season.
Perry was traded away by the Indians just two weeks before McDowell’s release from Pittsburgh, but only after he gave the Indians 134 games pitched, a record of 70-57, and the club’s first Cy Young award.