Jim McAndrew, who lost his major league debut to Bob Gibson in a 1968 spot start for the New York Mets when Nolan Ryan was called away to military duty then beat Steve Carlton a month later for his first win, has died. He was 80.

McAndrew died Thursday at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center in Arizona after a brief illness, Mets spokesperson Jay Horwitz said Friday.

A right-hander at the back end of the Mets rotation from 1968 to 1973, McAndrew started one of the most significant games in franchise history: a win over Montreal in September 1969 that put the long downtrodden team into first place for the first time in New York’s eight seasons.

Pitching for the Mets during a seven-year major league career, McAndrew didn’t appear in the postseason for the 1969 World Series champions or 1973 National League pennant winners.

Mets World Series winner Jim McAndrew dies aged 80, cause of death unknown


He was 36-49 with four saves and a 3.65 ERA for the Mets in 105 starts and 41 relief appearances then was traded to San Diego and went 1-4 with a 5.62 ERA in two starts and 13 relief appearances. That left his final big league record 37-53 with a 3.65 ERA.

McAndrew made his major league debut in a doubleheader opener at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 21, 1968, when Ryan — a future Hall of Famer — was fulfilling his duty as a member of the Army reserve. McAndrew’s first batter was future Hall of Famer Lou Brock, who singled, and McAndrew pitched around Roger Maris’ leadoff double in the fourth.

The game was scoreless when Bobby Tolan led off the sixth with a drive against the wall that landed between center fielder Cleon Jones and right fielder Larry Stahl. Tolan raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. That was the only run off McAndrew in a 2-0 loss as Gibson pitched a seven-hitter to win his 10th straight start and get his seventh shutout in a span of nine starts.

Jim McAndrew, former New York Mets pitcher, dies at 80 - ESPN


With Ryan due to rejoin the team the next day, McAndrew was sent back to Triple-A Jacksonville. McAndrew was taken out after five perfect innings in his next start and rejoined the Mets when Ryan again reported for Army duty.

New York didn’t score a run while McAndrew was on the mound as he lost his first four big league starts, and he dropped to 0-5 with a 13-3 loss to San Francisco and future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal.

McAndrew finally got his first win on Aug. 26 at St. Louis, pitching a five-hit shutout to beat Carlton, yet another future Hall of Famer, 1-0 with the help of Jones’ eighth-inning sacrifice fly that followed Tommie Agee’s leadoff single.

On the mound against Montreal at Shea Stadium on Sept. 10, 1969, McAndrew pitched 11 innings without a decision in a 3-2 win that ended with Ken Boswell’s 12th-inning single. New York was ahead 6-1 after three innings in the second game when the Chicago Cubs finished a loss at Philadelphia, moving the Mets into first place for the very first time in eight major league seasons. What became known as the Miracle Mets went on to beat Baltimore in the World Series.

Jim McAndrew, who pitched for the 1969 and 1973 New York Mets, dies at 80

McAndrew was born in Lost Nation, Iowa, on Jan. 11, 1944. He played baseball and basketball at the University of Iowa but stopped basketball after a knee injury during his sophomore season.

He missed his junior season because of an arm injury then returned for his senior season and was selected by the Mets in the 11th round of the first amateur draft in 1965 — one round before New York selected Ryan.

McAndrew pitched at rookie level Marion, Virginia, and Class A Auburn, New York, that summer, went to the Florida Instructional League and completed his psychology degree at Iowa during the offseason. He returned to Auburn in 1966 and reached Double-A Williamsport in 1967 and Triple-A with Jacksonville in 1968.

After his baseball career, McAndrew worked in coal industry sales and management.

He is survived by wife Lyn, daughter Jana and sons Jamie, Jeff and Jon.

Jamie, also a right-handed pitcher, was the 28th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers and went 3-4 with a 5.98 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1995 and 1997.