Cardwell, former major league pitcher, dies at 72
January 14, 2008
Don Cardwell, a former major league pitcher and a Winston-Salem native, died this morning. He was 72.
Friends of Cardwell said that he had been struggling with his health of late.
"We need more Don Cardwells in the world," said Junie Michael, who owns Parkway Ford and worked alongside Cardwell for more than 35 years. "I just can't say enough about what a positive influence he was on our community."
Cardwell, a right-handed pitcher, played for five different teams including the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.
Michael said Cardwell wore that championship ring proudly, but wasn't one to brag about his accomplishments in baseball.
"You had to drag the stories out of him because he just wasn't that way," Michael said.
Michael said that Cardwell retired from Parkway Ford, where he was a top salesman, last spring. Michael said that one of the reasons Cardwell retired was because he was having some health issues.
"One thing I'll always remember about Don was the time he had for children when they asked him about baseball," Michael said. "He loved talking to young kids about the game and that's when you could see his eyes light up."
Cardwell began his career in 1954 when he signed a contract with the Phillies at age 18. He made his Major League debut in 1957 and was a spot starter for three seasons going 16-24 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in May of 1960.
One of Cardwell's career highlights came two days after he was traded to the Cubs when he pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Cardwell's best season with the Cubs came in 1961 when he won 15 games and had a career-best 156 strikeouts. In 1962 he was traded to the Cardinals but a month later, without ever pitching for the Cardinals, he was traded to the Pirates.
He spent 1963 and 1964 with the Pirates before he was traded to the Mets in December of 1966. In 1969 he was 8-10 in a rotation that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Kossman and Gary Gentry as the 'Miracle Mets' won the World Series.
For his career, Cardwell was 102-138 and had 1,211 strikeouts.
After his stint with the Mets he was traded to the Braves where he retired from baseball in 1970.
Cardwell was also an outstanding golfer, playing on a celebrity tour for a time in the 1980s, according to Michael.
Ron Morgan and FrEddie Einstein played golf with Cardwell through the years.
"I know he had his handicap down into the single digits," Einstein said. "He could hit the ball farther than just about anybody I ever saw."
Cardwell played most of his golf at Tanglewood Park and was also a member at Bermuda Run for several years.
"Don was just a down-to-earth guy and he was a nice guy," Morgan said. "You would never even know that he was some sort of celebrity with his career in the major leagues."
Cardwell is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and three children - daughter Sari Cardwell Glass of Highlands Ranch, Colo. and sons, Gary, of Lewisville and, Brent, of Lexington and five grandchildren.
After a private family service at Salem Moravian Graveyard, a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Konnoak Hills Moravian Church. A reception will follow the service.