My First Baseball Phenom

With MLB’s annual draft just completed, and yet another “sure-fire” fireballer picked first, there’s plenty of talk around about previous “sure-fire” phenoms who fizzled.

Which made me think of Von McDaniel, the phenom of ’57. St. Louis signed the kid right out of high school. Von’s older brother Lindy was already on the staff.

Pat Jordan mentioned Von in an excellent article awhile back about Rick Ankiel. You can read it here. The pertinent facts the article discusses, of which I have vague if imperfect recollection: McDaniel went straight to the Bigs, where he won his first four games. In one he gave up but a single hit, in another, just two, and in a third, he had a perfect game going for six innings.

For a 6th grade class project on what the world would be like in ten years, my buddy Larry Cunningham, a major baseball fan, predicted something like Von McDaniel pitches another of many no-hitters. It was not to be.

But, after those first four games, Von McDaniel went 3-5 for the rest of his rookie season, and pitched but two innings the following year, which were his last in the majors. He passed away, a relatively young man, in 1995.

There is a litany of sadly similar tales. So, Scott Boras’ puffery notwithstanding, the jury is still way out on this year’s “sure-fire” phenom, Stephen Strasburg.

– Seedy K

One Comment

  1. Alan Zukof
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Especially appropriate in light of the C-J’s June 17 piece on Matt Anderson, the top pick in the 1997 MLB draft:

    http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090616/SPORTS07/906160358/1002/sports/For+Matt+Anderson++the+fire+hasn+t+all+gone+out

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