One of the finest southpaw relief pitchers of all-time, Missouri born Knowles was a member of the three-time World Champion Oakland A’s of 1972 to 1974. The left-handed fireman was one of but a few Major League ballplayers who served his country during the Vietnam War.
Darold made his Major League debut in 1965 with the Baltimore Orioles. The Birds didn’t bother pruning and grooming the young pitcher, sending him to the Phillies with flaky outfielder Jackie Brandt for pitcher Jack Baldschun. With the Phillies, Darold showed signs of what was to come, saving 13 games and fanning 88 batters in 100 innings of work. Despite his success in the Baltimore bullpen, the Orioles used him as trade bait after the season and sent him to the Senators for slugger Don Lock.
Darold became a successful fireman in the nation’s capitol, saving 14 games in 1967 on a 2.70 ERA. He trimmed his ERA down to 2.18 in 1968 but missed time during the season to military service. Knowles served in the Air National Guard and spent time overseas during the war. Darold returned to the Senators in 1969, a surprise team managed by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. The Missourian helped The Splendid Splinter become the AL’s Manager of the Year by fashioning a 9-2, 2.24 record with 13 saves.
In 1970, Darold had a misleading 2-14 record for the Senators who reverted back to their losing ways. His ERA was a tidy 2.04 and he saved 27 games. But the poor record misled the Senators’ brass and Darold was shipped off to Oakland with Mike Epstein for lefty Paul Lindblad and slugger Don Mincher. It was as a member of the A’s where Knowles achieved his greatest success.
Teaming with Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, Darold gave the A’s a brilliant relief core that was adept at putting out fires. In his first full year in Oakland, Darold had a solid .833 winning percentage on his unearthly 1.36 ERA. He surrendered just 49 hits in 66 innings of work while his A’s won the World Series. They became repeat champions in 1973. In that season’s World Series, Darold pitched in every game, saved two contests, didn’t surrender an earned run and recorded the final out in the final game.
Despite his World Series heroics, Darold was shipped off to the Cubs with fellow fireman Bob Locker and second baseman Manny Trillo for aging Hall of Famer Billy Williams after the Fall Classic. He saved 15 games his first year in Wrigley Field and then trimmed his ERA down to 2.88 in 1976.
A return trip to the American League was in the cards for Darold in 1977 when he was traded to the Rangers for Gene Clines. In his lone season in the Lone Star State, Knowles fashioned a splendid .718 winning percentage. The Expos purchased his contract after the season and Darold went north of the border for one year, posting a trim 2.38 ERA for the boys of Montreal. He finished his career with the 1980 St. Louis Cardinals.
W 66/L 74/PCT .471/SV 143/G 765/IP 1,092/H 1,006/BB 480/SO 681/ERA 3.12