Clay Carroll was nicknamed The Hawk. He was a long time relief pitcher for five teams from 1964-to 78 but is mainly remembered for his tenure with his first team the Milwaukee/ Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched mostly for National League teams. He pitched in 731 games in his career and all were in relief except for 28 starts. Carroll was a pretty good relief pitcher. He led the league in saves in 1972 for the NL Champion Cincinnati Reds when he had 37 saves. At the time 37 saves was a Major League record. He made two All-Star teams in 1971 and 1972.
Clay’s career took off when he was traded to the Reds in 1968. He had had a couple good years with the Braves but a couple bad ones also with the Reds starting at the age of 27 he settled in. In looking at his peak years with the Reds I had forgotten how effective he was. He never seemed to be as celebrated as some of the other closers. Maybe it was because he wasn’t a big strike out pitcher. In his career he had 681 strikeouts in 1,353.1 innings pitcher- hardly fireballer stuff. He had a variety of pitches and was able to throw them all for strikes. He didn’t seem all that exciting in fact I thought he was kind of strange looking for a ballplayer- he didn’t look like a ballplayer but nevertheless he was effective. In reality he was only the main closer in Cincinnati for a couple years. Good pitcher.
His career statistics 96-78 with a 2.94 ERA and 143 saves. Carroll was 6’0″ 200 and threw and hit right handed.
After his successful years with the Reds his career started to wind down. In 1976 he pitched with the Chicago White Sox, 1977 St. Louis Cardinals and back to the White Sox and finally in 1978 pitched a couple games with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tragedy struck Carroll’s life after his career ended. In November 1985 his second wife’s son who had been acting strangely shot and killed his mother and step-brother, he wouldn’t Carroll in the face but Carroll survived. The killer was found guilty and is still incarcerated.
Clay Carroll was elected into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1980. He is still living- at age 77.