This week’s tribute to the 1973 Mets profiles their fifth starter: Jim McAndrew. A mostly unsung contributor on two pennant winning New York squads, McAndrew won 37 games against 53 losses in his seven year major league career, good for a .411 winning percentage. He amassed a career ERA of 3.65 and a 1.199 WHIP in 161 appearances (110 starts). Not a strikeout artist, he fanned 424 and walked 213 in 771.1 innings.
James Clement Andrew of Lost Nation, Iowa was drafted by the New York Mets in the 11th round of the 1965 draft. He began his major league career in the summer of 1968, losing a tough debut decision to eventual MVP Bob Gibson and the two-time National League champion St. Louis Cardinals. But he fully took advantage of the Year of the Pitcher, finishing the season with a 2.28 ERA and getting his revenge on the Cards a month later. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were the clear aces of the 1969 staff, and McAndrew was overshadowed by Gary Gentry and Don Cardwell when it came to the rest of the rotation, but he provided a steady hand in 21 starts during the Miracle season. His best season as a starter came in 1972 when he went 11-8 with an ERA of 2.80, better than Seaver’s and second to only Jon Matlack in the rotation.
By 1973, however, McAndrew’s major-league goose was cooked. His first two starts were shellings at the hands of Philadelphia and Chicago. He righted the ship in his next two starts and midway through May had a record of 3-3, but he would never regain the form he had during his career season of ’72. McAndrew split time in the Seaver-Koosman-Matlack-George Stone rotation with Ray Sadecki and finished ’73 at 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 23 appearances (12 starts). He never got into the postseason during the Mets’ second pennant run, and in the offseason he was traded to the San Diego Padres for minor league mainstay Steve Simpson. After making five starts and 15 appearances for the Friars in 1974, he was released on June 1. After making six sub-par starts for the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Des Moines, three hours west of his hometown, Jim McAndrew was out of baseball at the age of 30.
While McAndrew did nothing of particular note after his baseball career ended, his son Jamie McAndrew toiled in the minor leagues for the better part of the 1990s, making 15 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1995 and 1997 that were the pinnacle of a career undone by injury.
While he will never be a Mets Hall of Famer, McAndrew played a noteworthy role on two pennant winners in 1969 and 1973. While his ’73 numbers weren’t impressive, one must remember that in a division race so tight, even one extra loss could have derailed the Amazin’s. Jim McAndrew won three of those 82 games and saved another. And for that, the “Pride of Lost Nation” earns a Rising Apple tip of the cap.