|Born: March 6, 1933|
Stanley, North Carolina
|Died: December 16, 2004 (aged 71)|
Gastonia, North Carolina
|April 13, 1955, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1972, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Earned run average||3.46|
Ted Wade Abernathy (March 6, 1933 – December 16, 2004) was an American professional baseball player and right-handed pitcher. He appeared in 681 games in Major League Baseball, 647 as a relief pitcher, for seven different clubs over all or parts of 14 seasons between 1955 and 1972, amassed 148 saves, and twice (1965, 1967) led the National League in that category. He batted and threw right-handed, stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall, and weighed 215 pounds (98 kg).
Abernathy was a member of the Washington Senators (1955–57, 1960), Cleveland Indians (1963–64), Chicago Cubs (1965–66, 1969–70), Atlanta Braves (1966), Cincinnati Reds (1967–68), St. Louis Cardinals (1970) and Kansas City Royals (1970–72). He compiled a 63–69 record with 765 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA in 1,1472⁄3 innings pitched. He gave up 1,010 hits and permitted 592 bases on balls.
A native of Stanley, North Carolina, Abernathy was born on March 6, 1933, to Wade and Genora (McGinnis) Abernathy. He graduated from Stanley High School and signed with the Senators in 1952. In 1953 he married Margie Clemmer.
He changed his pitching motion from an overhead delivery to a three-quarter delivery after tearing two muscles in his shoulder making a throw from the outfield during his freshman year of high school. After shoulder surgery in 1959 left his career in doubt, he switched from the three-quarter delivery and become an effective sidearmer who developed a submarine pitch. He spent two years in the minor leagues before being called up by the Senators in April 1955. Throughout most of the 1950s, he split time between the Senators' major league squad and their farm system.
During the Korean War he was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving with medics, driving an ambulance and repairing vehicles. He served at Fort McPherson, Georgia. He was discharged as a corporal in time to join the Senators for 1955 spring training. He made his Major League debut for the Senators at age 22 on April 13, 1955 in 19–1 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. In the fourth inning he relieved Mickey McDermott and struck out Andy Carey before giving up a home run to Mickey Mantle followed by a groundout by Yogi Berra. Every one of his 34 MLB starting pitcher assignments came with the 1955–57 Senators, a struggling, second-division team in the American League. He threw seven complete games and two shutouts as a starter, but won only eight of 30 decisions during that three-year period.
Apart from two games with Washington in 1960, Abernathy spent five years (1958–62) toiling in minor league baseball before returning to the majors as a bullpen ace for the 1963 Indians. Sold to the Cubs in April 1965, Abernathy recorded a league-leading 31 saves (again for a second-division team), along with 104 strikeouts and a 2.57 ERA. He had 28 saves, 88 strikeouts, and a 1.27 ERA two seasons later with Cincinnati. In both 1965 and 1967, he led the league in saves, and won the TSN Reliever of the Year Award. In 1968, Abernathy won 10 games with 13 saves, and had 10 wins and 14 saves in 1970. He led the National League in games pitched three times: 1965 (with 84, a major-league record at the time), 1967 and 1968.
After retiring from the game, he worked at Summey Building Systems in Dallas, North Carolina, and later worked with his son at his landscaping business, Todd Abernathy Landscaping, and was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Dallas. He enjoyed playing softball and tinkering with old cars and was active in several organizations including the Masonic Lodge, the Shriners and Major League Baseball's alumni society.
During his later years he suffered from Alzheimer's disease and lived at the Belaire Health Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina. Ted Abernathy died at age 71 on December 16, 2004 in Gastonia. He is interred at the Garden of Four Seasons in Gaston Memorial Park, Gastonia, North Carolina.
He was survived by his wife of 51 years, Margie; his sons Ted Jr. and Todd and their wives; his mother; four grandchildren; and his brother Richard Wayne Abernathy.