I first became aware of Don Cardwell when he pitched for the Mets in the late ’60s. As a member of the New York rotation that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Gary Gentry, Cardwell helped pitch the Mets to the 1969 World Championship and helped consign the ’69 Cubs to laughingstock status for time immemorial.
Though Cardwell was only 8-10 that season and nowhere near the star that fellow hurlers Seaver and Koosman were, I hated him and Jerry Grote and Cleon Jones and Cal Koonce and Ed Kranepool and every other member of that Mets team with equal passion.
Eventually I became aware that Cardwell had once been a Cub, pitching a no-hitter in his Chicago debut in 1960, right after the Cubs had acquired him in trade from the Phillies. The WGN-TV tape of the final out in that game—a shoestring catch by Cub leftfielder Moose Moryn—is a classic. I bet I’ve seen it at least 50 times in my life.
Cardwell died Monday morning in North Carolina after prolonged illness. He was 72, and of Cardwell a longtime co-worker said, “I’ve never met a better guy in my whole life.”
I forgive him for ’69.