When Von McDaniel joined his brother, Lindy, on the 1957 Cardinals staff and began shutting down opponents, comparisons were made to another sibling pitching duo in St. Louis lore, Dizzy and Paul Dean.
For a while during that summer of 1957, Von McDaniel, 18, created as much excitement among Cardinals fans as the Dean brothers did in 1934 when they combined for 49 regular-season wins in pitching St. Louis to a National League pennant.
Von McDaniel opened his Cardinals career by pitching 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings over four appearances.
Fifty-nine years later, another rookie right-hander, Alex Reyes, opened his Cardinals career by pitching 14 consecutive scoreless innings over six appearances.
Von McDaniel in 1957 and Pat Perry (16.1 innings in 1985-86) are the only Cardinals rookies to begin their big-league careers with longer scoreless innings streaks than Reyes.
In 2016, Reyes pitched 9.1 scoreless innings over five relief appearances, then 4.2 scoreless innings in his first start.
In 1957, Von McDaniel pitched 8 scoreless innings over two relief appearances, then 11.2 scoreless innings over two starts.
Von McDaniel received a $50,000 bonus when he signed with the Cardinals on May 27, 1957, after graduating from Hollis High School in Oklahoma. He was placed on the Cardinals’ active roster, joining Lindy, who had received the same bonus amount when he signed with the Cardinals in September 1955 at age 19.
Lindy McDaniel made his Cardinals debut on Sept. 2, 1955. He was used primarily in relief by them in 1956, posting a 7-6 record, and joined their starting rotation in 1957.
When Von McDaniel joined the Cardinals in May 1957, scout Fred Hawn, who had signed both McDaniel brothers, told The Sporting News, “Von throws harder than Lindy.”
Fred Hutchinson, the Cardinals manager, was in no hurry to use Von. “I’ll let him get acquainted, get the feel of things and then let him mop up (in a game),” Hutchinson said.
Von was the definition of a greenhorn. Four days after he signed with the Cardinals, Von took his first train ride when the club traveled from St. Louis to Milwaukee.
Von was inactive during his first two weeks with the Cardinals. Then, on June 13, at Philadephia, the Phillies led, 8-1, through four innings when Hutchinson decided the time was right for Von to make his debut.
Hal Smith, the Cardinals’ catcher, met Von at the mound and, attempting to keep things simple, told the rookie he would signal 1 for a fastball, 2 for a curve and 3 for a changeup. As Smith turned to go back behind the plate, Von said, “And No. 4 for my slider.”
Von pitched four scoreless innings, yielding only a single to Granny Hamner and striking out four. He retired the last 10 consecutive batters. Boxscore
Three days later, on June 16, the Cardinals were in Brooklyn to face the defending NL champion Dodgers in a doubleheader. In Game 1, the Dodgers led, 6-2, through five when Hutchinson put in Von.
Again, the rookie pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two baserunners _ Elmer Valo doubled and Charlie Neal was hit by a pitch _ and striking out five. When the Cardinals rallied for a 7-6 victory, McDaniel had his first big-league win. Boxscore
Said Dodgers slugger Duke Snider, who struck out and grounded out versus Von: “He’s real good. Got a fine curveball and exceptional control.”
Five days later, on June 21, Hutchinson pulled a surprise, announcing Von would start that night in St. Louis against the Dodgers. Earlier, Hutchinson had said Willard Schmidt would get the start. The manager later admitted he used Schmidt as a decoy so that Von wouldn’t lose sleep in anticipation of his first start.
Pitching before a Friday night crowd of 27,972, Von held the Dodgers hitless through the first five innings.
In the sixth, with the score at 0-0, the Dodgers loaded the bases with none out on two singles and an error. The catcher, Smith, went to the mound and told Von, “If the ball is hit to you, don’t forget to throw it to me.”
Nonplussed, Von patted the veteran on the shoulder and said, “OK, Smitty, and don’t worry.”
The batter, Valo, hit a comebacker to Von. He threw to Smith, whose relay to first baseman Stan Musial completed the double play. When Gino Cimoli followed by grounding out to Von, the rookie left the mound to a standing ovation from the energized crowd.
The Cardinals triumphed, 2-0, and Von got a complete-game shutout. He limited the Dodgers to two hits and three walks, striking out four. Boxscore
“He’s either the greatest in the league, or we’re the worst hitters,” Dodgers manager Walter Alston said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In The Sporting News, Bob Broeg wrote, “The sensational arrival of Von McDaniel to give the Cardinals a red-hot brother pitching act has created the most excitement in St. Louis since Paul Dean joined brother Dizzy to help pitch the Gashouse Gang to the 1934 pennant.”
The next day, June 22, Dizzy Dean met the McDaniel brothers at the Cardinals’ ballpark. “You fellows are going to go a long way,” Dean told them. “Some day you’ll win 49 games (in a season) like me and Paul.”
Von got his second start on June 27 against the Phillies at St. Louis. He didn’t allow a run in the first two innings, extending his scoreless streak to 19.
In the third, after retiring the first two batters, Von gave up a single to Hamner and a run-scoring double to Ed Bouchee.
Though Von gave up four runs in 7.1 innings, he got the win as the Cardinals prevailed, 6-4. Hoyt Wilhelm, the future Hall of Famer, earned the save with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Boxscore
Through his first five appearances for the Cardinals, Von posted a 4-0 record and 1.71 ERA. He finished the 1957 season at 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 17 games, including 13 starts.
After the season, Von got out of shape. When he reported to spring training in 1958, he had lost command of his pitches.
Von appeared in two games for the 1958 Cardinals and was sent back to the minor leagues. He soon gave up on pitching and became a third baseman, playing in the minors until 1966 but never returning to the major leagues.