MLB deaths: The 2018 All-Eternal Team

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 26: A general view of the Willie McCovey statue ahead of a game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 26: A general view of the Willie McCovey statue ahead of a game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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MLB deaths
San Francisco Giants Billy O’Dell (aka Digger O’Dell) in 1963. (Photo by Bob Kurt/Sporting News via Getty Images) /

LHP) Billy O’Dell, 1954-1967, Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates

Billy O’Dell was a 21-year-old “bonus baby” when brought to the majors by Baltimore in 1954. But the true start of his career was delayed by military service. Appearing in just 11 games through 1956 due to his military obligation, O’Dell’s true career began when he returned to the Orioles in 1957, going 4-10 in 35 games.

Nicknamed “Digger” after a popular radio character of the same name, O’Dell usually filled a combination role as starter/reliever. Five times he started 24 or more games – making 39 starts with the Giants in 1962 – but he also topped 20 relief appearances several times. His 1960 season was typical in that respect: 24 starts, 19 relief appearances, an 8-13 record, six complete games and two saves.

After 1963, O’Dell was essentially consigned to relief duty.

O’Dell’s best season was probably 1962 when he made those 39 starts for a pennant-winning team. He went 19-14 that year with a 3.53 ERA in 180.2 innings. In his only post-season action, he made one start and two relief appearances against the Yankees, compiling a 4.38 ERA over 12 innings. That start came in Game 1, a 6-2 loss to Whitey Ford in which O’Dell allowed five runs in 7.1 innings.

Traded from Baltimore to San Francisco following the 1959 season, then to the Braves early in 1965, he finished his career with Pittsburgh in 1967, then retired to the life of a gentleman farmer. He died Sept. 12 at age 85 of the effects of Parkinson’s Disease.