Recent Passings

Nickname Hall of Famer Walt 'No-Neck' Williams dies at 72

By Scott Ridge
The Sporting News
January 27, 2016 4:04pm EST

Walt Williams, a former outfielder for the White Sox in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, died Saturday at the age of 72.

Although a solid .270 hitter in 10-year career, Williams will be best known for one of baseball's all-time great nicknames — “No-Neck.”

Walt “No-Neck” Williams was just 5-6, 165 pounds during his playing days. He played the last three years of his career with the Indians and Yankees before retiring in 1975.

Williams played in an era when funky nicknames were the norm. Catfish Hunter, Blue Moon Odom and Goose Gossage were among Williams’ many colorful contemporaries.

Williams’ best season was 1969 when he finished sixth in the AL in batting (.304 in 507 ABs)

Williams was living in Abilene, Texas, at the time of his death. Services will be Saturday in Brownwood, Texas.

He finished his career with 33 homers and 173 RBIs. He started with the Astros in 1964 but had only 10 at-bats in the National League before moving to Chicago of the American League.

Clyde Mashore, former major league player and Clayton Valley star, dies

Bay Area News Group
January 26, 2016 08:02:17 PM PST

Clyde Mashore, who spent five seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds and Montreal Expos, has died. He was 70.

Mashore, who appeared in 241 major league games, died Sunday at his home in Brentwood.

A three-sport star at Clayton Valley High, Mashore joined the Reds in 1964 as a free agent. He played in two games for the Reds in 1969, then was traded to Montreal midway through the 1970 season for outfielder Ty Cline. Mashore played all three outfields as well as second and third base. He was a .208 lifetime hitter.

His sons, Damon and Justin, are also Clayton Valley grads both working in baseball. Damon, an outfielder with the A's during the 1996-97 seasons, is the minor league hitting coordinator for the Dodgers. Justin will be a coach this season with the Texas Rangers.

Clyde Mashore's grandson is Richard Rodgers Jr., the former Cal tight end now with the Green Bay Packers.

Ron Stillwell, longtime area baseball coach, dies at 76

By Jim Carlisle
The Ventura County Star
January 26, 2016

Ron Stillwell, who as a coach helped build the baseball programs at Thousand Oaks High, Cal Lutheran and Moorpark College, and as a player captained a national champion USC team, died Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Stillwell had lived in Lake Almanor. His son Rod confirmed his father's passing in a Facebook post.

Known for his dry sense of humor and skillful coaching ability, Ron Stillwell played shortstop at USC and captained its national championship team in 1961.

A week after graduating from USC, Stillwell signed a contract with the Washington Senators, but his major league career was limited to only 14 games because of an injury.

"He was playing shortstop," former Oxnard College coach Jerry White recalled Tuesday. "He went out on a fly ball, a pop-up, and the left fielder ran into him and it was an eye injury. He never did fully recover from that well enough to continue his career."

Stillwell took a job in 1964 at Thousand Oaks High when it was still part of the Oxnard Union High School District and taught there 33 years, coaching for 25. In addition to baseball, he also coached cross country and freshman basketball at various times.

George Contreras was just beginning his coaching career just before Stillwell left to coach at Cal Lutheran. While Contreras went on to coach primarily football, he was junior varsity baseball coach in 1971 under Stillwell.

"He combined a great sense of humor with a great professional attitude at all times," Contreras said. "... I just remember that kind of an impish look he'd get on his face when he was cracking a joke or bringing a little more sunshine into your life on a daily basis."

While still teaching at Thousand Oaks High, Stillwell was baseball coach at Cal Lutheran in 1972-1978, where he had a record of 139-100-1 (.581) and was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1976. He was hired by Bob Shoup, who was then the athletic director.

"Ron was one of those really personable people that seemed to bring out the best in his players," Shoup said from his home in San Marcos, "and we were just privileged to have him at Cal Lutheran because I think he really put the foundation of the program together that some of the (later) coaches have benefited from."

Stillwell was a walk-on coach at Moorpark College in 1985-1989, where he was 91-88 (.508).

"I don't know that you're going to find anybody that's going to say anything but that he was just a nice, nice man," said White, who coached against Stillwell at Oxnard and coached with him at clinics. The two also officiated high school basketball games together.

Stillwell was twice selected to manage a U.S. college all-star team against a Japanese team.

Ronald Roy Stillwell was born Dec. 3, 1939, in Los Angeles and graduated from Burbank-Burroughs High in 1957. He was elected to the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

"I think I'm proudest of the fact I tried to teach baseball the right way," he told The Star at his induction. "I wanted my kids to learn how to play baseball with the proper fundamentals, but I also wanted them to have fun while they did it."

Stillwell's son Kurt was the second pick of the 1983 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds and played in the majors for nine seasons. His younger son Rod — named after former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux — played college ball at Arkansas and advanced, like his father, to the College World Series in 1989.

Rod was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played two season of Class A minor league ball. He and his wife Valerie both teach at Thousand Oaks High.

In addition to Kurt and Rod, Stillwell is survived by Jan, his wife of 55 years, and their oldest son Scott.

The Thousand Oaks High Alumni Association said in a Facebook post a memorial will be held in the spring in Lake Almanor.

Red Sox Hall of Famer Sullivan passes away

Two-time All-Star, subject of famed Norman Rockwell painting, was 85

By Spencer Fordin / | January 20th, 2016

Former Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan, a two-time All-Star during an eventful 11-season playing career, passed away Tuesday at the age of 85. Sullivan, who led Boston in ERA for four straight seasons from 1954-57, was just four days shy of his 86th birthday.

Sullivan signed with the team as an amateur in 1948, and after serving in the Army during the Korean War, made his big league debut in '53. He pushed into the team's starting rotation in '54 and was credited with a team-high 15 wins.

A native of Hollywood, Calif., Sullivan was named to the All-Star team in 1955, when he notched an 18-13 record with a 2.91 ERA. He was an All-Star again in '56 and led the Major Leagues in WHIP (1.06) in '57, and the Red Sox traded him to Philadelphia after the '60 season.

Sullivan was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Sullivan was also one of the Red Sox players immortalized in Norman Rockwell's famed 1957 painting "The Rookie."

The Red Sox tweeted their condolences: "We're sending our thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Frank Sullivan."

Following his playing career, Sullivan lived in Hawaii for a half-century and served as a director of golf for a number of local courses. He wrote a book titled "Life is More Than 9 Innings: Memories of a Boston Red Sox Relief Pitcher," which was published in 2009, and last visited Fenway Park in '14.

Sullivan is survived by his wife Marilyn, his sons Mike and Mark, his daughter-in-law Leihina, his grandson Kapono and his granddaughters Kea, Summer and Lauren.

USD’s Kerry Dineen Dies at 63; .409 Hitter Had Brief Yankees Career

By Ken Stone
The Times Of San Diego
January 17, 2016

University of San Diego is mourning former Toreros baseball star Kerry Michael Dineen, who had a .409 college batting average and briefly played for the New York Yankees.

Dineen, an all-CIF player for Chula Vista High School, died Nov. 21, according to USD.

“Kerry Dineen was one of those special players not everyone has the privilege of coaching,” said former USD coach John “JC” Cunningham. “He loved the game and was immune to pressure.”

A first cousin of fellow former major leaguer Ken Henderson, Dineen was an All-American all three years at USD (1971-1973) and was the first Torero to make it to the major leagues — and the only one to finish above .400 as a batter.

He was inducted into USD’s Chet & Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Outfielder Dineen, a left-handed hitter and thrower, was taken by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 1973 amateur draft and debuted in pinstripes against the Boston Red Sox on June 14, 1975.

A year later, his outing of May 21, 1976, was recalled by Bill Lewers in his book “Six Decades of Baseball: A Personal Narrative.”

“This was the night after the famous brawl when Carlton Fisk duked it out with Thurman Munson and Bill Lee suffered a serious arm injury,” Lewers wrote. “The game I saw was an exciting game in its own right. It was finally won by the Yankees in the bottom of the 12th on an RBI single by rookie outfielder Kerry Dineen.

“It was the first RBI of his major-league career and would represent 50 percent of his final career total.”

His last major-league year was 1978 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played only 16 games in the major leagues, according to, but finished with a batting average of .324.

A death notice in The San Diego Union-Tribune said Kerry is survived by his wife, Jamie, and his sons Kerry Jr. and Cory, his daughter, Katie, her husband, Eddie, and grandchildren Stephen, Emilly and Mackenna.

A celebration of life will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 23 at the American Legion Post 434, 47 Fifth Ave. in Chula Vista, where he grew up.

Former Yankees pitcher Luis Arroyo dead at 88

The New York Daily News
Associated Press
Thursday, January 14, 2016, 2:00 AM

Former All-Star pitcher Luis Arroyo has died. He was 88.

The New York Yankees say Arroyo’s daughter, Milagros, told the team Wednesday night that he had died earlier in the day in Puerto Rico. She said he had been diagnosed last month with cancer.

Arroyo helped pitch the Yankees to the 1961 World Series championship. The 5-foot-8 lefty was 15-5 with a major league-leading 29 saves that season, then earned another victory in the Series against Cincinnati.

Arroyo was an All-Star as a rookie starter with St. Louis in 1955 and again in 1961. Featuring a screwball, he was 40-32 with 45 saves and a 3.93 ERA in eight seasons with the Cardinals, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and the Yankees.

According to, Arroyo was the first Puerto Rican-born player to appear for the Yankees. He started with them in 1960 and was a key part of their AL pennant-winning staff.

Monte Irvin, Giants’ Hall of Famer, dies at 96

By John Shea
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 7:11 pm

Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, a Negro Leagues legend and one of the Giants’ first two African American players, died Monday night of natural causes at his Houston home. He was 96.

Mr. Irvin was a candidate to become baseball’s first African American player before Branch Rickey of the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, who debuted in 1947. Two years later, on July 8, 1949, Mr. Irvin played his first Giants game, along with Hank Thompson.

“Monte helped me so much when I came up,” Willie Mays said of his mentor in a phone interview. “He made me aware of a lot of things. He talked to me about life and baseball. I’m shocked.”

Mays last saw Mr. Irvin at the White House in June when President Obama honored the Giants for winning the 2014 World Series. In May, when the Giants were playing a series in Houston, team executives visited with Mr. Irvin to present him a World Series ring and invite him to Washington.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Mr. Irvin said after receiving the ring. “Baseball has been my life since I was 8 years old.”

Mr. Irvin grew up in New Jersey. He excelled in multiple sports in high school and college, and rose to prominence in the Negro Leagues with the Newark Eagles. The long-segregated major leagues denied Mr. Irvin during much of his prime; he joined the Giants at 30.

Mr. Irvin made an immediate impact with the Giants and was instrumental in the great pennant run of 1951 when they overcame the Dodgers’ 13½-game lead. He batted .312 with 24 homers and a league-high 121 RBIs.

Mays, Thompson and Mr. Irvin formed the majors’ first all-black outfield.

The Giants retired his No. 20 in 2010.

“Monte was a true gentleman whose exceptional baseball talent was only surpassed by his character and kindness,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said. “He was a great ambassador for the game throughout his playing career and beyond.”

As a premier ballplayer of high standards and character, Mr. Irvin was hailed by many of his Negro Leagues peers as the perfect candidate to break baseball’s color line. He was on Rickey’s short list, along with Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Larry Doby and Robinson, but was not in top baseball shape after serving in the Army during World War II.

Mr. Irvin wanted to hone his skills before pursuing the majors. He was discharged Sept. 1, 1945, and Rickey signed Robinson seven weeks later, Oct. 23. Also, Mr. Irvin’s Negro Leagues team wanted compensation for losing the five-tool player, and Rickey was reluctant to pay.

“It could’ve been (me), but I don’t think about that,” Mr. Irvin told The Chronicle in 2010. “I think about Jackie getting a chance, setting a high standard and making it possible for the rest of us to come along.”

Mr. Irvin played seven seasons for the Giants, including with the 1954 team that swept Cleveland in the World Series, and retired after playing the 1956 season for the Chicago Cubs. He worked as a New York Mets scout and assistant public-relations director for Major League Baseball, the first black man appointed to an MLB executive position, and later was a special assistant in the commissioner’s office.

“The reason we had an all-black outfield in ’51 is Don Mueller got hurt, so Hank Thompson was a legitimate replacement,” Irvin said in a Chronicle interview. “So what? People talk about, ‘You’re the first to do this. You’re the first to do that.’ Don’t dwell on race all the time.

“Everyone says we have our first African American president. Has there ever been a Jewish president? An Italian president? They don’t say a damn thing about that. You think we’re still fighting the Civil War or something. If you want to mention it in passing, OK. But don’t dwell on it.

“But again, I want to pay tribute to Jackie for what he did. With Mays and (Hank) Aaron and Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson, it probably would’ve happened anyway in time, but he made it easier — and that much quicker for us by succeeding. He became a drawing card, and I applaud him for all of that.”

Mays recalled a liquor store he and Mr. Irvin opened in Brooklyn, but the partnership was short-lived.

Giants manager Leo Durocher “made me get out of it. He said, ‘You can’t have a liquor store in Brooklyn,’” said Mays, citing a Giants-run business in the Dodgers’ territory.

Mays credited Mr. Irvin, his onetime roommate, for helping to create openings for him with the Birmingham Black Barons (Mays’ Negro Leagues team) in 1948 and Triple-A Minneapolis in 1951, as well as with the Giants.

“He told people about me, so by the time I got there, people knew who I was,” Mays said. “He taught me a lot of things about the majors when I came up in ’51. He lived in Orange, N.J., right in front of a park, and we’d walk through the park talking. I was a young man. He taught me about spring training, about traveling, where to go, how to be treated, how to treat others.

“It was a wonderful learning experience.”

Alton Leo Brown

Published in The Virginian Pilot on Jan. 12, 2016

Virginia Beach - Alton Leo "Deacon" Brown, 90, passed away peacefully at home on January 10, 2016, surrounded by his loved ones.

Al was born in Norfolk to the late Herbert and Naomi Ward Brown. He was preceded in death by one son, Thomas Steven Brown; his sisters, Dorothy Marker, Malvine Hudgins and Ruby Flowers; and his brothers Elliott "Zeke" Brown, Sr. and Tommy Brown.

Al joined the U.S. Army (1944-46) and served in the European theater, primarily in Italy and Germany. It was during his time in the service that he played baseball for the first time. When he returned home he pitched in local city leagues until 1948, when he began his professional baseball career as a pitcher for the Roanoke Rapids Jays. While with the Jays, Al was voted the Coastal Plains League MVP in 1950.

Al made his Major League debut in 1951, pitching for the Washington Senators. In his first game as a Senator, he walked Joe DiMaggio and held the Yankees scoreless, allowing just two hits in his two-inning debut. He pitched six more games with the Senators before returning to the minors with the Chattanooga Lookouts. Al would go on to pitch several more seasons, having stints with the Richmond Colts, Norfolk Tars, and York White Roses. It was with the White Roses where he befriended a talented young kid named Brooks Robinson, who would remain a lifelong friend.

After retiring from baseball in 1956, Al returned to work as a longshoreman in Norfolk. He retired from ILA Local 1624 and Southern Stevedoring in 1980. Al was also an avid golfer, obtaining a 3 handicap, and was a member of Norfolk Moose Lodge #39, VFW Post 4809, and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 67 years, Shirley Biggs Brown; his daughters, Leslie Fournier (Mike), Kay Brown (Robert Read) and Kelly Howard; his son, Alton Matthew Brown; four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

At Al's request, there will be no service. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad at P.O. Box 62345, Virginia Beach, VA 23466. Cremation Society of Virginia is handling the arrangements.

Lance G. Rautzhan
January 10, 2016

Lance G. Rautzhan, 63, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., passed from this life into eternal life Saturday at home with his wife, Crystal, and daughter, Jaime, by his side.

Born in Pottsville, Aug. 20, 1952, Lance was a son of Martha Sterner and the late William Rautzhan Sr.

In addition to his father, Lance was preceded in death by his brother, William Rautzhan Jr.

Lance was a member of the Blue Mountain High School, Class of 1970; after leaving high school, he was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lance pitched in the 1977 and 1978 World Series. While playing baseball, Lance also served in the Coast Guard Reserves.

After his baseball career, Lance owned and operated Rautzhan’s Crossroads Hotel, Adamsdale.

Due to his avid love of golf and warm weather, he and Crystal relocated to Myrtle Beach in 2003. Lance last worked for Prestige Homes, Myrtle Beach.

Lance was a proud member of the Blue Mountain High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Allen-Rogowicz Chapter Sports Hall of Fame and, in November 2014, surrounded by family and friends, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Lance was by far the definition of a great husband, father and friend as evidenced by the many people that supported him during his eight-year battle with cancer. He celebrated life daily and will never be forgotten.

In addition to his best friend and loving wife of 22 years, Crystal K. Rautzhan, Lance is survived by two dedicated and loving children, his son, Lance W. Rautzhan, husband of Megan, and his daughter, Jaime Rautzhan Clemas, wife of Joseph; brothers, Brian Rautzhan, husband of Terry, Gregory Rautzhan, husband of Denise; sister-in-law, Kendal, wife of the late William Rautzhan Jr.; two grandsons, whom he absolutely adored, Ryan and Landon Clemas; nieces, nephews and many wonderful friends.

