Many fans will remember him as “Black Jack” McDowell.
The name was given to him by legendary broadcaster Hawk Harrellson, who gave him the name for an intense, cowboy-like stare he gave an opposing batter.
However, it was a short period of success for McDowell as he was only in the league for 12 years.
While much of this a string of successful years in Chicago, he quickly went downhill when he left the Windy City.
Eventually, he was out of the game by his age 33 season, as he struggled mightily in his last few years in the MLB.
A Mediocre Career
While McDowell was never the most dominant arm in the league, he had some solid and dependable years in the big leagues.
He started his career in 1987, starting in four games as a rookie.
Over this stretch, he went 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
While he had decent 1988 and 1990 seasons, with an injury riddled 1989 in the middle, it wasn’t until 1991 that he truly broke onto the scene.
Random early 90s at bat (Jack McDowell vs Robin Yount in 1990 during the original throwback day). pic.twitter.com/NgDOnqD72f
— Stirrups Now! (@uniformcritic) October 15, 2020
In that season, he went 17-10 with a 3.41 ERA.
However, this wasn’t his most notable statistic as he developed himself into an “innings-eater.”
He led the MLB in complete games with 15, tossing 253.2 innings on his way to an All-Star appearance.
In 1992, he went 20-10 with a solid 3.18 ERA in 260.2 innings.
This was good enough to make him a runner-up in the Cy Young Award voting.
He followed his stellar 1992 with an even better year the next season, going 22-10 with a 3.37 ERA.
His 22 wins led the MLB and earned him the Cy Young Award over counterpart Randy Johnson.
Jack McDowell turns 52 today.
He could be the last pitcher ever to have 10+ Complete Games in 3 consecutive seasons (1991-93) pic.twitter.com/4BBbBxnkQJ
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) January 16, 2018
However, this would be the climax of his career as he would start to trend downward after this.
The McDowell Drop Off
While he had a couple good seasons in 1994 and 1995, they were a clear step back from his performances in years prior.
He was traded by the White Sox to the New York Yankees before the 1995 season.
Here, he was part of a competitive Yankees team that made their first playoff appearance in over a decade.
However, he lost two games in the ALDS and had a 9.00 ERA.
Because of this, his legacy in New York has really been reduced to the moment when he flipped off Yankees fans as they booed him off the mound.
After this season, McDowell’s career really took a sharp turn off a cliff.
Injury Bug Bites McDowell
A lot of this was due to injuries, as it seemed like he could never escape the injured list.
From 1996-1998 he posted ERAs above 5 each season.
Injuries derailed each of those years though, limiting the amount of innings McDowell was able to pitch.
Finally, in his last season in the MLB, he went 0-4 with an 8.05 ERA in just 19.0 innings.
Once again, he couldn’t escape the injuries that started plaguing him over the last few seasons of his career.
Happy Birthday to rock star Cy Young winner Jack McDowell. He was a super star at Stanford when we first moved to Palo Alto. His peak with the White Sox was tremendous, posting double digit complete games for 3 straight seasons. Injuries derailed one of the coolest careers ever. pic.twitter.com/za5DEJcqSs
— Sully Baseball (@sullybaseball) January 16, 2019
It was an unfortunate ending for a pitcher who had a string of successful seasons in the early part of his career.
By the end of his career, he went 127-87 with a 3.85 ERA.
This is a solid stat line for a pitcher who threw during an era of budding offense.
The injury bug eventually caught up to him, however, and it hit him hard.
Because of this, his career was ultimately derailed.
He was forced out of the league at a relatively young age.
Regardless, he carries the legacy of one of the league’s best pitchers of the early 1990s with a Cy Young Award to prove it.
Nowadays, he remains a part of the sport as a coach at different levels.