Don McMahon

Don McMahon
Born: (1930-01-04)January 4, 1930
Brooklyn, New York
Died: July 22, 1987(1987-07-22) (aged 57)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 30, 1957, for the Milwaukee Braves
Last MLB appearance
June 29, 1974, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 90–68
Earned run average 2.96
Strikeouts 1,003
Saves 152
Career highlights and awards

Donald John McMahon (January 4, 1930 – July 22, 1987) was a right-handed relief pitcher in Major League Baseball. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was signed by the Boston Braves before the 1950 season. He played for the Milwaukee Braves (1957–62), Houston Colt .45s (1962–63), Cleveland Indians (1964–66), Boston Red Sox (1966–67), Chicago White Sox (1967–68), Detroit Tigers (1968–69), and San Francisco Giants (1969–74).

McMahon was used almost exclusively in relief during his 18-year MLB career. He appeared in 874 games, just two as a starter, and was one of the major leagues' busiest and most dependable relievers during his era. He never once spent time on the disabled list, and in the fifteen full seasons that he played (1958–72), he averaged about 54 games and 81 innings pitched per year.


He reached the big leagues at the advanced age of 27 after playing minor league ball for about 5½ years and also spending two years in the military (May 30, 1951 – May 17, 1953). He appeared in his final game on June 29, 1974, nearly 17 years after his major league debut.

McMahon was a valuable part of two World Championship clubs—the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the 1968 Detroit Tigers. He posted a 1.54 ERA with 9 saves in 32 games for the 1957 Braves, and a 2.02 ERA with a 3–1 record in 20 games for the 1968 Tigers after a mid-season trade from the White Sox. All together he pitched in three World Series and one National League Championship Series.

He finished in the American League or National League top ten seven times for games pitched, seven times for saves, eight times for games finished, and once each for wild pitches, hit batsmen, and winning percentage.

He recorded his 1000th strikeout at the age of 44 on May 27, 1974 on All-Star shortstop Don Kessinger of the Chicago Cubs. A little more than a month later, when McMahon retired, only Hoyt Wilhelm, Lindy McDaniel, and Cy Young had pitched in more games.

For his career he finished with a lifetime record of 90–68, 153 saves, 506 games finished, and an earned run average of 2.96. As of the conclusion of the 2006 season, McMahon ranked 17th all-time for fewest hits allowed per 9 innings pitched (7.24).

Other career highlights include:

In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter", consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Because of space limitations the Irish team, including McMahon as relief pitcher, was omitted.


McMahon served as Giants pitching coach from 1972 to 1975, and also from 1980 to 1982. He was activated by San Francisco for parts of the 1972, 1973, and 1974 seasons when the Giants needed his experienced and effective arm to help out in the bullpen. (Relievers Elías Sosa and Randy Moffitt were shouldering most of the load, and were not getting enough help from the others.) He also was the pitching coach of the Minnesota Twins from 1976 to 1977 and the Cleveland Indians from 1983 to 1985. In 1986, after a recommendation from friend and fellow high school classmate Al Davis, he was hired as a scout for the LA Dodgers.[1][2]


In 1987, he was working as an instructional coach and scout with the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched batting practice before most home games. On July 22, he was pitching batting practice when he suffered a heart attack, having undergone heart bypass surgery about three and a half years prior. McMahon died within hours.[3] He was buried at the Good Shepherd Cemetery in Huntington Beach, California,[4] with a baseball in his hand.[5] Don had several children with his wife Darlene including his son Mike McMahon. At the time of Mr. McMahon's passing the family lived in Garden Grove, California.

See also


  1. McMANIS, Sam (July 23, 1987). "Don McMahon Dies of Heart Attack : Dodger Scout, 57, Is Stricken While Pitching Batting Practice". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. BERKOW, IRA (August 1, 1987). "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; HE DIED WITH SPIKES ON". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  3. BERKOW, IRA (August 1, 1987). "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; HE DIED WITH SPIKES ON". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  4. "Don McMahon (1930 - 1987) - Find A Grave Memorial". Find a Grave.
  5. Eric Moskowitz (April 6, 2017). "The Summer That Changed Boston". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 6, 2017. (Registration required (help)).
Preceded by
Larry Jansen
Larry Shepard
San Francisco Giants pitching coach
Succeeded by
Buck Rodgers
Herm Starrette
Preceded by
Lee Stange
Minnesota Twins pitching coach
Succeeded by
Camilo Pascual
Preceded by
Chuck Estrada
Cleveland Indians pitching coach
Succeeded by
Jack Aker
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