Condolences may be sent to wife, Crystal, at 2472 Covington Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579 and/or his son, Lance, and daughter, Jaime, at 73 W. Second Mountain Road, Pottsville, PA 17901. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date at the convenience of the family.

Services Scheduled For Long Time Culver Resident and Chicago White Sox Star

The Culver City Observer
January 7, 2016

Longtime Culver City resident James (Jim) McAnany died on December 16 at the age of 79.

A memorial mass is scheduled for Saturday, January 9 at 11 am at St. Peter Cleaver Catholic Church, 2380 Stow St. in Simi Valley.

McAnany lived in Culver City for more than 30 years and was active in local civic and church organizations. He was an active member of St. Augustine church in Culver City for many years.

A devoted Grandfather. he moved to Simi Valley to be closer to his Grandchildren.

He owned and operated Norman Eck Insurance for many years then joined his son Jimmy McAnany at Neilson/McAnany Insurance in Simi Valley which is owned by his son.

McAnany was active with youth sports with the Babe Ruth Little League and hosting families for the tournaments. He supported LMU and Loyola High School booster clubs along with supporting sports programs at Cal State Northridge.

Mel Marmer, writing for Society for American Baseball Research, appreciates McAnany's baseball talent.

After playing in the minor league recalled Jim McAnany, who was batting .315 at Indianapolis, in hope of providing an offensive spark. Writes Marmer..

"Mac" did an outstanding job – within three weeks, he was batting .382, with 14 RBI in 15 games. Jim was a complete player: in addition to his timely hitting, he ran well, and racked up six outfield assists.

In his book, '59 Summer of the Sox, author Bob Vanderberg quotes New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel addressing the White Sox beat reporters about McAnany after a game: "They've been a real ballclub since that McSweeney come up.

" First time I see him, he throws one of my men out at the plate in Chicago. He makes catches, he runs, he hits good. You ain't had a bit of trouble in right field since he got there. Before that, you had nothing else but trouble."

Jim McAnany's baseball career ended prematurely because of nagging injuries. Jim had few regrets, however; he considered himself fortunate to do what he loved best: play Major League Baseball, and to have earned a World Series ring in the process. "Mac" has enjoyed a "good life" after baseball.

James McAnany was born September 4 1936, in Los Angeles and grew up in the city's Westside district. His father, Clifford, was a sales manager for Picksweet/ Swanson Frozen Foods and his mother, Stella, nee Pociask, a housewife. There were four children – two boys and two girls.

He and his brother first played baseball in nearby Rancho Park. At Loyola High School Jim played the outfield and the team became the California Interscholastic Federation champion

He was also a halfback on the football team. As he grew up Jim followed the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League on the radio. The first professional baseball game he saw was between the Angels and the Hollywood Stars.

Jim attended USC for two years, playing the outfield before leaving during his sophomore year. He was signed by White Sox scouts Hollis Thurston and Doc Bennett, the same pair who signed Johnny Callison a year later.

McAnany was called up to Chicago at the end of the 1958 season and made his major-league debut in Kansas City's Municipal Stadium on September 19, appearing as a pinch hitter for Early Wynn. He struck out swinging against Ralph Terry.

He started three games in right field in 1958. He finished the year with a batting average of .000, having made outs in each of his 13 at-bats. Five of the outs were strikeouts. It was a disappointing finish to the year.

McAnany began 1959 in Indianapolis and found a lot more success when the White Sox called him up late in June. He recalled, "I was on a plane to Denver. They notified me to say I was going to Chicago. I got to Chicago and took a cab to Comiskey Park. I got there in the third inning of a Yankee game. The next day, I was in the starting lineup!"

That day, Sunday, June 28, Lopez sat left-handed batter Harry Simpson, who had gotten two hits off right-hander Bob Turley the day before, and started McAnany in right field against lefty Whitey Ford. McAnany responded with the first Sox hit of the game, a single. He hit safely in his first four starts, all of them games in which the opposing team started left-handers.

McAnany's hot streak continued well into July. One example: he had only three triples in his career, but two of them came on the same day, July 12, 1959, one in each game of a doubleheader against Kansas City. Both triples came with the bases loaded. Six of his 27 career RBIs came on that one day.

On July 17, McAnany "returned the favor" to Ralph Terry, who had struck him out in his first major-league at-bat in '58, by breaking up Terry's no-hit bid in the ninth inning with a line single into center field. The White Sox went on to defeat the Yankees, 2-0, before their largest road crowd of the season, 42,168. It was an important win, putting Chicago ahead of Cleveland by a game and 6½ up on the Yankees.

McAnany wound up starting a team-high 58 games in right field for the White Sox in 1959. He also started two games in left field, and played three innings in center field. He accumulated 210 at-bats with a .276 batting average, driving in 27 runs and doing his part to help Chicago reach the World Series.

After the 1959 fall classic, in which McAnany walked once and made five outs in six plate appearances for another .000 batting average, he entered the Army Reserve and completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In February, while stationed there, he was able to get leave long enough to come home for a weekend and marry his sweetheart, Rosemary.

Back at Fort Leonard Wood, working in the snow and 10-degree temperatures, he injured his shoulder. As spring approached, Jim tried to work out to prepare for spring training. The shoulder problem recurred and began to nag him. It eventually led to his retirement from baseball.

McAnany recalled: "I was released from duty late and was late getting to spring training in 1960. It was a big disappointment coming off a World Series 'high.' Then, in 1961, I was recalled to active duty because of the Berlin Crisis and spent most of the year at Fort Lewis, Washington.

"It was a big disruption to my baseball career. But I have no regrets; I felt that it was my duty to serve my country. I just wish that it had not played such a large part in ending my baseball career prematurely."

On his hitting: "I had difficulty hitting fastballs and curves, especially those thrown by Sandy Koufax. Fortunately, no pitcher seemed to have had my number; I didn't strike out that much (38 whiffs in 241 big-league at-bats). I'm glad Early Wynn was on our side; I'd have hated to hit against him in a game. Ryne Duren was a tough pitcher – we thought that he was mean-spirited. In retrospect, he was probably using his control problems – lack of it – to intimidate us.

Jim and Rosemary'son, Jim (James Emmot), played in the College World Series for Loyola Marymount University and was drafted by the Angels. He played 271 minor-league games before joining his father full time in the insurance business.

Daughter Michele, a teacher, played baseball for Phil Niekro's Colorado Silver Bullets. Jim and Rosemary live near their children and five grandchildren.

Jay Ritchie Sr.

Published in Salisbury Post from Jan. 6 to Jan. 7, 2016

Jay Seay Ritchie Sr., 80, of Rockwell, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center in Salisbury. He was born on Nov. 20, 1935, to the late Gilbert and Ila Brown Ritchie in Rowan County. He was a 1955 graduate of Granite Quarry High School.

Jay played professional baseball and in later years worked as a car salesman for Ben Mynatt Nissan. He was a member of Shiloh Reformed Church; the Major League Baseball Players Association; a faithful member of the Saleeby Fisher YMCA Coffee Crew; and Rowan County Sports Hall of Fame.

Jay was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves. He played winter baseball in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and remained an avid baseball fan throughout his life. Jay was an avid Duke fan and enjoyed watching sports. He enjoyed traveling with his wife Shelby.

Jay is survived by his wife of more than 59 years, Shelby Jean Burwell Ritchie, who he married Dec. 22, 1956; two daughters, Cindi Stevens and husband Bobby of Salisbury, Luann Fesperman and husband Gary of Salisbury; son Jay Seay Ritchie Jr. of Rockwell; two sisters, Mary Sherrill and Lottie Simpson; brother Herman Ritchie; four granddaughters, Brittin S. Cox and husband Dustin of Asheville, Adrian S. Staton and husband Matt of Rockwell, Mikel Ann F. Mason and husband Chris of Weddington and Whitley Stevens and fiance Ryne Jordan of Salisbury; two grandsons, Ritchie Fesperman and girlfriend Elinor Hurt of Durham and Jase Ritchie of Salisbury; two great-granddaughters, Kenzie and Camryn; and three great-grandsons, Eli, Levi and Smith.

In addition to his parents, Jay was preceded in death by brothers George Ritchie, Hoke Ritchie and Ray Ritchie. Visitation: Visitation is Friday, Jan. 8 from 1-3 p.m. at the Shiloh Reformed Church Fireplace Lobby. Service: Funeral services will be held Friday, Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. at Shiloh Reformed Church of Faith, with Rev. Richard Myers officiating. Burial will follow in the Shiloh Reformed Church Cemetery.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials in memory of Jay may be made to Shiloh Reformed Church, P.O. Box 308, Faith, NC 28041.

Powles-Staton Funeral Home of Rockwell, honored provider of Veterans Funeral Care, is assisting the family of Jay Ritchie.

Former Cardinals manager Vern Rapp dies

By Ben Frederickson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 01, 2016 1:00 am

New St. Louis Cardinals Manager Vern Rapp, left and Cardinals president August A. Busch Jr., talk to reporters at Rapp’s first meeting with the media in St. Louis, Missouri on Oct. 12, 1976. Rapp announced that veteran outfielder Lou Brock will be a player coach next season, working on outfielding and base running. (AP Photo)
Enlarge Photo

Vern Rapp, the former Cardinals manager whose disciplinary ways led to a clean-shaven Al Hrabosky, died of natural causes Thursday in Broomfield, Colo. He was 87.

Rapp, who was born in St. Louis in May 1928 and attended Cleveland High School, signed his first playing contract with the Cardinals in 1945. His $100-per-month deal never turned into playing time for the Redbirds but did start a winding path that led to him managing the club.

A catcher who paused his career to serve in the Korean War in 1951 and 1952, Rapp didn’t make it beyond the Class AAA level as a player. But the two decades of playing and managing in the minors led to a major-league return to his hometown. The Cardinals hired him as Red Schoendienst’s replacement before the 1977 season.

Rapp, then 49, steered the team to an 83-79 record and a third-place finish that marked an 11-game improvement from 1976. But the hard-nosed managerial tactics he found success with in the minors didn’t always mesh with his players in the majors.

“With Vern, it was such a big transition,” former Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch once told the Post-Dispatch. Forsch died in 2011. “From laid-back Red to Vern. Vern was more military, where he’d say, ‘I’ll even tell you how to dress.’ He stood (coach) Sonny Ruberto on a trunk in spring training and said, ‘This is how to wear your uniforms.’”

Long hair wasn’t an option. Faces had to be shaved. Jackets and ties on the road. No blue jeans.

Tension entered the clubhouse. An argument with star catcher Ted Simmons went public, among other incidents. Rapp was fired after the Cardinals went 6-11 to begin the 1978 season.

The strict baseball man had a softer side, though. He is survived by his wife, Audrey, four daughters, a brother, 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

“He was a very devoted husband and father,” said Beth Ackerson, a daughter. “Family, that was his No. 1 game. We would go to spring training, and we would all travel to wherever he was in the summer. We would make a home there. That was really important to him.”

Rapp’s second stint as a major-league manager came with Cincinnati in 1984. The Reds started 51-70 before he was replaced by player-manager Pete Rose. Rapp then retired to Colorado, where he found a new hobby — fly-fishing.

Rapp’s most memorable moment, at least in the eyes of Cardinal Nation, came when he clashed with Hrabosky, nicknamed the “The Mad Hungarian”, over the relief pitcher’s beloved Fu Manchu. Hrabosky parted with the mustache, but later said he felt like a soldier without his rifle. Time has since healed the shaving wounds.

“He’s part of the baseball family,” said Hrabosky, now a commentator for Fox Sports Midwest. “How rare to be a manager at the major-league level and he was a successful coach, a teacher and everything else. He just had a way about himself that kind of rubbed some people wrong. Our personalities, they clashed. But I had no ill will against the man, and there have been many times I’ve thought about him, and wondered how he was doing.”

Frank Malzone, Star Fielder for Boston Red Sox, Dies at 85

By Bruce Weberdec
The New York Times
December 30 2015

Frank Malzone, a six-time All-Star third baseman whose steady presence in the Boston lineup tied together two of the city’s baseball eras, linking Ted Williams’s Red Sox with Carl Yastrzemski’s, died on Tuesday at his home in Needham, Mass. He was 85.

The Red Sox announced his death.

Malzone played with the Red Sox from 1955 to 1965, not a period of distinction for the franchise — the team never finished higher than third — even though it was led by two future Hall of Fame outfielders: Williams, who retired in 1960, not having played in a World Series since 1946, and Yastrzemski, who arrived in 1961 and finally led the team to a pennant in 1967. As one Boston hero passed the torch to the other, Malzone was a stalwart supporting player for both.

He was remarkably durable, playing in more than 150 games in seven consecutive seasons, including 475 games in a row. In the 1959 season, he played 42 more games at third than anyone else in the American League, handling so many more chances that he led the league in both errors and fielding percentage.

As a hitter, Malzone swung a solid if not spectacular right-handed bat. His career average was .274, but he batted .280 or better in five of his first seven full seasons, 1957 to 1963, and knocked in more than 90 runs three times, including 103 in 1957.

He made the All-Star team in each of his first four full seasons. In the second of two All-Star Games in 1959 (from 1959 to 1962 there were two All-Star Games annually), he hit a home run off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Don Drysdale, a future Hall of Famer, and in his last All-Star appearance, in 1963, he batted cleanup for the American League.

Early in his career, Malzone was perhaps the best defensive third baseman in baseball. He won a Gold Glove in 1957, when that annual award made its debut and was given to just one player at each position in the big leagues. From the next year on, a Gold Glove has been given to the best fielder at each position in each league; Malzone won the American League award in 1958 and 1959, and if Brooks Robinson — who won the next 16 in a row while playing for the Baltimore Orioles — had not come along, he might have picked up a few more.

“We’re not only happy with Malzone; we’re practically hysterical about him,” Mike Higgins, a former Red Sox third baseman who managed the team from 1955 to 1962 and was known as Pinky, told The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. “I couldn’t carry his glove. Neither could anyone else I can remember. He’s the best third baseman I’ve ever seen.”

No other Red Sox third baseman has won a Gold Glove. No Red Sox third baseman has hit more home runs than the 131 Malzone hit with the team or has had more than his 716 runs batted in.

At the end of his career, Malzone played one season as a reserve for the California Angels.

Frank James Malzone was born in the Bronx on Feb. 28, 1930, and grew up a Yankees fan. His father was an Italian immigrant who worked for the New York City water department.

In a 2009 interview cited on, Malzone recalled that he learned to play baseball by watching an older brother and sister play on a sandlot team.

“She handled herself well,” he said of his sister Mary. “Line-drive-type hitter. No power.”

Malzone played baseball at Samuel Gompers high school and began his professional career not long after his 18th birthday with a Red Sox minor league affiliate in Milford, Del. He lost most of the 1950 season to an ankle injury and was in the Army in 1952 and 1953.

He made his major league debut in September 1955 and had 115 plate appearances for the Sox in 1956 before becoming the starting third baseman the next year. Williams was finishing out his career, and by the time he retired after the 1960 season, Malzone was a team leader.

“When I first came to the big leagues in 1961, Frank was the guy who took me under his wing,” Yastrzemski said in a statement provided by the Red Sox. “I struggled when I first came up, and he took care of me and stayed with me. He was a real class guy, a very caring guy, and I owe him a lot.”

After his retirement as a player, Malzone worked for the Red Sox as a scout and instructor. He married Amy Gennerino, whom he met in 1949 while playing in Oneonta, N.Y, in 1951. She died in 2006. The Red Sox said Malzone was survived by four sons, Frank, Paul, John and Jim; a daughter, Anne O’Neill; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Edwin Mayer

Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 31, 2016

While surrounded by his loving family, native San Franciscan Edwin Mayer passed away peacefully.

Ed enjoyed a 23 year teaching career in the Laguna Salada School District in Pacifica. Among Ed's many accomplishments was
his Major League Baseball career with the Chicago Cubs. Ed had the honor to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in June 2014.

Ed is survived by Younga Hennessey, his partner of 21 years, three children Lynne Foster-Phillips, Laura Gardner, David Mayer,
eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, Ms. Hennessey's daughter Ruth Hennessey and her three children.

Ed was predeceased by his wife Carol Carlson and his wife Harriet Adelson.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Doctors Without Borders.

Former Mariners outfielder and broadcaster Dave Henderson passes away at age 57

By Ryan Divish
Seattle Times staff reporter
December 27, 2015 at 10:01 am PST

Those who met him didn’t call him Dave, David or Mr. Henderson. He preferred “Hendu.” That was the name that would elicit the easy, gap-toothed smile.

And now Dave Henderson is gone at the age of 57.

Henderson died at Harborview Hospital early Sunday morning after suffering a massive heart attack. Henderson had been dealing with kidney issues for the past few years and received a kidney transplant a month ago.

