RIP to Billy MacLeod, a pitcher who had two appearances with the Boston Red Sox in 1962. He died on December 12, 2018 at the age of 76.
MacLeod was born in Gloucester, Mass. on May 13, 1942. A graduate of Gloucester High School and a lifelong Red Sox fan, he was signed by the Sox prior to the 1961 season for $60,000. His first pro season in 1961 with the Winston-Salem Red Sox was excellent; he went 15-8 with a 2.31 ERA, completing 15 of his 26 starts. He struck out 208 batters in 206-1/3 innings, leading the Carolina League in K’s. He also hit 30 batters. His curveball apparently had too much movement sometimes. He recalled that he once struck out a batter swinging on a pitch that hit him in the stomach.
MacLeod made a good impression in Spring Training. He was part of a group of talented “bonus baby” pitchers. As a 6’2″, 180 pounds and not even 20 years old, the sidearming southpaw reminded columnist Bob Feller (yes, that Bob Feller) of a young Elon “Chief” Hogsett, a 1930s pitcher for the Tigers who won 10+ games three times in his career.
“I never thought I threw differently from anyone else. Not until I got to Winston-Salem last year, that is,” he said in an interview with The Boston Globe on December 24, 1961. “But it’s my usual style yet some guys said it looked as if I was throwing the ball out of my sleeve.”
MacLeod started the 1962 season with the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. He didn’t have an exceptional year (8-6 record, 4.64 ERA, 80 walks and 74 strikeouts), but the Red Sox brought him up in September regardless. He made his major-league debut on September 13 in a 14-6 blowout loss to the Tigers, and he got the only batter he faced, Bill Bruton, to ground out to shortstop. His second and last MLB game came against the Senators on Sept. 22. He threw 1-1/3 innings and struck out two batters, but he picked up the loss when Bud Zipfel hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 12th inning.
MacLeod returned to the minor leagues and pitched there until 1967. Despite the fact that he had some excellent seasons, including a perfect 18-0 campaign for the Pittsfield in 1965, he seemed to fade out of the Red Sox’ plans. He left baseball after 1967 due to injuries with a 62-39 record in the minors with a 3.57 ERA. He struck out 752 batters, walked 457 and hit 103.
MacLeod lived with his wife to Marblehead, Mass., where they lived for the final 35 years of his life. They had 6 children and 8 grandchildren. Attendees to his funeral on December 18 were encouraged to wear Red Sox apparel. That’s my kind of funeral.