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Thirty six years ago in 1974 the New York Yankees sent 20 year old lefthanded pitcher Scott McGregor to Syracuse to begin the season in the Chiefs rotation under second year manager Bobby Cox.
The Yankees number one pick in the 1972 June Draft received a reported $80,000 signing bonus and had juast come off a pretty good season the year before in West Haven when he led the Eastern League with 12 wins, 197 innings and a 3.29 ERA.
The 1974 season saw the California native join a veteran staff that included Lowell Palmer, Mike Pazik, Larry Gowell and Rick Sawyer. But is was McGregor who would put up big numbers for manager Bobby Cox that season leading the Chiefs to the finals of the International League Governors Cup only to lose to Rochester in a thrilling seven game series.
McGregor was named I.L. Rookie of the Year, represented the Chiefs in the 1974 I.L. All Star Game and went 13-10 with a 3.44 ERA. What was even more impressive from this 20 year old was that he completed 12 of his 27 starts, struck out 124 batters and tossed 3 shutouts – 2 back to back vs Tidewater and 3 in 4 starts.
Scotty went on to go 2-0 in the I.L. playoffs defeating Rochester 8-1 in game five that put the Chiefs up 3 games to 2. His 9-inning masterpiece was his final appearance that season that totaled over 220 innings.
He pitched for the Chiefs again in 1975 making 21 starts and going 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA before being placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the 1975 season. Without their ace, the Chiefs would lose to Tidewater in the Finals of the Governors Cup Chanpionship for a second consecutive season.
Still only 22 years old and back for his third season with the Chiefs, McGregor now the ace of the staff had help from Rick Sawyer, Ken Clay, and big time prospects Jim Beattie and Doug Heinold before the trade that would change history in the I.L.
On June 12th the New York Yankees in an effort to capture their first Pennant in over a decade traded prize prospects Dave Pagan, Tippy Martinez and Scott McGregor to the Baltimore Orioles for lefthanded veteran pitcher Ken Holtzman.
The Chiefs were in second place 3 1/2 games off the pace ahead of the Rochester Red Wings were McGregor would be sent. With the Chiefs he was only 4-5 with a 3.84 ERA in his first 10 starts, six of which were complete games – his trademark.
But after the deal, McGregor fashioned a remarkable 8-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in 13 starts in the flower city. He also completed eight more games, five of which were shutouts. He 4-hit the Chiefs in Syracuse on July 5th and allowed only 3 hits in a 7-inning shutout a month later on August 25th.
The Red Wings played over .700 baseball the rest of the way (63-26) and despite the Chiefs winning 53 of their next 86 without McGregor, the Red Wings won the Pennant in 1976. The Chiefs finished second and took on the Memphis Blues in round one of the I.L. Playoffs.
The Chiefs swept the Blues 3-0 defeating Floyd Bannister and Mark Lemongello, two future major league pitchers, while the Pennant winning Red Wings were defeated by Richmond 3-1.
The Chiefs would go on to win the 1976 I.L. Governors Cup that season (the last time they won) without McGregor. Ironically, his replacement, left hander John Sielicki went 10-2 including winning the deciding game against the Braves in September.
McGregor would go on to pitch 14 years in the Major Leagues with Baltimore, appearing in two World Series (1979, 1983) and winning 20 games in 1980.
Happy 56th Birthday Scott McGregor.