The Mariners drafted Henderson with the 26th pick in 1977 draft out of Dos Palos (Calif.) High School, where he was a standout baseball and football player. He was the first draft pick for Seattle’s Major League Baseball expansion franchise.

It was the start of productive professional career. He would go on to play 14 years in the big leagues with the Mariners, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals, appearing in 1,538 games and hitting .258 with 197 homers and 708 runs batted in. He was named to the 1991 American League All-Star team as a member of the A’s. His best years came in Oakland. From 1988 to 1991, Henderson hit .275 with a .795 on-base plus slugging percentage with 123 doubles, 84 homers and 322 RBI.

“On behalf of the Seattle Mariners, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to Chase and Trent and Nancy and to Dave’s many friends,” Mariners team president Kevin Mather said in a statement. “He was a devoted father to his two sons and always willing to help someone in need.

“Dave was one of the most popular Mariners in our history, but Dave was also one of the most popular player’s in Red Sox and A’s history. He had a special ability to connect with people, both inside the game and in the communities in which he lived. I never saw him at the ballpark, or on the golf course, without a big smile on his face.”

What people remember most about Henderson were his postseason heroics, particularly Game 5 of the 1986 AL Championship Series. Henderson and the Red Sox were facing elimination against the California Angels, down three games to one in Anaheim. In the ninth inning, with Boston down a run and two outs, Henderson hit a two-run homer off of Angels closer Donnie Moore on a 2-2 count. The Angels came back and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Henderson drove home the winning run in the top of the 11th for a 7-6 win. The Red Sox would go on to win the next two games and the series.

Henderson played in a total of 36 postseason games in his career, hitting .298 with a .946 on base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS), 10 doubles, a triple, seven homers and 20 RBI. He won a World Series with the A’s in 1989.

Blessed with a smooth voice and an easy smile, Henderson was never afraid of the television cameras or a reporter’s notebook. He loved to talk about baseball, his exploits and anything that he found entertaining. That carried over into his post-baseball career where he served as color analyst on the Mariners’ broadcasts from 1997 to 2006 alongside Dave Niehaus.

Henderson was very visible in the Puget Sound as an ambassador for baseball, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research into Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects his son, Chase. He was also one of the founders of Rick’s Toys For Kids, a charity which provides dozens of agencies and thousands of children who otherwise would not receive a gift Christmas presents each year with broadcaster Rick Rizzs.

Henderson is survived by his sons, Chase and Trent; his wife, Nancy’ and first wife, Loni.

Jim O'Toole, Reds Hall of Famer, passes away at 78

Dave Clark
December 27, 2015 1:17 a.m. EST

Jim O'Toole, a Reds Hall of Fame pitcher and fan favorite who helped the Reds to an appearance in the 1961 World Series, passed away at 78, according to the team.

Fellow Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench offered the following response: "I know people have admired a lot of former Reds. Joe Nuxhall is at the top of the list, but Jim O'Toole was to me the epitome of class any player has ever had! He always wore a smile and was represented by his family in the highest of esteem. He loved his Reds and the time he spent in the organization. He came to all the functions and brightened the room. For those that knew him, no words are needed. For those that didn't, no words are adequate. RIP. MY LOVE TO THE FAMILY"

O'Toole spent eight of his nine big-league seasons with the Reds after debuting with the team at age 21 in 1958. He went 19-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 1961 - when the Reds advanced to the World Series and lost to the Yankees - and finished 10th in National League MVP voting.

He was 94-81 with a 3.59 ERA in 255 games for Cincinnati.

O'Toole was an All-Star in 1963. In fact, he started the 1963 All-Star Game for the National League, on a roster that featured Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn. He allowed one earned run in two innings of work.

He finished 1964 with a career-best 2.66 ERA (with a 17-7 record) in 30 starts.

He was traded to the White Sox in 1967, and appeared in 15 games for Chicago before retiring.

He appeared often and signed autographs with Reds alumni at Redsfest and many other events for the team and Reds Hall of Fame.

George Burpo

Published in the Arizona Daily Star on December 24, 2015

George Burpo passed peacefully into Gods hands on December 20, 2015. Husband of his beloved deceased wife, Nancy, for 56 years; father of son, Rob of Albuquerque, New Mexico; granddaughter of Jennifer and grandson, Greg also of Albuquerque.

George was born June 19, 1922 in Jenkins, Kentucky. He attended grade school in Pikeville, KY and high school in Jenkins where he played on the football team and was also in the school band.

George began a career of professional baseball while still in high school by signing his first contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization in 1939. He was sent to Muskogee, Oklahoma that year. Other teams he played for were the Tucson Cowboys, where he pitched the first no hit game at High Corbett field in 1941, the Columbia, So. Carolina Reds, the Birmingham, Alabama Barons, the Syracuse Chiefs in addition to half a season with the parent Cincinnati Redleg club in 1946.

His baseball career was interrupted by serving three years in the United States Navy in the second World War and received an honorable discharge in December, 1945. He recently was honored with the World War 11 Medallion.

After retiring from baseball because of injuries, he spent five years with the J.C. Penny company before finishing a 32 year career with the world's largest manufacturer of business forms (MOORE), beginning in sales, supervision, and as District Manager in Tucson, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Tucson when he retired in 1985.

George and wife, Nancy, served as Junior High advisors at Valley Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale, where George also served as an elder in that church. While in Albuquerque, was active in church work at Immanuel Presbyterian Church including three years as an elder; George and Nancy joined the Desert Skies United Methodist Church in 1998.

George has been a member of Rotary clubs in Phoenix, Albuquerque and Tucson, serving as club president in the Catalina (Tucson) Rotary club in 1982-83. He loved all sports, especially baseball, football and basketball at the University of Arizona where he was a member of the Wildcat Club for many years.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Desert Skies United Methodist Church or the Catalina (Tucson) Rotary Foundation through Kathy Ramert, Club Treasurer at 7314 N. Casablanca Drive, Tucson, Arizona 85704.

Burial Services will be private.

Memorial Service will be conducted by Rev. Ed Denham at Desert Skies United Methodist Church at 3255 North Houghton Road on.

Arrangements by East Lawn Palms Mortuary, 5801 East Grant Road.

Hector Harold "Skinny" Brown
December 19th, 2015

Greensboro: Mr. Hector Harold "Skinny" Brown, 91, died Thursday, December 17, 2015 at Moses Cone memorial Hospital. A Memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, December 20, 2015 at Forbis and Dick, N. Elm Street Chapel, with Rev. Jim Epps officiating. Interment will be private.

Mr. Brown was born on December 11, 1924 in Greensboro, son of the late William Hamilton and Pearlie Chasen Brown. A Greensboro Senor High School graduate, he attended UNC-Chapel Hill before enlisting in the war. "Skinny" played in the major leagues for 14 years and was known for his knuckleball and control. He was inducted in to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

He was an active member of Presbyterian Church of Covenant for many years and a 32nd degree Mason. An avid golfer, he was a member of Starmount Country Club and part owner of McBane-Brown Heating and Air Conditioning. He was a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran of World War II. He was well-loved and respected by all who knew him, but most of all, he was proud of his family.

Survivors include his wife, Maxine Joyce Brown; two daughters, Suzanne White and husband Chuck and Lisa Moore and husband Bill all of Greensboro; four grandchildren, Ryan White, Blair White, Emily Tyler and Carrie Guthrie; two great-grandchildren, Ethan White and Olivia Ryan White.In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by four brothers and three sisters. The family will receive friends following the service at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Greensboro Urban Ministries, 305 W. Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27406.

Evelio Hernandez, 84, Cuban pitcher for the Washington Senators
December 19, 2015 5:58 PM MST

Evelio Hernandez, a Cuban-born pitcher for the Washington Senators in the 1950s, passed away Friday December 18, 2015 at his home in Miami, Florida, just days shy of his 85th birthday. The reporting of his death was confirmed by former Almendares teammate Cholly Naranjo.

Born December 24, 1930 in Guanabacoa, Cuba, the right-handed pitcher was signed into the Washington Senators organization in 1954 by the legendary scout Joe Cambria. It was during that winter that Hernandez had his first taste of winter ball, pitching two games for Almendares en route to a Cuban League Championship.

Hernandez used the lesson he learned from the veterans during the 1954-55 winter ball season to amass 23 victories in 1955 for Washington’s Class C team in Hobbs, New Mexico. This earned him a promotion to Class A Charlotte in 1956. His domination on the mound continued, and after going 18-4, the Senators called him up in September. He pitched four games, earning his first major league win with a complete game 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on September 29, 1956.

He returned to the Senators in 1957 in a more prominent role as he made the club out of spring training. He pitched in 14 games without a decision before being sent to the minors in June. While he would pitch professionally until 1967, he never returned to the major leagues. He finished his career in Washington with a 1-1 record and a 4.45 ERA in 18 games.

Hernandez found success in the Mexican League, pitching for Monterrey from 1959-1967. On August 10, 1966, he threw what was at the time only the 11th no-hitter in the league’s history, blanking Puebla 2-0. It was a banner season for Hernandez, who pitched in 40 games that season, starting 31 and completing 15.

After his baseball career was over, Hernandez passed on his tremendous knowledge and experience to the youth of Miami, serving as a high school baseball coach for over 20 years. As the head coach at Loyola Miami, he led the baseball team to five Class A state championships during his tenure.

Longtime Daily News sports writer Phil Pepe dead at 80

By Mark Feinsand, Bill Price
The New York Daily News
Monday, December 14, 2015, 1:05 AM

Phil Pepe, a longtime Daily News Yankee beat writer whose career covering New York sports spanned 50 years, died Sunday at the age of 80 at his home in Englewood, N.J., a family member told The News.

Pepe covered the Yankees for The News from 1968-1981 and wrote the lead game story for every World Series from 1969-81. In 1982, he succeeded Dick Young as The News’ sports columnist.

He left the paper in 1989 for WCBS radio, where he did morning sports — including his signature “Pep Talk” — for more than 15 years. He was also the director of broadcasting/radio analyst for the Class-A New Jersey Cardinals of the New York-Penn League for 12 seasons from 1994-2005.

He was the executive director of the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the past 21 years, having also served as the chapter’s chairman in 1975 and 1976. He attended every BBWAA awards dinner since 1962 and ran the event for more than two decades.

“He was a mentor to a lot of writers of my generation, he was a guy you could always go to,” said Jack O’Connell, the secretary treasurer of the BBWAA and a former News writer. “I worked with him at The News and he was somebody a lot of us looked up to.”

After graduating from St. John’s, Pepe joined the New York World Telegram and Sun in 1957 and became the paper’s Yankee beat writer in 1961, the same year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record.

“There was a time, in another time in New York, when whatever had happened the day before or the night before with the Yankees didn’t become official until you picked up the Daily News and read Phil Pepe,” said columnist Mike Lupica. “Phil was more than just the Yankees across his long career at The News, and at the World Telegram & Sun before that, and with all the books he wrote about baseball. But in memory, he’s at the old Yankee Stadium still, sitting with Yogi, telling stories about Mantle and Maris, getting ready to write a game story about the Yankees of George and Billy and Reggie.”

Pepe stayed at the Telegram until it folded in 1966, and then wrote scripts for ABC radio with Howard Cosell.

He joined the Daily News in 1968 and, according to a book by baseball historian Marty Appel, Pepe wrote the lead story on every World Series game from 1969-1981, covered most of Muhammad Ali’s championship fights, was the beat writer for the Knicks during their championship years and covered the first Super Bowl and three Olympics.

In addition to his career in newspapers and radio, Pepe was a prolific author, writing close to 50 books with some of sports’ biggest names. He co-wrote Bob Gibson’s autobiography, and wrote books with Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Ken Griffey Sr., Jim Kaat, Gary Carter, Bud Harrelson, Howie Rose and Tim McCarver. His last book was in 2013 on the Yankees’ Core Four.

“He’s the best game story writer I ever worked with,” said Bob Decker, assistant sports editor at The News from 1974-1989. “Nobody could do it better than Pepe. He wouldn’t need any quotes and still turn out a great baseball story.”

Decker recalled the day Thurman Munson died and Pepe, a friend of Munson’s, had to come into the office to do a column for The News.

“He comes in, Munson and him were very good friends. He comes in all upset, sits there with his head in his hands,” said Decker. “I told him ‘write what you feel.’ He wrote a magnificent column.”

“He was a mentor to me and a giant among baseball writers who never got his true credit,” said Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Madden, who succeeded Pepe as The News’ Yankee beat writer. “He is going to be sorely missed by the New York chapter of baseball writers.”

Pepe is survived by daughter Jayne and her husband Steve Platts; sons David, Jim and John; daughters-in-law Maria and Sherry Pepe; and five grandchildren.

Gus Gil
December 10, 2015

Tomas Gustavo Gil Guillen was born in Caracas, Venezuela April 19, 1939. Gus was a Second Baseman for the Major League Baseball. Where he played for the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Pilots and Milwaukee Brewers. In four seasons from 1967 to 1971.

In 1970 Gus help win the Caribbean Series. He hit .387 scored 4 runs and a series leading 7 RBI to help the Magallanes win the series. Which earn him a spot on the Series All Star Team.

After his playing Career he served as Manager for the Venezuelan Winter League in 1979. Gus also managed the Danville Suns in 1982. The Bluefield Orioles in 1990 and 1991.

In 1995 Gus was ask By La Raza making him 1 out of 5 invitees. He spoke on behalf of all the Hispanic in the USA on representing sports Accomplishment.

Gus was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 located in Valencia,Venezuela.

He was a loving Husband,Father, Brother, Brother in Law and Uncle. A Great Mentor to Many.

He is survived by his Loving Wife Phyllis Gil of 47 years. Also Leaving behind his Son Tomas Gustavo Gil Jr. And Daughter in Law Carrie Gil.

Robert "Bob" Dustal
September 28, 1935 - November 30, 2015
December 3, 2015

Robert (Bob) Dustal’s obituary:
Born 9-28-35 in Sayreville NJ, graduated from South River High School in 1955.

Played, coached, and managed in the Detroit Tigers organization from 1955-1970, pitching in the major leagues in 1963. After his baseball career he owned this own plumbing, irrigation, and lawn maintenance company. Wanting to try something new he bought and operated a restaurant in the Florida Keys after several years he returned to Lakeland and worked for the city for 15 years, retiring in 2007.

Bob loved fishing, bowling, restoring Cadillac El Dorados, going on cruises, but what he loved best was making people laugh with his corny jokes. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Anne and Mike, his brother Alan, and grandson Blake. Survived by Pat, his wife of 58 years, sons Bobby (Jackie), Rick (Lisa), Kevin, brothers, Andrew and Michael 10 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.

There will be a Viewing on Thursday December 3, 2015 from 2-3 PM with a Funeral Service to follow at 3 PM at Central Florida Casket Store & Funeral Chapel, 2090 E Edgewood Drive.

Exlanzador dies Ramon "Pintacora" Los Santos
November 29, 2015 24:50 pm

Ramon "Pintacora" de los Santos died at age 66.

Santo Domingo.- died early on Sunday, the 66-year-old left-hander Ramon exlanzador "Pintacora" of the Saints.

De los Santos was recovering after suffering a brain vascular accident with massive hemorrhage on Friday November 7 in his sleep at home.

Internal It was from that day in the National Polyclinic Center in Guayubín Olivo street of Santo Domingo.

The lefty capitaleño participated in the Dominican Winter League with Escogido, Estrellas Orientales and Licey equipment.

The Licey notes that De los Santos began the practice of baseball at age 9, and then the boy had a successful career as a pitcher, which was the activity he preferred. In the beginning he joined the team, "Sepulveda Hardware" and then joined the ninth "Warehouses Charity."

Now, as a top-level player, he played with "Navy", where he worked hard, doing a good job. For that time the military players you are not taking into account, but Ramón continued his career to settle in professional baseball.

In March 1970, the Dominican Republic national baseball team traveled to Panama to compete in the XI Central American and Caribbean Games and the 4th of that month, Dominicans gave the big surprise in the tournament ball, beating the Cuba ninth with a score of 7 x 4.

The left-hander Ramon de los Santos, who dominated with great control to the strong Cuban battery, victory, striking out eight batters and giving scored only one walk.

"Pintacora" the glory of defeating the team of Cuba, which was then the world champion was. After that great performance against the blunderbuss of Cuba, the president of that nation, Fidel Castro, was interested in the young Dominican pitcher and congratulated him.

Pintacora Dominican won 4 games and won silver medal.

From the 1970 Central American Games, to Pintacora she will be respected, including Fidel Castro, who saw a prodigious Creole lefty, which frightened the battery Greater Antilles.

He was also a member of the Navy team Guerra.En the Central American and Caribbean Panama City Games in 1970.
He was then signed by the Houston Astros in 1972 and two years later played for that team as a pitcher.

De los Santos was called to Houston in August 1974 after a dominating hitters in the Double-A Southern League season.

He pitched in 42 games for the Columbus Astros, struck out 73 batters in 76 entries and only allowed 11 earned runs. He went 7-4 with an 1.30 ERA.

The August 21, 1974, the Saints made his major league debut in relief against the New York Mets in the Astrodome.

