Former Tigers pitcher Mike Kilkenny dies at 73

The Detroit News
Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Kilkenny in 1966

Former Detroit Tigers left-handed pitcher Mike Kilkenny, who was named the team's rookie of the year in 1969, died last week due to ill health. He was 73.

Kilkenny, a native of Bradford, Ontario, was 23-18 with 4.43 ERA and 301 strikeouts in 401⅓ innings pitched in 139 appearances with four major league teams during a five-year career. 

The gangling 6-foot-3, 175-pound southpaw was signed by Detroit in 1964 for $15,000, which was then a record amount for a Canadian baseball player.

Left-hander Mike Kilkenny pitches in 1969, which is the season he was named Tigers Rookie of the Year.

Kilkenny rose through the Tigers minor league system, making his big-league debut against the Yankees on April 11, 1969, at Tiger Stadium where he pitched two-thirds of scoreless relief. He finished the season strong, putting together four complete-game shutouts in late August and September while compiling an 8-6 mark with a 3.37 ERA and 1.262 WHIP.

Kilkenny pitched in Detroit for three more seasons, finishing 19-17 with a 4.47 ERA before being dealt to the Oakland A's on May 9, 1972 for first baseman Reggie Sanders.

He only pitched one inning for Charlie Finley's club before being shipped eight days later to San Diego along with catcher Curt Blefary and player to be named (minor-league first baseman Greg Schubert) for outfielder Ollie Brown. 

Less than a month later, Kilkenny was jettisoned to Cleveland for infielder Fred Stanley. He pitched his final game for the Indians in May 1973.

After baseball, Kilkenny was a harness racehorse owner and a golf pro, which included working as swing instructor for Ted Potter Jr., according to Society for American Baseball Research. 

He is survived by wife Edie, brother, Peter; children, Rory and Dawn; and numerous grandchildren. Cremation was planned.