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Former Royals, Cardinals reliever Mark Littell dies at 69

Apr 15, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; A cap rests on the dug out wall with the number 42 on the hat in honor of Major League Baseball   s Jackie Robinson Day. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Former major league reliever Mark Littell, who once won both games of a doubleheader for the St. Louis Cardinals, died at age 69.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Littell died Monday in the city following complications from heart surgery.

A Missouri native, Littell spent his entire career pitching in the state. He made his major league debut at age 20 in 1973 with the Kansas City Royals and stayed with the team through the 1977 season. In December of that year, he was traded with catcher Buck Martinez to the Cardinals for reliever Al Hrabosky.

Littell retired during the 1982 season at age 29 because of bone chips in his elbow. That team went on to win the World Series without him on the roster.

Still, the Post-Dispatch said Littell, who lived in North Dakota, took part in festivities honoring that club a few weeks ago.

Little finished 32-31 with a 3.32 ERA and 56 saves in 316 games (19 starts).

Littell’s best season came with the Royals in 1976, when he finished 8-4 with a 2.08 ERA and 16 saves in 60 games.

It was that season that he gave up a series-ending walk-off home run to the New York Yankees’ Chris Chambliss in the American League Championship Series, denying the Royals their first World Series berth.

And with the Cardinals on Aug. 10, 1981, he surrendered Pete Rose’s 3,631st career hit that broke Stan Musial’s National League record.

With the Cardinals, Littell still holds the record for most strikeouts in a season by a reliever with 130, set in 1978.

After his retirement, Littell coached in the minor leagues. He also was the author of three books, including “On the 8th Day, God Made Baseball.”

–Field Level Media