Retired the first batter he faced, right fielder Rusty Staub, then struck out to first baseman John Milner to complete 6. Input In 2.2 innings that night, allowed two hits, three walks and two unearned runs, and the Astros lost 10 -2.

De los Santos won his first and only major league game a week later at Shea Stadium.

Retired the Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, the last batter in the bottom of the ninth, and then his teammate Cliff Johnson homered in the top of the tenth inning to win the game 3-2.

In 12 games I was 1-1 and finished five games. In 12.1 innings he gave up three earned runs for a 2.19 ERA.

His best moments of his long career as a pitcher lived in the Dominican Republic baseball where he participated in 18 seasons with the Leones del Escogido, Estrellas Orientales and Tigres del Licey.

Brand had 28 wins and 19 defeats saved 35 games with a 3.38 ERA, numbers that made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the eighties in the local championship.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame Sports Dominicano in 2001.

Willie Royster

The Radzieta Funeral Home
November 25, 2015

ROYSTER, WILLIE A., 61, of Ocean View, NJ, passed away at home on Monday, November 23, 2015. Born in Clarksville, VA to Arthur Lee and Hilda G. Boxley Royster, he moved to Cape May County 27 years ago from Washington, D.C. He was an Elder of Calvary Baptist Church, where he also served as a teacher for the Adult Sunday School. He worked as the Director of Facilities for the Salem County Board of Education.

Willie was a catcher for the Baltimore Orioles organization. He was a member of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni and served as a Board Member. He liked to golf and especially ride his Harley.

Willie is survived by his wife of 26 years, Kimberly K. Royster; his children, Kimberly Sims, Rachael Royster, and Isaac Royster; his grandchildren, Darren Smith and Kimmya Sims; his mother, Hilda Lampkins; and his sisters, Andre White, Lynn Miller, and Ruth Hackney.

Memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at the Calvary Baptist Church, 2373 Route 9, Ocean View. Interment will be in Calvary Baptist Cemetery.

Ken Johnson, Only Loser of 9-Inning No-Hitter, Dies at 82

By Bruce Weber
The New York Times
November. 23, 2015

Baseball, that statistics-mad enterprise, has served up its share of rare performances by individual players. Fifteen fielders have turned unassisted triple plays. Thirteen hitters have hit two grand slams in a game, including one, Fernando Tatis, who in April 1999 did so in the same inning, which may be the game’s most remarkable anomaly, though Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees against the Dodgers in 1956 — the only no-hitter thrown in the World Series — is better known and better remembered.

No-hitters themselves are not all that uncommon. Almost 300 of them have been pitched in the big leagues, and even their famous subset, perfect games, has 23 entries.

Five times in the major leagues’ modern era, a team has given up no hits and failed to win. But in perhaps the game’s starkest good-news-bad-news case, only once did a single pitcher complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it. The man who owns that two-faced distinction, Ken Johnson, whose otherwise middling 13-year career in the major leagues included stints with seven teams, died on Saturday in Pineville, La. He was 82.

His son Kenneth Jr. said that his father had been bedridden with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and that he died after contracting a kidney infection.

For three seasons in the heart of his career, 1965-67, pitching for the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves (the franchise moved after the 1965 season), Johnson was an effective starter, going 43-27 with 26 complete games. It was earlier, however, on April 23, 1964, that while pitching for Houston (then known as the Colt .45s) against the Cincinnati Reds, he claimed his spot in history.

A right-hander who featured a knuckleball to go along with a fastball and breaking pitches — “He always said it was the knuckler that got him to the big leagues,” his son said — Johnson pitched a brilliant game, walking just two, striking out nine and mowing down a lineup that included two All-Stars, catcher Johnny Edwards and shortstop Leo Cardenas; a future Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson; and the eventual career hits leader, Pete Rose.

The Reds hit only three balls out of the infield. In the top of the ninth inning, however, Johnson helped author his own undoing; with one out, he fielded a bunt by Rose and threw wildly to first, allowing Rose to reach second. Rose scored two batters later on an error by second baseman Nellie Fox.

Joe Nuxhall, who allowed five hits for Cincinnati, completed his shutout. Nuxhall was himself the answer to a baseball trivia question. In June 1944, more than a month before turning 16, he pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Reds against the Cardinals, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in a major league game.
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Kenneth Travis Johnson Sr. was born in West Palm Beach, Fla., on June 16, 1933. His father, Ernest, was a bank teller; his mother, the former Marjorie Lois Travis, was a waitress.

Young Ken played baseball in high school, joined the Army and later spent a year at the University of South Carolina. There he met Joanna Lynn Ergle, known as Lynn, whom he married in 1955.

She survives him. In addition to their son Kenneth Jr., a medical doctor, he is survived by a second son, Russell; a daughter, Janet Lynne Johnson; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Johnson was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics before the 1952 season and played in their minor league system, advancing to the majors (by then the team had moved to Kansas City) in 1958.

In addition to Houston and the Braves, Johnson pitched for Cincinnati, for whom he pitched two-thirds of an inning in the 1961 World Series; the Yankees; the Cubs; and the Montreal Expos. Over all, he pitched in 334 regular-season games with a record of 91-106 and an earned run average of 3.46.

After his retirement, he worked as a community service coordinator at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida and later as a baseball coach at Louisiana College in Pineville.

Johnson’s no-hitter deserves mention with other fateful performances that at one point led the New York Times columnist Arthur Daley to refer to the pitcher’s mound as “Heartbreak Hill.” In Chicago in 1917, Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds, pitching against each other, combined for a nine-inning double no-hitter before Vaughn gave up two hits in the 10th and the Reds won. In 1959, in perhaps the greatest game ever pitched, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves before losing the game in the 13th.

“I pitched the best game of my life and still lost,” Johnson said after he pitched the best game of his life. “A hell of a way to get into the record books.”
Correction: November 25, 2015

An obituary on Tuesday about Ken Johnson, the only player in major league history to pitch a nine-inning no-hitter and lose, erroneously attributed a distinction in some editions to Pete Rose, who scored the winning run for the Cincinnati Reds in the game against Johnson. He is not in the Hall of Fame.

Carmelo Castillo, former baseball player dies at age 57
Monday, November 16, 2015 19:09pm

The Dominican expelotero MLB Carmelo Castillo died last night due to problems related to the heart.

According to several reports, Castillo, who played in the majors for 10 years, seven with the Cleveland Indians and three Twins, died while being taken to the Abel González clinic in this city. He was 57 years.

In the Dominican baseball, he debuted in the 1979-80 season with the Lions of the Chosen participating in a meeting with the team and played continuously for seven straight seasons.

He went to the Licey Tigers for a season. His last campaign in Creole ball 1989-90 militated with the Cibao Eagles.

He was born on June 8, 1958 in San Francisco de Macoris. Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979, Castillo major league debut on July 17, 1982 with the Indians and their last game was May 9, 1991 with the Twins, also serving as a pinch hitter.

He finished with .252, 383 hits, 197 RBIs, 190 runs scored, 71 doubles, 8 triples, 55 homers, 291 strikeouts, 90 walks, 15 stolen bases, put out stealing 11 times, 1519 times in 631 at-bats games played.

Friends regret what happened

"He was a good friend and a good person, he just went a man of baseball," said expelotero and avowed friend, Bernardo Tatis.

Social media echo of the death of former player were also made.

He recalled that had been friends since the beginning of both baseball and even practiced together on the stage of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. "We were a small group, Moises Alou, Jose Rijo, Junior Noboa, Cuqui Acevedo," Tatis said.

Several years ago, Castillo had surgery of the liver.

His athleticism could not deploy says his former teammate team in the majors, Junior Noboa. "Carmelo was my first roommate in baseball when I was up to me with the Cleveland team," he recalls. "He was a player with exceptional physical condition with the five tools" but "unfortunately the injuries did not allow him to be an everyday player."

MLB, Castillo played 10 seasons, seven of them with the Cleveland Indians and the remaining three with the Minnesota Twins. Years after his retirement, he was the hitting coach Tigres del Licey.

Former Braves, Angels pitcher Hanson dies at 29

Right-hander played for Atlanta from 2009-12 and Los Angeles in 2013

By Mark Bowman / | 11/10/2015 | 12:59 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Many members of the baseball world are understandably reacting to Tommy Hanson's premature death with shock and sadness. The former Major Leaguer, who pitched for the Braves and Angels, was just 29.

A Braves representative confirmed that some of Hanson's former teammates were near Hanson when he passed away at Atlanta's Piedmont Hospital late Monday night. Multiple sources told WSB-TV in Atlanta that Hanson suffered catastrophic organ failure. A source said he had difficulty breathing early Sunday morning and was taken to a hospital.

"Devastated" was the simple and fitting response one of Hanson's closest friends provided as he attempted to deal with the grief early Tuesday morning. This seemed to be a common sentiment among the many who had the pleasure of knowing the big redheaded right-hander, who possessed a bushy beard and a kind heart.

Among those expressing their sorrow was Andrelton Simmons, who tweeted, "Very sad to hear about Tommy Hanson. Wish his family and close friends a lot of strength. He was a really nice dude. :/"

Braves president John Schuerholz said in a statement on Tuesday the team was "incredibly saddened":

"He was a favorite in the clubhouse and with our staff and he will truly be missed by everyone in Braves Country. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family, former teammates and friends."

Former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, now with the Padres, tweeted about Hanson on Tuesday: "Tommy Hanson was a great person, it hurts my heart to see him go so soon. My prayers and thoughts are with the Hanson family."

Also taking to Twitter was Oakland's Josh Reddick, who wrote, "Thoughts and prayers to the family of Tommy Hanson. Great guy and competitor. RIP"

Hanson established himself as baseball's top pitching prospect after he dominated as the 2008 MVP of the Arizona Fall League. He made his much-anticipated Major League debut the following June and ended his first month at the big league level by winning four consecutive starts, including two straight against the Yankees and Red Sox at Turner Field.

After producing a 3.28 ERA over the 77 starts made during his first three Major League seasons, Hanson was hampered by a shoulder and back ailment that altered his career. The Braves traded him to the Angels after the 2012 season, and he did not pitch at the Major League level after making 15 appearances for the 2013 Angels.

He spent the past two seasons pitching in the White Sox and Giants organizations. Though he finished this past season with a 5.60 ERA in 11 appearances for Triple-A Sacramento, he went 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings in his last four starts.

"The Giants are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Tommy Hanson," the Giants said in a statement. "Tommy was a great talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the many people who were lucky enough to know him. "

Hanson had a 49-35 record, 3.80 ERA and 648 strikeouts in his Major League career.

Frederick Cyril Besana
April 5, 1930 - November 7, 2015

Lambert Funeral Home
November 8, 2015

Frederick Cyril Besana passed away in Roseville on Saturday November 7th at the age of 85. Born in Lincoln, California on April 5th, 1930 to Cedo and Clara Besana, Fred remained a Northern California guy his entire life.

He was preceded in death by his parents and wife of 55 years, Sylvia. He is survived by his son Fred (Shelly), grandson Adam, and brother Keven (Barbara).

Fred was an avid hunter and fisherman from the time of his youth in Lincoln until his early 80's. As a 57 year member of Sierra View Country Club in Roseville, golf played a large and enjoyable part of his life.

Fred graduated from Lincoln High School and attended Placer (Sierra) Junior College. After serving in the US Air Force for 4 years, Fred embarked on a 12 year baseball career caped by playing with the Baltimore Orioles in 1956.

After his baseball career ended, Fred finished his college degree at Sacramento State. He went on to get both his teaching credential and Master's Degree at Sac State as well. He started his teaching and baseball coaching career at Roseville High School before going to Oakmont when that campus open in 1966. He left for American River Junior College in 1968 to teach and coach baseball and remained there until his retirement in 1990.

Services will be held Friday, November 13th at 10am, Lambert's Funeral home at 400 Douglas Blvd in Roseville. Services will be preceded by a viewing at 9am. Burial will be private but a reception will immediately follow the services at Sierra View Country Club.

Norm Siebern, All-Star Who Left Yankees in Trade for Maris, Dies at 82

By Bruce Weber
The New York Times
November 3, 2015

Norm Siebern, a solid outfielder and first baseman who was an American League All-Star three times and played in three World Series, but who may be best known as part of the trade that brought Roger Maris to the Yankees, died on Friday in Naples, Fla. He was 82.

The Yankees confirmed the death without giving a cause.

Siebern, a left-handed hitter with extra-base power — he hit as many as 36 doubles and 25 homers in a season — was seen as a potential star when he arrived in the big leagues with the Yankees in 1956, a promising candidate to fill the team’s hole in left field and play alongside Mickey Mantle in center and Hank Bauer in right.

Siebern had one at-bat in the World Series that year as the Yankees beat the Dodgers, but an injury to his knee and shoulder, sustained when he ran into a wall chasing a fly ball, slowed his progress. He spent all of 1957 in the minor leagues, playing for the Yankees’ Class AAA farm team, the Denver Bears, and was named minor league player of the year by The Sporting News.

Promoted to the Yankees again the next spring, he became the regular left fielder and hit .300. Although he won a Gold Glove, the only one of his career, his fielding in the 1958 World Series against the Milwaukee Braves proved costly.

Left field in October in the old Yankee Stadium could be tough duty: the catcher (and Yankee teammate of Siebern’s) Yogi Berra, who died in September and who played left on occasion, once famously observed about the afternoon shadows that “it gets late early” there. In Game 4 of the Series, with the Yankees down two games to one, Siebern lost a handful of fly balls in the sun or in the lights, which had been turned on to accommodate television. Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his misplays had a role in all three runs of a 3-0 Braves victory.

Manager Casey Stengel benched him for the rest of the Series, which the Yankees came back to win. The next year, Siebern played fewer games, his average slid to .271, and in December 1959 he became a key figure in one of baseball’s most consequential trades.

The Yankees had made such a habit of bolstering their roster by trading for Kansas City’s better players that the Athletics were often referred to as the Yankees’ farm team, and in 1959 the Yankees sent Siebern; the aging Bauer; Don Larsen, who had pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series but whose career was on the downslope; and the young first baseman Marv Throneberry (who would later become known for his goofy play with the expansion-era Mets) to Kansas City for Maris, then just 25, and two inconsequential players — first baseman Kent Hadley, who didn’t last the 1960 season, and infielder Joe DeMaestri, whose major league career ended in 1961.

Maris went on to hit 100 home runs over the course of the 1960 and 1961 seasons, including a then-record 61 in 1961, and won the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award both times as the Yankees won the league pennant both years, and the World Series in 1961.

Kansas City remained a dreadful team, never finishing higher than eighth in the A.L. in the four seasons Siebern spent with the team. But Siebern was a fine player for them, averaging close to 20 home runs a season, and in 1962, his best year, he drove in 117 runs and hit .308, with an on-base percentage of .412.

In 1964, he was traded to Baltimore, where Bauer was the manager, and before retiring in 1968 he also played for the California Angels, the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox, with whom he played in the World Series against the Cardinals in 1967. The Sox lost in seven games. For his career, Siebern hit .272 with 132 home runs.

Norman Leroy Siebern was born in or near St. Louis on July 26, 1933. He was an editor of his high school newspaper and preferred basketball to baseball, but according to a biographical sketch on the website, he was spotted by a Yankees scout when he was just 15, and the team signed him as soon as he finished high school.

For a time he attended Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) and played basketball there. One of his teammates was Jerry Lumpe, who also went on to play for the Yankees and the Athletics. Siebern played in the minor leagues and spent two years in the Army before joining the Yankees.

Baseball-Reference reported that for a time after his retirement from baseball, Siebern owned an insurance agency in Florida, and that he was married and had three daughters. Information about survivors was not immediately available.

Former Red Eddie Milner dies at 60

By David Jablonski
The Dayton Daily News
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 9:31 a.m.

CINCINNATI — Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Eddie Milner died Monday at 60, the Reds announced Wednesday.

Milner, a Columbus native who played two years in college at Central State University, played in 804 games for the Reds between 1980 and 1988. He was a 21st-round selection in the 1976 draft. He was a .253 career hitter with 42 home runs, 145 stolen bases and 195 RBIs.

“I’m so sad about the passing of my great friend and teammate,” former Reds pitcher Tom Hume wrote on Twitter. “A true God fearing man. So committed to the game of baseball. I will miss the big smile he always had. No matter if he was happy or sad, (you) never knew.”

Milner hit a career-best .268 in 1982. He hit .261 with 41 stolen bases in 1983. He hit a career-best 15 home runs in 1986 with a .259 average.

Milner was traded to the Giants in 1987 but returned to the Reds as a free agent in 1988.

John Tsitouris

Published in The Charlotte Observer on October 25, 2015

Monroe - John Tsitouris, born May 5th, 1936, went home to be with his Heavenly Father early Thursday morning, October 22, 2015, at CMC-Union. He was surrounded by his family.

He was the son of the late Philip and Verla Tsitouris. He was born and raised in Monroe, NC. Johny attended Benton Heights High School where he met his sweetheart of 56 years, Dottie. His senior year, 1954, he signed to play professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers. He pitched and won his first professional game at the age of 21. From there, he went on to have an incredible career.

