He could return to a revitalized Baltimore, site of his greatest pitching days, or run an automobile dealership in Montana.
He made the obvious choice.
This is where I knew Id end up all along. I like the climate and it gave me a chance to play a lot of golf, McNally said recently from Billings as in Billings, Montana. Volkswagen with his brother, McNally said hometown ties and a solid business future took precendence over a life among adoring fans.
It took a year or two to adjust, McNally, 43, said. But they were minor adjustments. Id always returned here during my career and most of my family is still here.
McNally, who attended Billings High School, never had a chance to wholesale mlb jerseys play high school ball his school didnt have a team. He made his name on Billings American Legion team, pitching well enough to earn an $80,000 bonus with the Baltimore Orioles jerseys.
I still work the American Legion team up here, he said. I had been doing other speaking work, too, but then everybody wants a piece of you. I limit myself to about eight speaking engagements a year.
In fact, that was one of the reasons McNally made the decision to return to Montana.
Around here, everybody knows me. Im not treated like a celebrity, he said. Most of the people who come looking for an autograph (at the auto dealership) are up from Baltimore.
It is the car, and not my name, that carries the business.
During the 1960s and 70s, it was McNally who helped carry the Orioles jerseys.
After 13 seasons with the Orioles jerseys and one with the Montreal Expos, McNally retired in 1975 with a 184 119 record and career 3.24 earned run average. In his first game, at age 19, he pitched a two hitter against the Kansas City As. He peaked in the late 60s, winning 22, 20, 24, and 21 games from 1968 71.
Playing in the pre designated hitter era, McNally also was a good hitter. He hit nine home runs in his career, including a grand slam off Oaklands Chuck Dobson in 1968. The following year he hit a home run off New York Mets jerseys left hander Jerry Koosman in the World Series. In 1970, he became the only pitcher to hit a World Series grand slam, off Cincinnatis Wayne Granger.
His success finally paid off in 1972, when he became the first American League pitcher to earn $100,000 a season.
McNally was the only player who could consistently bring General Manager Harry Dalton to his knees, former Orioles jerseys manager Earl Weaver once said.
Following the 1974 season, McNally was traded to Montreal in a deal that brought Ken Singleton to the Orioles jerseys. Plagued by shoulder injuries, McNally retired after only 12 starts.
He didnt stay out of the news for long. At the end of the season he and Andy Messersmith challenged baseballs reserve clause. The resulting ruling by arbitrator Peter Seitz opened the door for free agency.
It was just something that had to be done, McNally said. It is hard to believe the money theyre paying, but theyre getting themselves into their own trouble.
Today, McNally is as far away from the trouble as you can be in the continental United States.
Ive gotten away from the game; I dont get to see very much on television, said McNally, married for 24 years to Jean and father of five children ranging from 4 1/2 to 22. I still keep in touch with Andy Etchebarren, Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger, but thats about it.
Billings has a very stable economy, McNally said. Its a good place for a business. We dont hit those high and low peaks. We seem to do all right around here.