TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Frank Lary, the star Detroit Tigers pitcher who was called the Yankee Killer because of his success against New York’s big-hitting lineup, has died at 87. He died Wednesday night after being hospitalized in Tuscaloosa with pneumonia, nephew Joe Lary said.
Lary pitched with the Tigers from 1954-64 and led the American League with 21 wins in 1956. A two-time All-Star, he won the Gold Glove Award in 1961, when he went 23-9 and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting behind Whitey Ford and Warren Spahn.
Lary got his nickname by going 27-10 against the Yankees from 1955-61, a span when they won six pennants. Joe Lary says that success was “really due to his competitive spirit” as the second youngest of seven boys growing up on a farm.
“He always said, ‘You don’t think I can do something, I’ll show you,’ ” he said. “I think that’s probably the attitude he took with the Bronx Bombers.”
Lary also played for the Mets, Milwaukee Braves and Chicago White Sox during a 12-year career in which he went 128-116.
Lary was born in Northport, Alabama, and pitched for the University of Alabama. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to the College World Series in 1950. He is survived by his wife, Emma, and four children.