In 1964, he pitched a 1-0 shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies that started their epic collapse. The best season of his career was in 1963, when he went 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA for the Reds. He finished the year with 145 strikeouts second highest on the pitching staff. He started 21 games, had eight complete games, and three shutouts. He finished the 1963 season with back to back complete game shutouts against the Cardinals. He still holds the Sally League ERA record of 1.51.

He stepped away from his professional baseball career in 1968 to permanently move back to Monroe where he would live a comfortable life with his wife Dorothy and their five children. He also served in the military, like most men of his era. He was a fun loving man, with a heart of gold, and he will be missed by many, especially his family.

He is survived by his wife Dorothy of the home their five children, sons Philip of Monroe, Eric and wife Julia of Monroe, daughter Robin Smith and husband Garry of Charlotte, daughter Sandy Conley and husband RC of Nellysford, VA, and son Marc of Monroe; his nine grandchildren, Johnny Tsitouris, Brooke Smith, Brooks Conley, Tori Tsitouris, Hunter Tsitouris, Abby Conley, Chase Smith, Emry Tsitouris and Gracie Tsitouris; one great-grandchild, Daniel Tsitouris; his siblings, Georgia Brooks of North Myrtle Beach, SC, Ernest Tsitouris and wife Sue of Monroe, Sylvia Belk and husband Don of Matthews, Steve Tsitouris and wife Patsy Troutman, and many loving nieces and nephews.

He was also preceded in death by his sister, Rachel Biggers and brothers-in-law, Harry Biggers and Charles Brooks. He loved Jesus and spent every night reading God's Word, loved to hunt and fish, but his favorite past-time was watching his grandchildren play in their sporting events. He was a humble, quiet and confident man. He took care of his family and we are proud to call him Dad and PawPaw. He achieved so much in the sports world as a Major League Baseball Pitcher. Yet when one of the doctors at the hospital asked him what he was most proud of, his answer was his family.

The family will receive friends at McEwen Funeral Home on Sunday, October 25, 2015, from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. The service to celebrate Johny's life will be held in the McEwen Colonial Chapel on Monday, October 26, 2015, at 3:00pm, conducted by the Rev. Paul Saleeby. A burial service will follow in Lakeland Memorial Park.

Carlos “Bimbo” Antonio Diaz Diaz Jr.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
October 17th, 2015

Carlos "Bimbo" Antonio Diaz Jr. 57, of Kailua, Hawaii passed away on Monday, September 28, 2015. He was born on January 7, 1958 in Honolulu to Carlos Antonio Diaz Diaz and Cecilia Rodrigues.

He was a senior driver with Pacific Courier for 13 years and a major league baseball player.

He is survived by wife, Tracy Iwamoto-Diaz; son, Cory Diaz; daughters, Kari Diaz-Ayat and Erica Diaz; sons; Bryce and Vic Miyahira; daughter, Megen Miyahira; brothers, John , Dennis, Frank, Richard, Delbert and Darryl Diaz; sisters, Matilda, Emelia, and Lori; six grandchildren.

Visitation: 10:30 11:30 a.m. on Monday, October 19, 2015 at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary Chapel; Service to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Dean Chance, Cy Young Award Winner and Yankees Nemesis, Dies at 74

By Bruce Weberoct
The New York Times
October 12, 2015

Dean Chance, a right-hander for five major league teams whose Cy Young Award-winning year, 1964, ranks among the great season-long performances in the history of the game, died on Sunday at his home in New Pittsburg, Ohio. He was 74.

The cause was a heart attack, his son, Brett, said.

A loose-limbed — and occasionally loose-lipped — farm boy with a variety of pitches and an unusual delivery that involved turning his back on the hitter until shortly before he released the ball, Chance pitched 11 seasons in the big leagues, twice winning 20 games and enjoying special success against the Yankees, a team he beat 18 times.

“Every time I see his name on a lineup card,” Mickey Mantle once told the sportswriter Maury Allen about Chance, “I feel like throwing up.”

Chance arrived in the majors in 1961, pitching in five games for the Los Angeles Angels at the tail end of the inaugural season of a franchise later known as the California Angels and now as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He had mixed success in his first two full seasons, but in 1964 he emerged as dominant.

Although his season started slowly — he was beleaguered by a finger blister — he went 15-4 after July 1 and 20-9 over all, including 11 shutouts, five of them in games the Angels won by 1-0. The Yankees, who were American League champions that year, lost only 63 games, four of them to Chance, who shut them out three times; in a fifth game against them, he pitched 14 scoreless innings before a reliever lost the game in the 15th.

In 50 innings against the Yankees, he gave up 14 hits and one run — a homer by Mantle — for an earned run average of 0.18. Against the whole league for the whole season, his E.R.A. was 1.65, still the second-best figure in the American League (behind Luis Tiant’s 1.60 in 1968) in more than 70 years.

For good measure, Chance also led the league in complete games and innings pitched.

At the time, the Cy Young Award was given to the best pitcher in the major leagues — since 1967, the American and National Leagues have each awarded a Cy Young — and at 23, Chance was the youngest pitcher ever to receive it. (In the dual-award era, younger pitchers have won, including Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers in 1981 and Dwight Gooden of the Mets in 1985.)

Wilmer Dean Chance was born on June 1, 1941, in Wooster, Ohio. His parents, Wilmer Chance and the former Florence Beck, were farmers.

A stellar schoolboy athlete, young Dean played on state basketball and baseball championship teams for Northwestern High School in West Salem and reportedly won 51 of 52 decisions as a pitcher, including 18 no-hitters. Originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles, he was chosen by the Washington Senators in the 1960 American League expansion draft, then traded to the Angels.

The Angels traded Chance to Minnesota after a subpar season in 1966, and he won 36 games for the Twins over the next two seasons, including 20 in 1967, when he pitched two no-hitters in August (one was a rain-shortened five innings), started the All-Star Game for the American League and won the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, given by The Sporting News.

He finished his career playing briefly with Cleveland, the Mets and the Detroit Tigers. In all, he won 128 games and lost 115, with a career E.R.A. of 2.92.

A marriage, to Judy Larson, ended in divorce. In addition to his son, he is survived by a sister, Janet Connelly, and two granddaughters.

Besides his pitching, Chance was a baseball notable for other reasons. For one thing, he may have been the worst hitter ever to play in the big leagues; in 1966 he went 2 for 76, an .026 average, and for his career he hit .066, the lowest figure for any player with at least 300 plate appearances; in 662 official at-bats, he struck out 420 times.

He was also known as a good-time Charlie who served as a wingman for one of the game’s legendary night prowlers and ladies’ men, the pitcher Bo Belinsky.

After retiring from baseball, Chance worked at a number of jobs, including boxing promoter (he managed the heavyweight Earnie Shavers and was president of the International Boxing Association) and carnival barker.

He wasn’t shy. The Angels inducted Chance into the franchise Hall of Fame this year. In his speech, he graciously acknowledged the second baseman Bobby Knoop for making a fielding play that saved his 20th victory in 1964. That was a far cry from the young Dean Chance, who, before the 1965 season, suggested to The Saturday Evening Post that it call its article about him “The Most Exciting Pitcher Since Bobby Feller.”

“My God,” he said to The Post, “you could go back further and call your story ‘The Most Exciting Pitcher Since Dizzy Dean.’ ”

And he added: “Fifty thousand seen me at the All-Star game last year, and I was the best damn pitcher out there. You could call the story ‘From Rags to Riches.’ Or how’s this? ‘The Greatest Year Ever!’ ”

Ronald Garry Hancock
January 23, 1954 ~ October 10, 2015
October 14, 2015

Ronald Garry Hancock passed into the arms of his loving Savior on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

Garry had an ironclad memory for the details and names of all he met because he cared about everyone unconditionally. His life story was unique and full of adventure. He truly was a “bigger than life” kind of guy.

Garry had many affectionate nicknames, but the one he cherished was “The Mayor” (of Buckhorn). He could tell story after story and make you laugh and love life. Although Garry was blessed to make and keep friends, he cherished his family the most. He was always so proud of them and made decisions with them in mind. He was a man of influence because he modeled kindness, generosity and service to others.

Garry was pre-deceased by his son, Justin Hancock. He leaves behind his wife of 41 years, Kathy; his daughter, Courtney (Mitchell); granddaughter, Charley; sister, Karen (Pat); brother, Terry (Jeana); as well as his beloved extended family members with whom he shared many good times over the years (in-laws, nephews, niece, great nephews, great nieces and countless cousins).

We will all miss him greatly and never forget the spice he added to our lives.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2015, at Bell Shoals Baptist Church (Worship Center) beginning with family visitation at 10:00 A.M., service at 11:00 A.M. with interment following at Serenity Meadows, Riverview, FL.

In lieu of flowers, we would appreciate any donations made in Garry’s honor to Moffitt Cancer Center.

Harold Schacker

April 6, 1925 - October 2, 2015

Boza & Roel Funeral Home
October 5, 2015

Harold Schacker went to heaven on October 2, 2015 at age 90, leaving behind his wife Martha and their three children Kerri Atkins, Brian and Dale Schacker and their wives and grandchildren Kaila and Luke.

Harold served his country in the military during World War II and then met Martha while playing professional baseball. Harold played throughout North and Central America and made it to the majors with the Boston Braves. Later he coached youth baseball teams in New York and Florida.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Harold moved his family to Florida where he secured a US Post Office job until retirement.

Harold loved his home and family and lived in Tampa for over 50 years. He was an avid supporter of the Rays, Lightning and Buccaneers. His parents Rebecca and Samuel raised three boys in Brooklyn during the depression era, and now have relatives across the United States.

We miss and love you and look forward to seeing you again and hope there's a baseball team in heaven : )

Former major-league catcher Cal Neeman dies

Rick Hummel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 02, 2015 11:15 pm

Former major-league catcher Cal Neeman, a Valmeyer native, died Thursday at his home in Lake Saint Louis. He was 86.

Neeman, originally signed by the New York Yankees, played seven seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators. His best season was his rookie year with the Cubs in 1957 when he hit .258 with 10 homers and 39 runs batted in as their regular catcher. Neeman hit 12 homers, drove in 29 runs and batted .259 for the Cubs in 1958.

Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Pitman Funeral Home in Wentzville. The funeral is Monday at 10 a.m. at Living Lord Lutheran church in Lake Saint Louis.

Thomas H. Kelley

January 5, 1944-September 25, 2015

Published in The Sun News on September 28, 2015

Thomas H. Kelley, 71 passed away September 25, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, SC. He was born January 5, 1944 in Manchester, CT a son of the late George and Harriet Berry Kelley.

Thomas was a Major League Baseball player with the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and ended his career with the New York Mets. After his baseball career ended he worked for UPS for fifteen years retiring as a center manager. He moved to Myrtle Beach after his retirement so he could play as much golf as possible.

Survivors include his loving wife, Diane M. Kelley of North Myrtle Beach, SC; a son, Michael Kurtz of Roanoke, VA; a sister, Carol Dixon (Harry) of Salinas, CA; two brothers, Michael J. Kelley (Evelyn) of Bloomfield, CT and George Kelley (Marie) of Enfield, CT; a grandchild, Jordan Kurtz of Roanoke, VA; a sister-in-law, Donna Merusi (Jim) of Rochester, MA and many nieces and nephews.

The family will hold a private service at their convenience. Memorials may be made to NMB Humane Society 409 Bay Street, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582.

Yogi Berra, Master Catcher With a Goofy Wit, Dies at 90

By Bruce Webersept
The New York Times
September 23, 2015

Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series — but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms — died Tuesday. He was 90.

His death was reported by the Yankees and by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center Museum in Little Falls, N.J. Before moving to an assisted living facility in nearby West Caldwell, in 2012, Berra had lived for many years in neighboring Montclair.

In 1949, early in Berra’s Yankee career, his manager assessed him this way in an interview in The Sporting News:

“Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”

And so he was, and so he proved to be. Universally known simply as Yogi, probably the second most recognizable nickname in sports — even Yogi wasn’t the Babe — Berra was not exactly an unlikely hero, but he was often portrayed as one: an All-Star for 15 consecutive seasons whose skills were routinely underestimated, a well-built, appealingly open-faced man whose physical appearance was often belittled, and a prolific winner — not to mention a successful leader — whose intellect was a target of humor if not outright derision.

That he triumphed on the diamond again and again in spite of his perceived shortcomings was certainly a source of his popularity. So was the delight with which his famous, if not always documentable, pronouncements, somehow both nonsensical and sagacious, were received.

“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.

“If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, “don’t copy him.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he said, giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.

“Nobody goes there anymore,” he said of a popular restaurant. “It’s too crowded.”

Whether Berra actually uttered the many things attributed to him, or was the first to say them, or phrased them precisely the way they were reported, has long been a matter of speculation. Berra himself published a book in 1998 called “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!” But the Yogi-isms testified to a character — goofy and philosophical, flighty and down to earth — that came to define the man.

Berra’s Yogi-ness was exploited in advertisements for myriad products, among them Puss ’n Boots cat food and Miller Lite beer, but perhaps most famously, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink. Asked if Yoo-Hoo was hyphenated, he is said to have replied, “No, ma’am, it isn’t even carbonated.”

If not exactly a Yogi-ism, it was the kind of response that might have come from Berra’s ursine namesake, the affable animated character Yogi Bear, who made his debut in 1958.

The character Yogi Berra may even have overshadowed the Hall of Fame ballplayer Yogi Berra, obscuring what a remarkable athlete he was. A notorious “bad ball” hitter — he swung at a lot of pitches that weren’t strikes but mashed them anyway — he was fearsome in the clutch and the most durable and consistently productive Yankee during the period of the team’s most relentless success.

In addition, as a catcher he played the most physically grueling and concentration-demanding position on the field. (For a respite from the chores and challenges of crouching behind the plate, Berra, who played before the designated hitter rule took effect in the American League in 1973, occasionally played the outfield.)

Stengel, the Hall of Fame manager whose shrewdness and talent were also often underestimated, recognized Berra’s gifts. He referred to Berra, even as a young player, as his assistant manager and compared him favorably to star catchers of previous eras like Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey. “You could look it up” was Stengel’s catchphrase, and indeed the record book declares that Berra was among the greatest catchers in the history of the game, some say the greatest of all.

Berra’s career batting average of .285 wasn’t as high as that of his Yankee predecessor Dickey (.313), but Berra hit more home runs (358) and drove in more runs (1,430). Widely praised by pitchers for his astute pitch-calling, Berra led the American League in assists five times, and from 1957 through 1959 went 148 consecutive games behind the plate without making an error, a major league record at the time — though he wasn’t a defensive wizard from the start.

Dickey, Berra explained, “learned me all his experience.”

On defense, he certainly surpassed Mike Piazza, the best-hitting catcher of recent vintage — and maybe ever. Johnny Bench, whose Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s were known as the Big Red Machine, and Berra were comparable in offensive production, except that Bench struck out three times as often. Berra whiffed a mere 414 times in more than 8,300 plate appearances over 19 seasons — an astonishingly small ratio for a power hitter.

Others — Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez among them — also deserve consideration in a discussion of great catchers, but none was clearly superior to Berra on offense or defense. Only Roy Campanella, a contemporary rival who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and faced Berra in the World Series six times before his career was ended by an auto accident, equaled Berra’s total of three Most Valuable Player awards. And though Berra didn’t win the award in 1950 — his teammate Phil Rizzuto did — he gave one of the greatest season-long performances by a catcher that year, hitting .322, smacking 28 homers and driving in 124 runs.

Berra’s career was punctuated by storied episodes. In Game 3 of the 1947 World Series against the Dodgers he hit the first pinch-hit home run in Series history, and in Game 4 he was behind the plate for what was almost the first no-hitter and was instead a stunning loss. With two out in the ninth inning and two men on base with walks, the Yankees’ starter, Bill Bevens, gave up a double to Cookie Lavagetto that cleared the bases and won the game.

In September 1951, once again on the brink of a no-hitter, this one by Allie Reynolds against the Red Sox, Berra made one of baseball’s legendary errors. With two out in the ninth inning, Ted Williams hit a towering foul ball between home plate and the Yankee dugout; it looked like the end of the game, sealing Reynolds’s second no-hitter of the season and making him the first American League pitcher to accomplish that feat. But as the ball plummeted, it was caught in a gust of wind; Berra lunged backward, and it deflected off his glove as he went sprawling.

Amazingly, on the next pitch, Williams hit an almost identical pop-up, and this time Berra caught it.

In the first game of the 1955 World Series against Brooklyn, the Yankees were ahead, 6-4, in the top of the eighth when the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson stole home. The plate umpire Bill Summers called him safe, and Berra went berserk, gesticulating in Summers’s face and creating one of the enduring images of an on-the-field tantrum. The Yankees won the game though not the Series — it was the only time Brooklyn got the better of Berra’s Yanks — but Berra never forgot the moment. More than 50 years later, he signed a photograph of the play for President Obama, writing, “Dear Mr. President, He was out!”

