Kenneth MacKenzie

Ken MacKenzie, a Rare Winner on the 1962 Mets, Dies at 89

A left-handed reliever, he was the only pitcher with a winning record on a team that set a modern record for losses.

Associated Press, in the New York Times

Ken MacKenzie, a left-handed reliever who was the only pitcher with a winning record on the famously hapless 1962 New York Mets, died on Thursday at his home in Guilford, Conn. He was 89.

His death was announced by the Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz.

The Mets were one of two expansion franchises preparing to join the National League (the other was the Houston Colt 45s, now the Astros) when they acquired McKenzie from the Milwaukee Braves in October 1961. He had a 5-4 record and a 4.95 earned run average in 41 relief appearances and one start in 1962 — the only winning record among 17 pitchers on the Mets, who went 40-120 and set a modern record for defeats. The only team in baseball history with a poorer record was the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who were 20-134.

MacKenzie was 3-1 with a 4.84 E.R.A. in 31 appearances for the Mets in 1963 before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He went on to pitch for the San Francisco Giants and Houston before retiring in 1965.

After his playing career, MacKenzie, a Yale graduate, coached Yale’s baseball team from 1969 to 1978.

After pitching for New York, MacKenzie played for the St.
Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants and the Houston
Colts.Credit: Courtesy of The New York Mets

Kenneth Purvis MacKenzie was born on March 10, 1934, in Gore Bay, Ontario. He was the captain of the Yale baseball team and second-team All-Ivy League in hockey.

“His signing with us,” Mets Manager Casey Stengel joked, “makes him the lowest-paid member of the class of Yale ’56.”

MacKenzie signed with the Braves in September 1956, shortly after graduating from Yale. He made his big-league debut at San Francisco in 1960.

He returned to Yale in 1967 as freshman baseball coach and freshman hockey coach and, two years later, succeeded Ethan Allen as varsity baseball coach.

He was among those who helped recruit the future Mets pitching star Ron Darling to Yale, although he stepped down as coach before Darling’s first college season, in 1979. He worked in Yale’s alumni office until retiring in 1984.

MacKenzie is survived by two sons, Ken and Geoffrey.

The Mets said nine players from the 1962 team are still alive.