Don McMahon may not be a household name, but he was a pretty good baseball relief pitcher for almost two decades. He actually pitched in Major League Baseball until he was 44 years old! McMahon would spent parts of two of 18 seasons in MLB with the Red Sox, and pitch fairly well in the process.
Back in 1966, the Red Sox traded once all-star reliever Dick Radatz for McMahon. As it turned out, Radatz was washed up and was out of baseball a couple years later. McMahon was very good for the rest of 1966 with the Red Sox, pitching to a 2.65 ERA over 78 innings in 49 games. That performance was good for a 1.7 WAR.
Unfortunately, McMahon wasn’t stellar for the Red Sox in 1967, essentially being replacement level, pitching to a respectable 3.57 ERA over just 17 and two-thirds innings. In that year, the team that would end up being the “Impossible Dream Team” traded McMahon and minor leaguer Rob Snow for infielder Jerry Adair. To the Sox’s credit, they got a lot of value out of Adair, although the infielder would be dreadful in 1968.
Meanwhile, after being traded to the White Sox, McMahon pitched very well for the rest of 1967 and 1968 for the White Sox. In July of 1968, he’d be traded to the Tigers, where he was adequate. In the middle of 1969 he was traded once again to the San Francisco Giants. He pitched several more seasons for the Giants, including one of his best years in 1970 at age 40. McMahon would still have several seasons would pitch in the city by the bay until 1974, although he was never quite that good again.
Overall, the trade for Don McMahon was a pretty good trade for the Red Sox. While McMahon might not be remembered much today, he was definitely an above-average relief pitcher for a very long time. McMahon amassed 22.5 WAR over his career. Not only was he good for the Red Sox for a bit, but he again contributed by acquiring a very useful infielder for the 1967 team. Sadly, McMahon passed away in 1987 at the age of 57.
Here’s to what was a great, underrated pitching career!