During the 1956 Series, again against Brooklyn, Berra was at the center of another indelible image, this one of sheer joy, when he leapt into the arms of Don Larsen, who had just struck out Dale Mitchell to end Game 5 and complete the only perfect game (and only no-hitter) in World Series history.

When reporters gathered at Berra’s locker after the game, he greeted them mischievously. “So,” he said, “what’s new?”

Beyond the historic moments and individual accomplishments, what most distinguished Berra’s career was how often he won. From 1946 to 1985, as a player, coach and manager, Berra appeared in a remarkable 21 World Series. Playing on powerful Yankee teams with teammates like Rizzuto and Joe DiMaggio early on and then Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle, Berra starred on World Series winners in 1947, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’56 and ’58. He was a backup player on the championship teams of 1961 and ’62. (He also played on World Series losers in 1955, ’57, ’60 and ’63.) All told, his Yankee teams won the American League pennant 14 out of 17 years. He still holds Series records for games played, plate appearances, hits and doubles.

No other player has been a champion so often.

Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12, 1925, in the Italian enclave of St. Louis known as the Hill, which also fostered the baseball career of his boyhood friend Joe Garagiola. Berra was the fourth of five children. His father, Pietro, a construction worker and a bricklayer, and his mother, Paulina, were immigrants from Malvaglio, a northern Italian village near Milan. (As an adult, on a visit to his ancestral home, Berra took in a performance of “Tosca” at La Scala. “It was pretty good,” he said. “Even the music was nice.”)

As a boy, Berra was known as Larry, or Lawdie, as his mother pronounced it. As recounted in “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee,” a 2009 biography by Allen Barra, one day in his early teens, young Larry and some friends had gone to the movies and were watching a travelogue about India when a Hindu yogi appeared on the screen sitting cross-legged. His posture struck one of the friends as precisely the way Berra sat on the ground as he waited his turn at bat. From that day on, he was Yogi Berra.

An ardent athlete but an indifferent student, Berra dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He played American Legion ball and worked odd jobs. As teenagers, both he and Garagiola tried out with the St. Louis Cardinals and were offered contracts by the Cardinals’ general manager, Branch Rickey. But Garagiola’s came with a $500 signing bonus and Berra’s just $250, so Berra declined to sign. (This was a harbinger of deals to come. Berra, whose salary as a player reached $65,000 in 1961, substantial for that era, would prove to be a canny contract negotiator, almost always extracting concessions from the Yankees’ penurious general manager George Weiss.)

In the meantime, the St. Louis Browns — they later moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles — also wanted to sign Berra but were not willing to pay any bonus at all. Then, the day after the 1942 World Series, in which the Cardinals beat the Yankees, a Yankee coach showed up at Berra’s parents’ house and offered him a minor-league contract — along with the elusive $500.

Berra’s professional baseball life began in Virginia in 1943 with the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League. In 111 games he hit .253 and led the league’s catchers in errors, but he once had 12 hits and drove in 23 runs over two consecutive games. It was a promising start, but World War II put his career on hold. Berra joined the Navy. He took part in the invasion of Normandy and, two months later, in Operation Dragoon, an Allied assault on Marseilles in which he was bloodied by a bullet and earned a Purple Heart.

In 1946, after his discharge, he was assigned to the Newark Bears, then the Yankees’ top farm team. He played outfield and catcher and hit .314 with 15 home runs and 59 runs batted in 77 games, though his fielding still lacked polish; in one instance he hit an umpire with a throw from behind the plate meant for second base. Nonetheless, the Yankees summoned him in September. In his first big league game he had two hits, including a home run.

As a Yankee, Berra became a fan favorite, partly because of his superior play — he batted .305 and drove in 98 runs in 1948, his second full season — and partly because of his humility and guilelessness. In 1947, honored at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, a nervous Berra told the hometown crowd, “I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”

Berra was a hit with sportswriters, too, though they often portrayed him as a baseball idiot savant, an apelike, barely literate devotee of comic books and movies who spoke fractured English. So was born the Yogi caricature, of the triumphant rube.

“Even today,” Life magazine wrote in July 1949, “he has only pity for people who clutter their brains with such unnecessary and frivolous matters as literature and the sciences, not to mention grammar and orthography.”

Collier’s magazine declared, “With a body that only an anthropologist could love, the 185-pound Berra could pass easily as a member of the Neanderthal A.C.”

Berra tended to take the gibes in stride. If he was ugly, he was said to have remarked, it didn’t matter at the plate. “I never saw nobody hit one with his face,” he was quoted as saying. But when writers chided him about his girlfriend, Carmen Short, saying he was too unattractive to marry her, he responded, according to Colliers, “I’m human, ain’t I?”

Berra outlasted the ridicule. He married Ms. Short in 1949, and the marriage endured until her death in 2014. He is survived by their three sons — Tim, who played professional football for the Baltimore Colts; Dale, a former infielder for the Yankees, Pirates and Astros; and Lawrence Jr.

Certainly, assessments of Berra changed over the years.

“He has continued to allow people to regard him as an amiable clown because it brings him quick acceptance, despite ample proof, onfield and off, that he is intelligent, shrewd and opportunistic,” Robert Lipsyte wrote in The New York Times in October 1963.

At the time, Berra had just concluded his career as a Yankee player and the team had named him manager, a role in which he’d continue to find success, though not with the same regularity he enjoyed as a player and not without drama and disappointment. Indeed things began badly. The Yankees, an aging team in 1964, played listless ball through much of the summer, and in mid-August they lost four straight games in Chicago to the first-place White Sox, leading to one of the kookier episodes of Berra’s career.

On the team bus to O’Hare Airport, the reserve infielder Phil Linz began playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the harmonica. Berra, in a foul mood over the losing streak, told him to knock it off, but Linz didn’t. (In another version of the story, Linz asked Mickey Mantle what Berra had said, and Mantle responded, “He said, ‘Play it louder.’ ”) Suddenly the harmonica went flying, having been either knocked out of Linz’s hands by Berra or thrown at Berra by Linz. (Players on the bus had different recollections.)

News reports of the incident made it sound as if Berra had lost control of the team, and though the Yankees caught and passed the White Sox in September, winning the pennant, Ralph Houk, the general manager, fired Berra after the team lost a seven-game World Series to St. Louis, in a bizarre move replacing him with the Cardinals’ manager, Johnny Keane.

Keane’s Yankees finished last in 1965.

Berra, meanwhile, moved across town, taking a job as a coach for the famously awful Mets under Stengel, who was finishing his career in Flushing. The team continued its mythic floundering until 1969, when the so-called Miracle Mets, with Gil Hodges as manager — and Berra coaching first base — won the World Series.

After Hodges died before the start of the 1972 season, Berra replaced him. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in that summer, but the Mets team he inherited faltered, finishing third, and for most of the 1973 season they were worse. In mid-August, the team was well under .500 and in sixth place, when Berra uttered perhaps the most famous Yogi-ism of all.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” he said (or words to that effect), and, lo and behold, the Mets got hot, squeaking by the Cardinals to win the National League’s Eastern Division title.

They then beat the Reds in the League Championship Series before losing to the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. Berra was rewarded for the resurgence with a three-year contract, but the Mets were dreadful in 1974, finishing fifth, and the next year, on Aug. 6, with the team in third place and having lost five straight games, Berra was fired.

Once again he switched leagues and city boroughs, returning to the Bronx as a Yankee coach, and in 1984 the owner, George M. Steinbrenner, named him to replace the volatile Billy Martin as manager. The team finished third that year, but during spring training in 1985 Steinbrenner promised him that he would finish the season as Yankee manager no matter what. However, after just 16 games (the Yankees were 6-10) the impatient and imperious Steinbrenner fired Berra anyway, bringing back Martin — and worse than breaking his word, perhaps, sending an underling to deliver the bad news.

The firing, which had an added sting because Berra’s son Dale had recently joined the Yankees, provoked one of baseball’s legendary feuds, and for 14 years Berra refused to set foot in Yankee Stadium, a period during which he coached four seasons for the Houston Astros.

In the meantime private donors helped establish the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the New Jersey campus of Montclair State University, which awarded Berra an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1996 and where a minor league ballpark, Yogi Berra Stadium, opened in 1998. A tribute to Berra with exhibits on his career, the museum runs programs for children dealing with baseball history. In January 1999 Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, went there to make amends.

“I know I made a mistake by not letting you go personally,” he told Berra. “It’s the worst mistake I ever made in baseball.”

Berra chose not to quibble with the semi-apology. To welcome him back into the Yankee fold, the team held a Yogi Berra Day on July 18, 1999. Also invited was Don Larsen, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which Berra caught.

Incredibly, in the game that day, David Cone of the Yankees pitched a perfect game.

It was, as Berra may or may not have said in another context, “déjà vu all over again,” a fittingly climactic episode for a wondrous baseball life.

Former Explorer Walter Young dies at 35

Terry Hersome
September 23, 2015 4:54 pm

PURVIS, Miss. | Seven years after leading the Sioux City Explorers to their last playoff appearance prior to this season, king-sized first baseman Walter Young died here Saturday from a heart attack at the age of 35.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds when he joined the Baltimore Orioles in 2005, Young’s weight and body mass index (38.2) were the highest ever recorded for an active Major League baseball player.

The Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native, whose published weight reached as high as 340, declined to disclose his weight while playing for Sioux City for the final month of the 2008 season and the first six weeks of the 2009 campaign.

He joined the X’s on July 26, 2008, and had an immediate impact for Manager Les Lancaster’s team, driving in 15 runs in his first four games with the team, including a seven-RBI outing in just his second game with the club.

With Young driving in 29 runs in 26 games, the Explorers went 19-7 down the stretch to win the second-half North Division title before falling to Sioux Falls, the first-half winner and eventual league champ, in a semifinal playoff series.

He returned to Sioux City at the start of the 2009 season, but was released by Lancaster after batting .272 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 41 games. He finished the season with Edmonton in the now-defunct Golden Baseball League and that became his last stop in professional baseball.

Young, once a highly touted prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system, was acquired by the Orioles in 2004 and he promptly put up a club-record 33 home runs along with 98 RBIs in 133 games for the Bowie, Maryland, Baysox of the Class AA Eastern League. After hitting .288 with 13 homers and 81 RBIs in 123 games for Class AAA Ottawa in 2005, he got a late-season call-up from Baltimore, where he went 10 of 33 (.303) in 14 games.

It was the only Major League opportunity for Young, who spent 2007 with the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the Northern League, batting .313 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs. He played 55 games in 2008 for Sussex of the Can-Am League before being acquired by Sioux City.

Young, proportioned more like an offensive lineman than a baseball player, spurned a football scholarship to LSU when he signed to pursue baseball in the Pirates’ organization.

Since leaving baseball, he had returned to Mississippi and joined the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department as a shift sergeant at the county jail. At the time of his death, he was working as a school resource officer and pursuing a degree from online University of Phoenix.

Bobby Etheridge

The Smith Funeral Home
Saturday, September 19, 2015

Graveside Services for Bobby Etheridge, age 73, of Greenville, will be at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery, He died Thursday, September 17, 2015 at Sharkey Issaquena hospital, Visitation will be Friday, September 18, 2015 from 5:00-7:00 PM at Smith Funeral Home, 1580 South Colorado St., Greenville, MS.

Bobby was born November 25, 1941 in Greenville, MS. He is the son of the late Murray Aubrey and the late Ezma (Mayo) Etheridge SR. He was employed by Mississippi Marine as a Supply Coordinator. He was a lifelong resident of Greenville Mr. Bobby was a very humble and passive man. He was a man of integrity and was always willing to lend a helping hand. He was an avid hunter and loved running his beagles. Bobby Played baseball his freshmen year at Mississippi State University before transferring to Mississippi Delta Community College where they won the state championship. He then played professional baseball as a third baseman for the San Francisco Giants. He made his first major league debut in 1967; In his first start with the giants, down 4-1 in the ninth inning, he hit a two out triple to drive in two runs. He was also a member of the Mississippi Delta Hall of Fame.

Bobby was preceded in death by two brothers Murray "snow" Etheridge JR.; and James "Jimmy" Winston, and two sisters Mary Jane "Janie" Etheridge.; and Patricia Ann "Patsy" Etheridge, and sister-in law Debbie Etheridge.

He is survived by one daughter: Cissy Etheridge Of Nashville, TN. and two sons: Bud Etheridge And His Wife Tracy Of Greenville Ms., Jason Walker And His Wife Christa Of Oklahoma City, Ok; two sisters: Sue Etheridge Harper And Her Husband Ray Of Senatobia, MS., Linda Etheridge Smith And Her Husband Charles Of Tunica, MS, one brother: Dickey Etheridge Of Winston- Salem, NC.; He also has two grandchildren; Meredith Etheridge Of Oxford, MS; and Brett Etheridge Of Greenville, Ms.

Pastor David Ingram will be officiating.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton dies

Worked MLB games for 60 seasons, Astros for 28; called Aaron's 715th homer

By Brian McTaggart /
September 17th, 2015

Milo Hamilton, who called games with enthusiasm and distinction as the voice of the Astros for a generation of baseball fans in Houston, passed away on Thursday. He was 88.

Hamilton's death comes less than three years after he worked his final game behind the microphone for the Astros, calling the team's regular-season home finale in 2012. He was still a presence at the ballpark in the past few years, but his health deteriorated in recent months.

Hamilton is predeceased by his wife of nearly 53 years, Arlene, who died in 2005, and his daughter, Patricia, who died in 2006. He is survived by his son, Mark.

"It's a sad day for baseball and a sad day for the Houston Astros," Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio said. "The man was an amazing voice and an amazing person behind the microphone to describe the game. His knowledge and history of the game was second to none. It's a tough day."

Hamilton's death comes less than two weeks after longtime Astros announcer and 2006 Ford C. Frick Award winner Gene Elston died on Sept. 5.

Hamilton had a broadcasting career that stretched more than 65 years and included work calling basketball and football games, but it was baseball that allowed Hamilton to showcase his unforgettable voice. He worked as a Major League broadcaster for more than 55 years, with stops in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Houston, where he landed in 1985.

A moment of silence was scheduled in Hamilton's honor prior to Thursday's game against the Rangers in Arlington. The Astros will wear a patch on their uniforms beginning Friday to honor Hamilton.

"Today, the entire Astros family and many throughout the baseball world are mourning the loss of our friend, Milo Hamilton," Astros team president Reid Ryan said in a statement. "For decades, Milo had a special connection with the Houston community, bringing Astros baseball to the cars and homes of fans throughout the great state of Texas and beyond. During his legendary career, we enjoyed the privilege of Milo calling some of the greatest moments in Astros history.

"In addition to his great work in the booth, Milo was also an outstanding ambassador for Astros baseball, a mantle he carried with a great deal of pride. While we mourn his sad passing, we should also celebrate Milo's long, wonderful career. He was one of the all-time greats and a true icon whose contributions to the game and beyond will be remembered always."

Hamilton's impact on the game goes beyond Houston. He was given the industry's highest honor in 1992 when he was presented with the prestigious Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame for excellence in broadcasting.

"During his 60 years covering our game, Milo became one of the national pastime's most distinguished announcers, serving seven different Major League clubs," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "He chronicled some of our game's most historic moments during the era of Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Ernie Banks. As 'The Voice of the Astros' since 1985, he ushered into the homes of fans Houston's first World Series appearance, the Hall of Fame careers of Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio and countless other memories.

"I enjoyed spending time with Milo during my trip to Houston earlier in this resurgent season for the Astros, and it was a pleasure to correspond with him in recent months. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Milo's family, friends, admirers throughout the game and to all Astros fans."

Hamilton was in the booth for some of baseball's most memorable moments, including Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run in 1974 and serving as the play-by-play announcer for the 1979 World Series champion Pirates. He also called Roger Maris' 61st homer (recreated on Western Union ticker), 11 no-hitters, Ryan's 4,000th strikeout in 1985 and Barry Bonds' 70th home run in 2001.

"Milo and I were friends for many years," Aaron said. "I had great respect for him and his knowledge of baseball. For me, he was in the class with Vin Scully."

Scully also shared his condolences.

"Milo Hamilton was an enthusiastic and highly accurate broadcaster who was also a dear friend of mine," Scully said.

Hamilton's famed "Holy Toledo!" became one of the most recognizable signature lines in baseball history.

Hamilton's tenure as a Major League broadcaster is surpassed by only Scully. His big league on-air career included stops with the St. Louis Browns (1953), Cardinals (1954), Cubs (1956-57 and 1980-84), White Sox (1962-65), Braves (1966-75), Pirates (1976-79) and Astros.

As far as his time with the Astros goes, Hamilton said Mike Scott's division-clinching no-hitter in 1986 and Biggio becoming the first Astros player to collect 3,000 hits in 2007 are his two most memorable calls.

"A lot of great things happened here," Hamilton once said.

