Clay Palmer Carroll
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 200 lb.
“Did you ever hit anybody on the head with a ripe tomato? It sure makes a funny noise and there’s a way it flattens out to really mess up a guy’s hair.” - Clay Carroll, keeping a bullpen loose
Clay Carroll was a two-time All-Star reliever and the National League saves champion of 1972. Nicknamed "Hawk", he was a key member of the tremendously strong bullpens that characterized the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds clubs of the 1970s.
Clay was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1961. He debuted in 1964 and led the NL with 73 appearances while dealing to an 8-7, 2.37 record for the now Atlanta Braves in 1966. Used mostly as a reliever in his 14 seasons (731 games but just 28 starts), he did have one complete game in his career, on September 4, 1967 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He gave up 5 hits, 2 earned runs, walked 2 and struck out 3 fo an 8-2 victory. In the middle of the 1968 season, he was part of a six-player swap with Cincinnati.
From 1968 to 1975, he won 10 or more games three times, had an ERA under 3.00 six times and saved 119 games while pitching 90 or more innings every year. His career year was 1972, when he went 6-4, 2.25 and his 37 saves led all of the major leagues. The Reds lost the World Series in seven games to the Oakland Athletics, but he was still with the Reds when they won the title in 1975 in seven games over the Boston Red Sox. He was credited with a win in both the 1970 and 1975 Series, and in 1972 went 0-1 but with a save and a 1.59 ERA in 5 games. Overall, he was 3-1, 1.53, in 14 World Series games.
Clay finished his career with a 96-73 record, 2.94 ERA and 143 saves. In 1980, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
- 2-time NL All-Star (1971 & 1972)
- NL Reliever of the Year Award Winner (1972)
- 2-time NL Games Pitched Leader (1966 & 1972)
- NL Saves Leader (1972)
- 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (1972)
- Won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975
- Clay Carroll (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget," Baseball Digest (June 1981), pp. 69-70, 72-73