McDougald led all American League infielders in double plays at three different positions - at third base (1952), at second base (1955) and shortstop (1957). He was the double play leader at shortstop despite sharing time at the position with rookie Tony Kubek.
On May 7, 1957, McDougald, batting against Herb Score of the Cleveland Indians, hit a line drive that hit Score in the right eye. It caused Score to miss the rest of the 1957 and much of the 1958 season. While addressing reporters following the contest, McDougald said, "If Herb loses the sight in his eye, I'm going to quit the game." Score regained his vision and returned to pitching in the majors late in 1958. Only two years before, McDougald was struck in the left ear during batting practice by a ball hit by teammate Bob Cerv. Though initially believed to be a concussion (he missed only a few games), McDougald soon lost the hearing in his left ear and later also in his right. He retired in 1960 at only age 32, though not directly because of his hearing loss.
His hearing loss was somewhat restored by a cochlear implant he received during a surgery at the New York University Medical Center in 1994. McDougald later became a paid spokesperson for the manufacturer, Cochlear Americas, including benefits for hearing organizations and testimony before Congress.