In addition to receiving the Frick Award, Hamilton is a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame (1994), Radio Hall of Fame (2000), Texas Radio Hall of Fame (2002) and the Iowa Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame (2011). He shared the broadcast booth with numerous other Frick Award winners, including Jack Brickhouse, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and Bob Elson.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame released this statement:

"By the time Milo Hamilton was presented the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence in Cooperstown in 1992, he was already a titan among the sport's greatest voices, yet he was seemingly still in his early era for Astros fans, with many of his signature moments in Houston baseball yet to come. Visitors to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are graced by his calls over a half-century, from Hank Aaron's 715th home run to Mike Scott's no-hitter in 1986 to clinch the N.L. West. His is a voice that will remembered for generations and his legacy is one that will resonate with baseball's greatest moments - in Houston and throughout the country."

A native of Fairfield, Iowa, Hamilton graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in radio speech and began his radio career with the Navy in 1945. He later called basketball and football games for Iowa and Minor League games for the Quad City Tigers, as well as Quad City Black Hawks basketball games.

The game has changed mightily since Hamilton began his career in the 1950s, when teams and broadcasters traveled by train and radio was the only medium to follow baseball. Early in his career, while calling Minor League games, Hamilton recreated games for broadcast purposes and even created his own sound effects.

"I had a metronome, and if you hit that metronome it sounded like the bat hitting the ball," Hamilton said.

Hamilton called a game from his 59th Major League ballpark in 2012, when the Astros made their first visit to the Miami Marlins' new ballpark that April. He served as a guest radio commentator for select Astros home games from 2013-15, with his final stint in the booth coming on June 28, during the Astros' game against the Yankees at Minute Maid Park.

"It's been a great game for me," Hamilton said when he announced his impending retirement in 2012. "I did football for 25 years and basketball for over 40 years, but baseball was the greatest game in the world when I started, and it still is today. When the end of the season comes and I do that last game as the voice of the club -- if you want to put it that way -- I'll still be around doing a lot of things."

Alex Monchak

Manasota Memorial Park & Funeral Home
September 15, 2015

Alex Monchak peacefully passed away on September 12, 2015 after living a wonderful life. He was a Bayonne, New Jersey native, first generation American and the eldest of three children, son of Ukrainian parents MaTrona Marich Monchak and George Monchak. He is preceded by his beloved wife Audrey Guidry Monchak, brother Edward Monchak and his sister Mary Monchak Danchak. Alex is survived by his children: son Alex Monchak Jr. of Texas, daughter Trona Jean Monchak-Carter of Florida, two grandchildren: granddaughter Amanda Jean Carter, grandson Quinton Sagely Carter, and a large extended family throughout the United States.

Alex and Audrey raised their family in Cinnaminson, New Jersey prior to relocating to Manatee County, Florida in 1980. They were founding and longtime members of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church.

Alex lived a long life as he pursued his passion and childhood dream to participate in Major League Baseball. His ultimate goal was to support the growth and development of both himself and the team as they worked together to achieve a Major League Baseball World Series Championship.

His Major League Baseball career began as the shortstop with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1940. Like many players during that time, his career was quickly interrupted when he received the call to serve our country. Alex was deployed to the 11th Armored Division of the United States Army during World War II and fought under General George Patton in the Battle Of The Bulge, the largest battle ever fought at the time. Following his military service during World War II, Alex continued to pursue his childhood dream of a career in baseball. In 1949 to 1961 he managed in the minor leagues with the Odessa Oilers, Lexington Indians, Wellsville Braves, and the Cedar Rapid Braves amongst others and even took on the role of a player/manager in 1956. In 2013 Alex traveled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he was honored for his accomplishments and inducted into the Cedar Rapids Hall of Fame. From 1962 to 1970 Alex worked with California Angels both as a scout and in their instructional program.

Then Alex received the call to return to the Major League Baseball roster, this time as coach with renowned Manager Chuck Tanner. This coaching/management team stayed together for many years sharing their leadership with the following Major League Baseball organizations: Chicago White Sox (1971-1975), Oakland A's (1976), Pittsburgh Pirates (1977-1985) and the Atlanta Braves (1986-1988). Alex's childhood dream came true in 1979 when he was the first base coach, (yes on the field) with the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates who became Major League Baseball World Champions! Alex continued his Major League Baseball career as a Major League Baseball scout for several teams and was honored as a recipient of the distinguish Roland Hemond Award in 2009 at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida.

Upon Alex's passing he was the third oldest living Major League Baseball player and the oldest living Philadelphia Phillies player.
A "Celebration of Life" mass will be held for Alex at 9:30am on Saturday, October 17th 2015. The church location is Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church 2850 75th Street in Bradenton, Florida 34209. Alex's Interment will take place in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

A mass will be held at Fort Myers' Old Post Chapel followed by military honors and Alex's interment joining Audrey in the columbium at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation; 5010 N. Parkway Calabasas; Suite 201; Calabasas, CA 91302 a 501-C-3 organization.

George W. Schultz; pitcher helped defeat '64 Phils on way to Series

Walter F. Naedele,
Philadelpia Inquirer Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 1:09 AM

George W. Schultz, of Cinnaminson, a St. Louis Cardinals knuckleball reliever known as "Barney," posted a 1.64 earned run average in 30 regular-season games for his 1964 World Series champs - breaking the hearts of Phillies fans along the way.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, Mr. Schultz, 89, died at Lourdes Medical Center in Willingboro of complications from a heart attack.

"He was an important part of our family and he will be missed," Ron Watermon, vice president of communications for the Cardinals, said.

"He was very important as part of the team, particularly in 1964, when we made that amazing run for the world championship."

During the Phillies' 10-game losing streak that cost them the 1964 National League pennant, the Cards swept all three September games from those visitors.

"Schultz saved two of the games," John Stahl wrote for the website of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Phillies manager Gene Mauch was not impressed.

"Eleven saves in two months. That's more than Schultz had in his whole big-league career," Stahl wrote of Mauch's reaction. "He never saw the day he could get us out before."

(Actually, before the Cards promoted him back to their major-league roster on July 31, 1964, Mr. Schultz had saved 19 games in six seasons, including for the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs.)

In the last 60 games of the Cardinals' 1964 season, Stahl wrote, "Barney appeared 30 times, all in relief, winning once and saving 14 games as the Cardinals rushed past Mauch's Phillies and captured the National League pennant."

"After Barney's successful appearance in Game One of the 1964 World Series, Cardinals manager Johnny Keane declared, 'Without him, we wouldn't be here.' "

In Game One of the Series, played in St. Louis, the 38-year-old "pitched three effective innings in relief of Ray Sadecki as the Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees, 9-5," Stahl wrote.

In Game Two at Yankee Stadium, Mr. Schultz "entered the 1-1 game in the ninth inning.

"On Schultz's first pitch of the inning, Mickey Mantle blasted a game-winning home run," Stahl wrote. "The towering homer reached the third tier of the right-field stands. Mantle later listed the home run as one of the top five thrills of his baseball career."

The Cards won the '64 Series in seven games.

Mr. Schultz ended his eight-season major-league pitching career in 1965, with the Cardinals, in the year he turned 39.

After working as a minor-league pitching instructor for the Cards, Mr. Schultz was the major-league team's pitching coach from 1971 to 1975, then the pitching coach for the Cubs in 1977 and a coach in Japan, before retiring from pro ball in 1982.

In 1988, he was inducted into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame, his daughter, Barbara, said.

Mr. Schultz lived in Edgewater Park for 50 years, before moving to Mount Laurel in 2010 and to Cinnaminson this past June, she said.

Born in Beverly, Mr. Schultz graduated from Burlington High School in 1944, where he was a starting pitcher but only "fiddled with the knuckleball, using it as a change of pace when he was well ahead in the count," Stahl wrote.

Arm problems kept him in the minor leagues until at 29 he joined the Cardinals for the 1955 season. He was with the Tigers in 1959 and with the Cubs from 1961 into 1963, before being traded back to the Cards that year.

Then came 1964.

In retirement, his daughter said, he golfed in celebrity tournaments until he was in his early 80s.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Schultz is survived by his wife, Frances, sons George Jr. and Paul, six grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

He was a lifelong member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Beverly, his daughter said. No services are planned.

Joaquin Andujar, All-Star Who Pitched ’82 Cardinals to Title, Dies at 62

By Bruce Webersept
The New York Times
September 8, 2015

Joaquin Andujar, a Dominican right-hander who made four National League All-Star teams and pitched in two climactic World Series games for the St. Louis Cardinals, winning one and being ejected from the other, died on Tuesday in the Dominican Republic. He was 62.

The Cardinals announced the death on their website. According to an ESPN Deportes report citing the former Reds pitcher Mario Soto, who is the president of the Dominican Federation of Professional Baseball Players, Andujar died after a long battle with diabetes.

Andujar, a hard thrower with sharp breaking stuff, played in the big leagues with three teams from 1976 to 1988. He began and ended his career with the Houston Astros, pitching in the National League Championship Series for them against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980, in which he earned a save in Game 2 of a series the Astros eventually lost.

He was traded the following June to St. Louis, where, with his strenuous windup and his intensity on the mound, he became a fan favorite and a star. A workhorse in the starting rotation, from 1982 to 1985 he pitched more than 260 innings in three seasons out of four, leading the league in 1984. (Last year’s major league leader, David Price, pitched 248 ? innings.)

Andujar won 20 games in 1984 and 21 in 1985. In the 1982 postseason, he earned three of the Cardinals’ eight victories: He beat the Atlanta Braves in the N.L.C.S., and in two starts against the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series he pitched 13 ? innings with a 1.35 earned run average and earned two victories, including Game 7, clinching the title.

The 1985 season proved to be his undoing. Though he finished the regular season with perhaps his best statistical showing — he went 21-12 with a 3.40 E.R.A. and pitched a career-high 269 ? innings — he faltered badly in the second half. After beating San Diego on July 26, he was 17-4, but he won only one more game after Aug. 23, and his postseason was simply disastrous.

Though the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers in the N.L.C.S., Andujar lost Game 2 and had a no-decision in Game 6. He then lost Game 3 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, and in Game 7 he was tossed out by the home-plate umpire, Don Denkinger, for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning with the Cardinals down, 10-0. Andujar was furious and had to be restrained by several teammates.

The explosion was emblematic of the Cardinals’ greater frustration. They had led the Series, three games to one, and seemed to be on the verge of claiming the title the previous day. In the ninth inning of Game 6, with the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, Denkinger, at first base, missed a call and opened the door for a Kansas City rally and a come-from-behind victory. And then, in Game 7, the Cardinals were clobbered.

Andujar was brought in with the score 9-0 and gave up a run-scoring hit. (The final score was 11-0.) He threw an inside pitch to the next hitter, and Denkinger — rightly — called it a ball. Andujar expressed his displeasure, but the Cardinals’ manager, Whitey Herzog, ran out on the field, argued with Denkinger on Andujar’s behalf and was ejected. It was after the next pitch that Andujar exploded.

“I’ll tell you,” the broadcaster Tim McCarver said on the air as Andujar was led off the field, “Joaquin Andujar may never recover from the second half of this season.”

He was right. That December, the Cardinals traded him to the Oakland Athletics of the American League; he played three more seasons but won only 17 more games.

Joaquin Andujar was born on Dec. 21, 1952, in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, a link in a long chain of outstanding Dominican pitchers that includes Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez (who said on Tuesday that Andujar had been an inspiration to him as a boy) and Bartolo Colon. Andujar was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cincinnati Reds in 1969 and pitched in their minor league system, where he made his professional debut at age 17, until 1975, when the Reds traded him to Houston.

For his major league career, he was 127-118, with a 3.58 E.R.A. and 1,032 strikeouts in 2,153 innings.

Information on his survivors was not immediately available.

Former Astros broadcaster Elston dies at 93

By Chandler Rome / | September 6th, 2015

HOUSTON -- Gene Elston, the longtime Astros radio broadcaster, Texas Baseball Hall of Famer and 2006 Ford C. Frick Award winner, died on Saturday. Elston was 93.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Gene Elston," Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan said in a statement. "Gene helped introduce baseball to Houston as a part of the original broadcast team of the Colt .45s when the franchise was born in 1962. For 25 seasons, he served as the lead voice of the Colt .45s and Astros and called many of the great moments in franchise history. The memories he helped create are cherished fondly by the generations of Astros fans that he touched.

"On behalf of the entire Astros organization, I send my deepest condolences to Gene's family members and to his many friends and fans."

Elston was the lead voice of the Astros from the beginning, starting in 1962 when the franchise was still called the Colt .45s and ending after the 1986 season, when the Astros captured a National League West Championship. He called 11 no-hitters, including one of Nolan Ryan's and Mike Scott's that clinched the National League West title on Sept. 25, 1986. Also among his broadcasting feats was Eddie Matthews' 500th home run.

"Gene worked in the era that radio brought the game into our cars and into our homes," said Nolan Ryan, who listened to Elston while growing up in Alvin. "As a kid growing up in Texas, my connection to Major League Baseball was through Gene and his radio partners. It was a big part of my life. It was a great experience for me to be around Gene when I came to Houston as a player. He had a real passion and commitment to baseball."

His career in broadcasting began in 1945 when, after serving in the Navy during World War II, he was a color commentator for the NFL's Cleveland Rams. A year later he began broadcasting baseball, calling games for the Waterloo White Hawks before moving to the Western League's Des Moines team three years later.

Elston broadcasted alongside Bob Feller in 1958 for Mutual's Game of the Day before joining the Astros as they became an expansion franchise. After leaving Houston, he worked the CBS Radio Game of the Week from 1987-1995 and CBS postseason games from 1995-97.

"Gene Elston brought a classic broadcasting approach to Houston as the first voice of Major League Baseball in Texas," current Astros broadcaster Bill Brown said. "His smooth style emphasized accuracy and depth of knowledge about the game's history. He was the perfect baseball teacher for the generation of fans who built their loyalty to the Colt .45s and Astros through his stewardship."

Elston was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Astros held a moment of silence for Elston in the middle of the eighth inning of Saturday night's game and had a pregame tribute scheduled for Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Jack Spring, former major league pitcher, dies

Played for seven teams in the majors, coached West Valley to state championship

Thomas Clouse,
The Spokesman-Review
August 4, 2015 in Sports

Jack Russell Spring, a left hander who pitched in the same bullpen as Satchel Paige and against Mickey Mantle before returning home and coaching West Valley to the Spokane area’s only state high school baseball championship in 1978, died on Sunday. He was 82.

Last summer, after advanced Parkinson’s disease had confined him to a wheelchair, Spring attended a ceremony for the naming of “Jack Spring Stadium” at West Valley High School where he spent 23 years as a teacher, coach and administrator.

Friends and family will return to West Valley on Aug. 22 at 11 a.m. for Spring’s memorial service.

“I think what defined my dad was his genuine care for others,” his youngest son, Chris Spring, said. “He was such a genuine and humble man. That’s why so many people have reached out to us. It’s been overwhelming.”

Spring had a major health setback on July 25, just two weeks after he celebrated his 63rd anniversary with his wife, Vona (McLean) Spring. Jack Spring then died on Sunday.

Bill Farr, 83, said he met Spring when they were freshmen at Lewis and Clark High School. It started 67-year-long friendship that ended only with Spring’s passing.

“He was a great family man and he was a great friend,” said Farr, who caught for Spring on LC’s baseball team.

Spring graduated from high school in 1951. He played one year at Washington State and then started a 17-year professional career that included stints with seven major league teams.

During his final year in 1969, Spring pitched under Spokane Indians manager Tommy Lasorda and had several other teammates who would reach the majors, including Bill Buckner and Bobby Valentine.

“When he retired, I was only 6 so my memories are minimal,” said Chris Spring, an assistant principal and athletic director at Medical Lake. “I remember bits and pieces of the 1969 season with the Spokane Indians.”

But he and his brothers traveled with their father in 2012 when the Boston Red Sox welcomed every living former player to the 100-year celebration of Fenway Park.

Spring took part even though he only pitched one inning for Boston in 1957. Spring came on in relief in a 7-5 loss to Baltimore where he pitched a scoreless ninth by inducing a ground out and throwing two strikeouts.

“He walks up to (229 game winner) Luis Tiant, and Tiant says, ‘Jack. I haven’t seen you for years,’” Chris Spring said. “To watch him with his buddies and to see him in his element, it gave me a lot of goose bumps to see him live that experience again.”

In an earlier interview with The Spokesman-Review, Jack Spring told the story of spring training that same year with the Red Sox in 1957 when hitting legend Ted Williams finally arrived at spring training. Spring had pitched in Triple-A in Miami the year before.

But here he was in Sarasota, Fla., watching the future hall-of-famer jogging out onto the field.

“I’m standing in left field and pretty soon he ran right up and nudged me and said, ‘Hi, Jack. How’d you like it in Miami last year?’

“I didn’t think he knew I was even alive. But he was a student of pitchers, and it didn’t matter if it was an opposing pitcher or one on his team – there was always the possibility he’d have to face you.”

The next season, Spring was pitching for the Washington Senators when he faced Williams, who hit a single.

After ending his baseball career, Spring started his second career in his hometown at West Valley where he coached the Eagles to the 1978 state championship.

