Reds announce death of 1960s star pitcher Jim O’Toole

(Matt Slocum/AP)

CINCINNATI — Jim O’Toole, a star pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1960s, has died after a long battle with cancer. O’Toole was 78.

The team said O’Toole died Saturday at his home, a day after celebrating Christmas with his large family.

The lefty started the opening game of the 1961 World Series, losing to Yankees ace Whitey Ford 2-0. He also lost Game 4 to Ford, as a New York team featuring Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra won the series in five games. O’Toole gave up four earned runs over 12 innings.

He was the National League’s starting pitcher in the 1963 All-Star Game. O’Toole called that one of his proudest career moments, recalling that manager Alvin Dark chose him to start with a roster that included future Hall of Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn.

O'Toole debuted at age 21 for the Reds late in the 1958 season and was 98-84 over 10 seasons, finishing with the White Sox in 1967. He was 19-9 in 1961 and twice won 17 games.

A Chicago native, O'Toole and wife Betty Jane Wall, his high school sweetheart, adopted Cincinnati as their hometown, where they raised 11 children. He remained active in mingling with Reds fans, supporting charities and participating in local events such as Cincinnati's 2015 St. Patrick's Day parade, serving as the grand marshal.

The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum's site called O'Toole "a fixture at Reds events of all types and sizes throughout his post-playing career." The site's remembrance said O'Toole enjoyed Cincinnati's tradition of making opening day a celebration and won two of three starts for the Reds in their season openers.

"No day was more special to Jim and his expansive family than Opening Day," it said.

O'Toole was inducted into the Reds' team Hall of Fame in 1970.

No information was available immediately on funeral plans.