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“AROUND THE HORN”: Miller and MacFayden are Hall of Fame Bookends

11/12/2012 7:54 PM

Article By: John Garner Jr.

     Separated by 80 years, Danny “Deacon” MacFayden and southpaw Andrew Miller serve as bookends to a memorable 2012 Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Induction Class.

      Both were dominating pitchers who used the CCBL as springboards to the major leagues, less than a year after throwing their final games on the Cape. They were inducted along with six other former players and coaches in a ceremony last Saturday at Chatham Bars Inn.

      The Truro, Mass-born and Somerville-bred MacFayden posted a 9-2 record leading Osterville to the 1924 CCBL title and tossed a one-hitter against Hyannis the following summer for Falmouth.He played on a powerhouse Somerville team that also boasted future major leaguers Josh Billings and Shanty Hogan, who both played with MacFayden in Osterville before being signed by Detroit and the Giants respectively. The 21-year-old Deacon, whose best pitch was a side-arm curve-ball, was signed by the Red Sox and made his major league debut August 25, 1926 and after two relief appearances, started against the great Walter Johnson (409 wins, 112 shutouts), where the Big Train won a 5-1 win over Deacon, who also hurled a complete-game.

      The left-handed Miller pitched for the Chatham A’s in 2004 and ’05, compiling a perfect 8-0 record and ERA’s of 2.03 and 1.65, and was named the league’s top pro prospect and co-pitcher in ’05. The 6’7” Miller was drafted sixth overall by the Detroit Tigers and found himself starting the following summer in the big leagues in the “House that Ruth Built,” Yankee Stadium. After a couple years in the Tigers’ rotation, Miller signed with the Red Sox and posted a 6-3 record in 2011 and last season was one of the top relief pitchers in an otherwise forgettable season in Boston, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.35 ERA, striking out 51 batters in 40.1 IP.

      MacFayden spent six-plus seasons with the Red Sox, leading the AL with four shutouts in 1929 and posting a 16-12 record in 1931 before being traded to the Yankees on June 5, 1932 for two players and $50,000, an incredible sum during the height of the depression. It was great timing for Danny as he joined a talent-laden Yankees’ team (107-47) featuring Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Earl Combs, Red Ruffing, Herb Pennock and Lefty Gomez. NY swept the Cubs in the World Series when Ruth “called his shot” against Charlie Root and MacFayden was 7-5 with a 3.93 ERA. After playing for the Reds for a couple months, MacFayden was traded to the Boston B’s in 1935 and later that season tied Dazzy Vance’s NL record with 15 strikeouts against the NY Giants. On June 11, 1938, Danny became part of baseball lore pitching eight innings against Johnny Vander Meer of the Reds, who hurled his first of two consecutive no-hitters. After playing for two more teams in the early 1940’s, MacFayden became baseball and hockey coach at Hebron (ME) Academy. “I remember Coach Danny (Deacon) MacFayden from my Hebron Academy days very well. He was the baseball and ice hockey coach during 1942-1943,” said Carlton A.K. McDonald. “He was an outstanding coach in every respect and was interested in the well-being of all of his players. He was my baseball coach and he even threw batting practice for bunting practice in the indoor facility. He was instrumental in getting one or two of his baseball players with tryouts in either Red Sox or Braves farm teams. He’s most deserving to be in the Cape Cod League Baseball Hall of Fame. During the war years when teams were desperate for talent, MacFayden returned to the Braves for a final go-round, posting a 2-1 record with a 5.91 ERA in 1943. After teaching at Vermont Academy, he became varsity baseball and ice hockey coach at Bowdoin from 1946-70, where he enjoyed his most successful season (14-4) with pitcher Bob Butkus, a future CCBL Hall of Famer.

     A native of Gainsville, Fla., the fire-balling Miller set single season (133) and career (325) strikeout records at North Carolina and is third all-time for the Tar Heels in wins (27). He was named Baseball America National Player of the Year and won the Roger Clemons Award as the nation’s top collegiate pitcher. After his 6-0 summer with Chatham in ’05, he was named the College Summer Player of the Year and rated No. 1 prospect in the Cape League by Baseball America. He’s expected to pair again with fellow Chatham alum Rich Hill and Craig Breslow to form one of the top left-handed bullpens in baseball