His exploits as a baseball player and coach earned him induction into halls of fame for Washington coaches, administrators and the 2005 induction into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame with former Gonzaga great John Stockton and others.

Spring is survived by his wife, Vona, and five children: Vicki Spring-Brown, Teresa Jordan, John Spring, Mike Spring and Chris Spring and seven grandchildren.

Asked what his father would say about his own passing, Chris Spring said his father would say he’s a proud man.

“I think he would say he’s proud of his family first and proud of his accomplishments,” he said. “But the number one accomplishment would be the relationships he had with hundreds of people. That is what really defined him.”

Negro league great and Tampa native Dirk Gibbons dead at 86

By Joey Johnston | Tampa Tribune Staff
Published: July 28, 2015

TAMPA — Walter Lee “Dirk’’ Gibbons, a Tampa native and Negro League pitching legend who was a contemporary of Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, died Friday after a long battle with prostate cancer, family friend Neil Armstrong said. Gibbons was 86.

Funeral services are pending, but a wake is planned for Aug. 7 at Aikens Funeral Home, 2708 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., from 5-8 p.m.

Gibbons, who worked in the University of Tampa’s campus maintenance department until his death, was honored in February by the City of Tampa as part of Black History Month. He also was embraced by the Rays and served as the club’s representative during the 2008 amateur player draft.

Gibbons pitched for the Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees and Indianapolis Clowns, closing with a two-season stint in 1948-49 following his service in World War II. He had an opportunity to play professionally in Puerto Rico, but that was short-circuited by his service in the Korean War.

In 2013, when a movie (“42”) detailing Robinson’s life and breaking of the major-league color barrier in 1947 was released, Gibbons reminisced about a 1950 weekend, when the Jackie Robinson All-Stars came to old Plant Field on UT’s campus, an event that drew thousands of spectators.

Gibbons said he retired Robinson on a ground out, but surrendered a long home run to Doby. Later, Gibbons tried to take Robinson inside Plant Hall for a closer look at UT’s famed minarets, but they were turned away because Gibbons said “that was the world of segregation.”

He also pointed out an irony.

“Now I’ve got the keys to every building on campus,’’ Gibbons said with laughter in a 2013 interview. “I can go anywhere I want.’’

Billy Pierce, White Sox Power Pitcher in the 1950s, Dies at 88

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
July 31, 2015

Billy Pierce, the Chicago White Sox left-hander with a blazing fastball who became one of baseball’s leading pitchers of the 1950s, died on Friday in Palos Heights, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. He was 88.

The cause was gall bladder cancer, his son Robert said.

Pierce was only 5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds or so, but his smooth mechanics enabled him to become a power pitcher with the team then known as the Go-Go Sox, which relied on pitching, speed and defense in an era dominated by the power-hitting Yankees.

Pitching for 18 major league seasons, Pierce won 211 games, was a seven-time All-Star, posted an American League-leading 1.97 E.R.A. in 1955 and amassed 1,999 strikeouts.

“Generations of White Sox fans lost one of their heroes,” Jerry Reinsdorf, the team’s owner, said on Friday.

During his 13 seasons with the White Sox, Pierce was often matched against the Yankees’ ace left-hander Whitey Ford, who was backed by the slugging of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, among others. The White Sox had few power hitters in lineups usually featuring Luis Aparicio at shortstop and Nellie Fox at second base, with Minnie Minoso in the outfield and Sherm Lollar at catcher.

“There was a time when I entered a game after our team had been shut down three games in a row,” Pierce told Major League Baseball’s website in 2013. “Early in the game, Louie got a hit, stole second. Nellie bunted him over to third and someone knocked him in. Nellie, who was my roommate on the road, came over to me and said, ‘O.K., roomie, you got your run, now hold it.’ ”
Pierce often did just that. Pitching out of an overhand delivery, relying on fastballs but mixing in curveballs, sliders and changeups, he was a two-time 20-game winner and threw 38 shutouts.

“He has wonderful coordination,” Lollar told Sports Illustrated in 1957. “He sure is pretty to watch, the way he pumps and rocks and throws.”

Facing the Washington Senators at the White Sox’s Comiskey Park on June 27, 1958, Pierce was one out away from a perfect game when the reserve catcher, Ed Fitz Gerald, delivered a pinch-hit double down the right-field line. He settled for a 3-0 victory, his third consecutive shutout.

The White Sox center fielder Jim Landis was impressed by Pierce’s equanimity in the face of disappointment.

“We went into the clubhouse and I looked at Billy, and there was no way in the world you could tell what happened,” Landis told Danny Peary in the oral history “We Played the Game” (1994). “He just got showered like he did every day and went home to be with his family. That’s strong, silent leadership.”

The White Sox beat out the Cleveland Indians and the third-place Yankees for the A.L. pennant in 1959, the first for the franchise since the infamous Black Sox of 1919. But Pierce, hampered by a hip injury late in the ’59 season, was relegated to relief duty as the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a six-game World Series.

The White Sox traded Pierce to the San Francisco Giants before the 1962 season. He rejuvenated his career in the National League, going 16-6 with a shutout, and he earned a save in the ’62 Giants’ three-game playoff victory over the Dodgers. He started twice in the World Series, with a 1-1 record, as San Francisco lost to the Yankees in seven games.

Walter William Pierce was born on April 2, 1927, in Detroit, where his father was a pharmacist. He was a high school pitching star and impressed scouts while pitching in an amateur all-star game at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1944.

He signed with the Tigers and pitched briefly in the regular season as an 18-year-old rookie with the Detroit team that went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs in the 1945 World Series, bringing him his only championship ring. After shuttling between the minors and the Tigers, Pierce was traded to the White Sox before the 1949 season.

He had a career record of 211-169, led the A.L. in complete games for three consecutive seasons and had an E.R.A. of 3.27.

Pierce, who lived in the Chicago suburb of Lemont, Ill., worked in sales for an envelope company after leaving baseball and raised funds for cancer research. The White Sox retired his No. 19 and erected a statue of him at their U.S. Cellular Field.

In addition to his son Robert, he is survived by his wife, Gloria; his son William; his daughter, Patricia Crowley; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Pierce was a mild-mannered sort who shunned night life and drinking.

In his early years with the White Sox, he received some advice from shortstop Luke Appling, who was nearing the end of a long Hall of Fame career.

“He said: ‘Kid, you’ve got to learn to drink scotch. It’s good for you and will give you strength,’ ” Pierce recalled in “We Played the Game.”

“So I drank a little. It was ugliest tasting stuff I had in my life. I thought it was medicine.”

But Pierce said: “I never had problems with other ballplayers, where if I didn’t drink I wasn’t part of the group. They understood that I’d rather be at the movies.”

Rugger Ardizoia, 95, was the oldest living New York Yankee, July 21, 2015, 6:36 AM MST

Rinaldo "Rugger" Ardizoia, a pitcher who played in one game for the New York Yankees in 1947, passed away Sunday evening due to complications from a stroke. He was 95.

The Italian born pitcher gained notoriety in his later years as the oldest living alumni of the New York Yankees. He pitched in one game during the 1947 season against the St. Louis Browns, throwing the final two innings in a 15-5 loss. He gave up two runs, including a home run to one of his former teammates in Iwo Jima during World War II.

"The guy that hit the home run off me was one of my boyhood idols, Walter Judnich," he said to Bill Nowlin in Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees. "I more of less slid it in for him because we were so far behind anyway."

Ardizoia played the majority of his career in the Pacific Coast League with the Hollywood Stars, where he had the chance to befriend celebrities such as Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, and a fellow that would later become president of the United States.

“Ronald Reagan — he used to hang out with us,” Ardizoia said to the New York Times in 2015.

At the completion of his professional baseball career in 1951, he went to work selling rental linen for 30 years. Still, his passion for baseball did not dwindle, as he played on the semiprofessional level until he was 61. He continued to attend old-timers reunions well into his 90s, willing to share his stories of playing with the legendary Yankees no matter how brief it was.


Buddy Hicks, former Detroit Tigers infielder, passes away at 87, July 7, 2015 12:40 PM MST

Clarence “Buddy” Hicks, a former switch-hitting infielder with the Detroit Tigers in the 1950s, passed away December 8, 2014 in St. George, Utah due to complications from a fall. He was 87.

Hicks started his professional baseball career with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1944 after being plucked from the sandlots in California. He was signed before he was even old enough to vote.

“I was just 17,” Hicks said during a 2008 phone interview from his home in Utah. “I was scouted by the Dodgers playing sandlot ball in Montebello, California. I went to Montreal and sat on the bench waiting for my assignment. I started with Trenton and went to Newport News.”

The talent rich Dodgers organization was filled with bonafide prospects. Branch Rickey’s keen eye for scouting placed Hicks on the same 1944 team in Newport News with future Dodger mainstays Duke Snider, Clem Labine, Tommy Brown, and Bobby Morgan. The group of budding stars first met at training camp in upstate New York during World War II.

“It was at Bear Mountain that the embryonic ballplayers appeared in the war time training camp,” Bo Gill recalled in a 1968 edition of the Evening News. “Duke Snider, Bobby Morgan, Buddy Hicks, Clem Labine and Steve Lemo [sic], 17, and Tommy Brown and Preston Ward, 16, were to be the stars of the future as the Dodgers, under Leo Durocher, made the change from age to youth.”

As soon as the 1944 season ended, Hicks and Snider traveled cross country to return home to California. With the war escalating, Snider knew that their days as civilians were numbered.

“I made the trip back to the West Coast with my Newport News roomie, Buddy Hicks,” Snider said in his autobiography, "The Duke of Flatbush.”

“We didn’t need to be reminded there was a war on; the evidence was all around us. The train was filled with uniformed servicemen and women traveling home on leave or returning to camp or—worst of all—being shipped overseas. I was looking forward to a few more months of good times, but the Selective Service System didn’t fool around in those days. With more than ten million people in uniform and the manpower needs growing all the time, your friendly neighborhood draft board had a way of letting you know you were always in its thoughts.”

Hicks joined the Navy and didn’t return to baseball until 1947. Upon his arrival, he encountered a flood of ballplayers that finished their service and were looking to regain their places in the organization.

“When I got out of the service, I went back and played some sandlot ball to get me back in shape,” he said. “There were 800 of us in spring training with the Dodgers coming back from the war.”

Used almost exclusively a shortstop in the minor leagues, Hicks was stuck behind Pee Wee Reese on the Dodgers. When the Dodgers tried him out at second and third base, he was looking up to Jackie Robinson and Billy Cox respectively. While he couldn’t crack their major league lineup, the Dodgers thought enough of his abilities to keep a high asking price on his services.

In 1949, when Reese got hurt in spring training, Hicks attracted the eyes of Chicago Cubs scout Red Smith. Dodgers manager Burt Shotton held firm to the Dodger creed that if other teams wanted their players, they would have to dig deep in their coffers.

“Sure we’ve got the men they want. … But they can’t get them for a dime. … We haven’t got that kind. They’re going to have to come up with their prices if they want our boys,” Burt Shotton was quoted as saying in Bob Mack’s “Bird Hunting in Brooklyn.”

The fact that the Dodgers were playing hardball with moving Hicks to another organization frustrated him. He always felt that the constant movement in their farm clubs, combined with their outrageous asking prices, hindered his rise to the major leagues.

“There were a lot of guys coming down from the majors and then working their way [back] up,” he said. “The Dodgers had 27 farm clubs that year, all the way from Class D to AAA. They had three AAA farm clubs. The Dodgers tried to draft talent, and if they couldn't use them, they would sell them. I learned later that the Washington Senators were interested and the Dodgers wanted $100,000; that ended things for me.”

A knee injury in 1950 hampered his performance with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League. Hicks batted only .239 and in October, the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies purchased Hicks’ contract from Hollywood. Finally, there was a team willing to meet the Dodgers asking price.

Quickly, Hicks’ fortunes were about to turn. No longer buried deep in the Dodgers farm system, there was immediately opportunity for him at the big league level with the Phillies. On July 3, 1951, the Phillies recalled Hicks from Atlanta of the Southern Association. Now there was more for him to celebrate other than Independence Day; however, his glee was short lived.

For two weeks, Hicks sat on the bench and never once did manager Eddie Sawyer call for his entry. On July 17th, the Phillies returned Hicks to Atlanta without him ever playing in a major league game. Despite this tease of major league immortality, Hicks pressed on.

His contract was sold to the Boston Braves organization the next year and then to the Detroit Tigers to start the 1953 season. For two more seasons, Hicks battled at the Triple-A level, waiting for his break. Finally in 1956, his efforts were vindicated when the Tigers kept him on the roster when they broke from spring training.

“Joe Gordon was instrumental in getting me up there,” Hicks said. “He said if he was managing, I would have been playing short and Harvey Kuenn would be in the outfield. What got me up was when Frank Bolling came out of the service. I spent most of my career at shortstop and I had trouble making the transition from short to second. I think the throw from second more than anything was the hardest thing for me. You have your back to the runner trying to make a double play. It just didn't work out for me.”

Hicks recalled how he could hardly keep calm during his first major league at-bat. It was in the 9th inning with the Tigers down 2-1 to the Kansas City Athletics.

“My first at-bat was a disaster,” he stated. “I was a really good bunter. My knees were shaking so bad, I could hardly stand up. They sent me in to bunt the person over from second to third and I popped the damn thing up to the catcher. That was very disastrous for me.”

Hicks played in 26 games for the Tigers in 1956 at every infield position except first base, handling 52 chances without an error. He hit only .213 and was sent down to the minor leagues in July. It was his final call to the majors.

“I went from Detroit to Charleston,” he said. “I played the first year-and-a-half, and then I was a player coach under Bill Norman.”

He continued as a player-manager through 1962, spanning 17 seasons in which he amassed over 1,700 hits in the minor leagues. Overlapping with the end of his playing career, he spent 10 seasons as a minor league manager in the Braves and Senators systems from 1960-1969 before calling it quits. He then spent the next 20 years working first in sales, and then managing an automobile parts business in California before retiring in 1990.

Kal Segrist Jr.

(1931 - 2015)

Published in Dallas Morning News on July 1, 2015

Kal Hill Segrist Jr., longtime Texas Tech baseball coach and a great player in his own right, died Friday, June 26, 2015 at Carrillon LifeCare Community in Lubbock. He was 84.

He was born April 14, 1931, in Greenville, Texas, and attended Adamson High School in Dallas, playing on a team that won two state baseball championships his sophomore and junior years and that made the state finals his senior year.

He signed a baseball scholarship to the University of Texas, and played in the Longhorns' National Championship season in 1950, the first time Rosenblatt Field in Omaha, Neb., hosted the College World Series. Segrist led the Southwest Conference with a .442 batting average for the season and was named to the national championship all-tournament team.

He turned professional the following year, signing with the New York Yankees in 1951. He was hampered throughout his professional career with chronic knee problems.

His time with the Yankees ended when he and 16 other players were part of the "Big Trade" between New York and Baltimore in 1955, at the time the largest trade in Major League Baseball history. He spent 11 years playing professionally, including stints in Canada, the Pacific League and the Texas League. After retiring from baseball, Segrist finished his bachelor's degree at the University of North Texas.

He worked for a time in the Dallas public schools before heading to Texas Tech to work as an assistant baseball coach and to earn his master's degree in physical education.

He became head baseball coach in 1968. At the time, Tech's baseball field had several trees in the outfield and a backstop that would blow over in a strong breeze. Segrist earned Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1969 and in 1980, when the Red Raiders appeared in the postseason conference tournament for the first time.

He won the honor a third time after his final season as head coach in 1983. During his tenure, he served on the NCAA baseball rules committee. He retired from the head coaching slot after leading the effort to build the stadium that houses the Red Raiders to this day. At the time, the head coaching position at Tech was a part-time job, and Segrist continued teaching softball, basketball refereeing and archery in the Physical Education Department until his retirement in 1994.

He is a member of the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Honor as well as the Adamson High School Hall of Honor. He spent his retirement years living in Lubbock, tending to the family farm in Hico, Texas, and visiting and coaching his grandchildren.

He and his wife are members of Lubbock's First United Methodist Church and the Hi Robinson Sunday school class.

Kal Segrist, Jr., was the son of Samye Bethel and Kal Segrist, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Rebecca Garvin Segrist of Lubbock; six children: Kathy Smith of Waco; Susan Vestal of College Station; Khris Segrist of Lubbock; Scott Segrist of Lubbock, Sunny Betts of Annandale, Va.; Samuel Segrist of Martinez, Ga.; a sister, Kay Julian of Garland; and 10 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a grandson, Tom Vestal of College Station.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to be sent to the Kal Segrist Scholarship Fund, Attn: Chris Snead, Box 45001, Lubbock TX 79409-5001, or to the Hospice of Lubbock Foundation at http://www.hospiceoflubbock.ora/.

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, July 2 at First United Methodist Church of Hico. Visitation will precede the service from 10 a.m. to noon at Harvest Hills Funeral Home in Hico.

There will be a memorial service at 2 p.m. on July 6 at First United Methodist Church of Lubbock. Harvest Hills Funeral Home 254-796-4722.