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Passings / Tommy Byrne

Yankees pitcher called 'Wild Man'

December 23, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Tommy Byrne, 87, a longtime New York Yankees pitcher who was nicknamed "Wild Man" for his hard-thrown pitches and struggles with control, died Thursday of congestive heart failure in Wake Forest, N.C., said his son John.

Byrne joined the New York club in 1943 and pitched in four World Series during his two stints with the Yankees.

In 1955, the left-hander had his best season, winning a career-high 16 games. The same year he was named the American League's comeback player of the year.

His problems with control meant that he led the league several times in hit batters and walks.

But Byrne was a rare pitcher who could hit, and Yankees manager Casey Stengel often used him to pinch-hit.

In 13 seasons in the major leagues, Byrne also played with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and Washington Senators.

The Baltimore-born Byrne earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from what was then Wake Forest College in North Carolina and returned to the area after retiring from the Yankees and baseball in 1957.

He opened the Wake Forest Golf Club in 1965 and served two terms as Wake Forest mayor.

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