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'Black Jack' a rock star in Newcomerstown

By ROGER METZGER GateHouse Ohio Media Published: June 28, 2017 12:00 AM
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Jack McDowell felt like a rock star again this past weekend.

McDowell, the 1993 American League Cy Young Award winner, was the featured guest and Grand Marshal of the Cy Young Days Festival luncheon and parade Saturday in Newcomerstown.

"I'm really excited about this," said McDowell in a telephone interview from his home in Charlotte, N.C. "This is a pretty cool thing. We're (my family) made a weekend of it."

McDowell's plans also included an Indians game and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The former star pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Anaheim Angels spoke at the luncheon, signed autographs, answered questions from the attendees and was available for pictures. The event was held at the Laborers Local 134 Hall at the corner of River and Main Streets in Newcomerstown.

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Laborers Local 134 also sponsored the luncheon.

McDowell, who also dabbled as a professional musician with his bands V.I.E.W. and Stickfigure during the offseasons of his playing days, participated in the festival parade.

Nicknamed "Black Jack," McDowell was a three-time All-Star and won the American League Cy Young Award in 1993 as a member of the White Sox with a 22-10 record.

"Everything just went right that season," said McDowell, 51. "It was a great year for me personally and for the White Sox. We had some good young talent on those teams."

The right-hander pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues with a career record of 127-87 and an ERA of 3.85.

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"I wasn't a big-time strikeout pitcher, but I felt I could give a team seven or eight innings every start," said McDowell. "Overall, it was a pretty good career."

McDowell was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round (fifth pick) of the 1987 amateur draft out of Stanford University. After only six games in the minor leagues, he made his Major League debut on Sept. 15, 1987. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins that day to pick up the win. In four starts, he was 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

In 1988, he was 5-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 26 starts for the White Sox.

By the early 1990s, he had established himself as one of the most dependable pitchers in the game, pitching effectively and recording over 250 innings each season from 1991 to 1993. He was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game each of those years. He won 20 games in 1992 and 22 in 1993, when he won the American League Cy Young Award and led the White Sox to the postseason. They lost in the 1993 American League Championship Series to the Toronto Blue Jays, who went on to win the World Series.

From 1988 until 1995, his ERA each season was consistently between three and four, well below the league average. In 1993, he set a modern (post-1950) record by recording a decision in each of his first 27 starts.

After the 1994 season, McDowell was traded to the New York Yankees, where he spent one season in the Big Apple, posting a 15-10 record with a 3.93 ERA in 30 starts.

McDowell spent 1996 1997 with Cleveland Indians. In 1996, he was 13-9 with a 5.11 ERA in 30 starts. But in 1997 he made only six starts due to an injury, which may have been made worse by his trying to pitch through it.

"It was kind of bittersweet," admits McDowell. "It was a great team to play for, but it was the first time I had ever been on the DL (with a strained forearm). The next year is basically when my career ended (with an elbow injury)."

"It was an All-Star team out there everyday with Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton and Manny Ramirez in the outfield, Matt Williams at third, Omar Vizquel at short, Carlos Baerga at second and Jim Thome at first," recalled McDowell.

McDowell joined the pitching staff with Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy and Chad Ogea.

He signed as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels in 1998, but was hampered with injuries during his time with the team. He was 5-7 with a 5.68 ERA in 18 starts over two seasons. He was released by the Angels after the 1999 season and retired from baseball.

On March 2, 2017, Queens University of Charlotte announced that McDowell will be the head coach for its new baseball team. The team will compete in its first season in 2018 as a club sport before entering Division II competition the following season.

"I'm sitting here right now looking at a computer, preparing," McDowell said about his new job. "I can't wait for this thing to get started and get out on the field."

McDowell's band's V.I.E.W. and Stickfigure had moderate success and the latter even opened for The Smithereens, but playing rock and roll professionally went by the wayside.

"When I finished my playing career in 1999, the music business was changing so much I kind of lost my taste for it," said McDowell.

"It took up a lot of time and quite frankly, I don't think I could stay up until 10 o'clock," he joked.

Reach Roger at 330-364-8427 or

roger.metzger@timesreporter.com


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