Former big league veteran Al McBean passed away earlier this week at age 85. McBean holds a distinction as the first pitcher (and one of just 15 players ever) from the Virgin Islands to play in Major League Baseball, making some history when made his debut in 1961.
Most of McBean’s career was spent with the Pirates, including his first eight seasons and then a brief return in 1970 for what ended up being his final seven MLB games. (In between those two stints in Pittsburgh, McBean pitched for the Padres and Dodgers.) Pitching mostly as a reliever in his rookie season and then mostly as a starter in 1962, McBean then primarily worked out of the bullpen for most of his career, apart from a return to the Pirates rotation late in the 1967 season and for much of 1968.
McBean posted a 3.13 ERA and 63 saves over 409 games and 1072 1/3 career innings. The 63 saves are a retroactive statistic given how saves weren’t officially recognized since 1969, and the idea of a true closer was still something of a rarity in the 1960’s. However, the Pirates enjoyed great success with longtime relief ace Roy Face anchoring the bullpen, and McBean teamed with Face as a one-two punch for high leverage work. McBean was named Reliever Of The Year by the Sporting News in 1964 for an outstanding season of 1.91 ERA ball and 21 saves over 89 2/3 innings and 58 appearances.
We at MLB Trade Rumors give our condolences to McBean’s family and friends.