Gardner was a left-hander pitcher who played in the majors from 1965 to 1973, bouncing around the league as a frequently-traded journeyman. His career began as a starter with the Mets in 1965. He created a memorable piece of baseball trivia in his final start of that season, taking the ball for the Mets’ game against the Phillies in October 2. Gardner tossed 15 shutout innings, an unfathomable accomplishment in today’s game, as both clubs failed to score. It was eventually declared a 0-0 draw after 18 innings.
The southpaw served a swingman role for the Mets in 1966, tossing 133 2/3 innings with a 5.12 ERA, the largest major league workload of his career. He was traded to the Cubs for the 1967 season and then to Cleveland for the campaign after that, playing a limited role with both clubs. He was stuck in the minors for all of the 1969 campaign but was traded to the Yankees before the following season.
That set the stage for Gardner to create another memorable piece of trivia in the coming years, though not for anything he did on the field. He and Ron Klimkowski were traded to the Athletics for Felipe Alou in April of 1971. Gardner was traded back to the Yankees in May and stayed with them through the 1972 season. Then he was traded to the A’s yet again, this time with Felipe’s brother Matty Alou going to the Yankees, giving Gardner the distinction of having twice been traded from the Yankees to the A’s with one of the Alou brothers going the other way.
Gardner also spent some time with the Brewers in 1973, then spent a couple more years in the minors before hanging up his cleats. He finished his career with a 4.35 ERA in 331 innings, having struck out 193 opponents. After retiring from baseball, he spent time as a firefighter and paramedic in Binghamton. MLBTR sends our condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones.