Recent Passings

Hector Maestri, 78, pitched for both Washington Senators teams

Nick Diunte
Baseball History Examiner
February 22, 2014

Hector Maestri, one of only nine major leaguers to ever play for both versions of the Washington Senators, passed away Friday February 21, 2014 in Miami according to his former teammate Jose Padilla. He was 78.

Born April 19, 1935 in La Habana, Cuba, Maestri was originally signed as a shortstop to the Senators organization in 1956 by the legendary scout Joe Cambria. Excited with the opportunity to follow in the Senators pipeline of rich Cuban talent, Maestri’s world was turned upside down only a few weeks into his professional baseball career.

“I played three [sic] games in Fort Walton Beach and they released me,” said Maestri in a 2012 interview with the author.

Even though Maestri was deeply disappointed by the lack of a time the Senators gave him, he did not want to return to Cuba. Instead, he went to Houston to live with his uncle and work. It was there that he had a second chance at his baseball career.

“My uncle introduced me to a Mexican-American who had a baseball team out there,” he said. “The guy wanted me to play with him, so they gave me a job and I played baseball.”

While he was playing on the semi-pro circuit in Houston, he was approached by Senators scout Joe Pastor who offered him another shot with Washington. Maestri had his reservations about re-signing with the organization.

“I told him I was very angry because they didn’t give me a chance,” he said. “Fifteen days wasn’t enough.”

After Pastor reassured him that he would get a longer look, Cambria signed Maestri during the off-season in Cuba. Blessed with an exceptional arm, Maestri still fancied himself as a shortstop, but the Senators had other plans. Maestri split time between pitching and the infield in 1957 with Class D Elmira, N.Y., but when he was asked to pitch an impromptu bullpen session for Senators Vice President Joe Haynes during spring training in 1958, management made it very clear what his permanent role would be.

“The bullpen was near the clubhouse,” he recalled. “Anytime you threw the ball, there was a big echo. When I threw the ball, I looked [over] at him and he was smiling.

“The people in the clubhouse came out and said, ‘Dammit, who was throwing that ball?’ I was throwing very, very hard. We didn’t have radar guns, but they told me I was around 95. Mr. Joe Haynes came to me and said, ‘If I see you in the infield, I will throw you out. You are a pitcher.’”

Maestri spent another season at Elmira honing his craft on the mound, and it paid off. He finished with a 16-11 record, broke the league record for strikeouts and earned MVP honors for the team.

“I broke the strikeout record of Sal Maglie,” Maestri said. “He had 198 and I put [up] 210 in 156 innings.”

In 1959, he inched his way closer to the majors, playing at Class B Fox Cities where he was pared up with player-manager Jack McKeon. His 11-7 record earned him a AAA contract with Washington’s affiliate in Charleston.

He went home that winter and pitched for Cienfuegos in the Cuban Winter League, leading them to not only the league championships, but a sweep of the 1960 Caribbean Series.

It was the beginning of a year filled with highlights for the hard-throwing Cuban pitcher; however, it wasn't a straight rise to the top. Coming off of his championships in winter ball, he hit a bump in the road at the end of spring training in 1960. Just as the season was about to start, Charleston sent him down to Charlotte in the Class A Sally League. He wasn’t pleased with the decision and set out to prove to management that they made a mistake demoting him.

“I go to Charlotte, and on the first day our manager Gene Verble, told me I was going to be in short relief,” he recalled.

Verble summoned Maestri to close the game, and he delivered the goods.

“I threw nine pitches and struck out all three guys.”

Nineteen-sixty was a banner year for Maestri. He was cited in the August 28, 1960 issue of Sports Illustrated for pitching a perfect game in relief during the course of the season.

“Hector Maestri, Charlotte (N.C.) South Atlantic League relief pitcher, did not give up a walk, a hit or a run in hurling nine consecutive innings of perfect baseball over a five-game span, went 16 consecutive innings before yielding his first hit.”

Cut from the organization only a few years earlier, Maestri made good on his second calling, earning a promotion to the major league club when rosters expanded in September. Biding his time in the bullpen, he finally was put into action on September 24, 1960 in relief against the Baltimore Orioles.

“I pitched two innings and didn’t allow any runs,” he said.

Maestri carried that momentum into winter ball, winning another championship with Cienfuegos. Along with his second championship came another career altering event, the 1961 Expansion Draft.

The original Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins and Washington created a new team to represent the nation’s capital. The new Senators paid Clark Griffith $75,000 for the rights to Maestri. He saw this as an opportunity to negotiate for a higher salary.

“At that time the big league contract was $6,000,” he said. “I was so fresh, I said, ‘If you don’t give me $15,000, I don’t go.’”

To further complicate matters, relations between Fidel Castro and the United States went sour, leaving the future of all of the Cuban players, including Maestri in doubt. Luckily for Maestri, tensions eased up and he was able to negotiate a raise to $11,000.

Unfortunately, all of his negotiation didn’t account to much because Maestri couldn’t curry enough favor with manager Mickey Vernon to make his way up north with the team to start the season. Vernon thought Maestri needed more seasoning and sent him back to the minors for most of 1961.

Once again, determined to show he belonged, he burned up the Sally League with a 10-1 record for Columbia. This impressive performance forced the Senators and manager Vernon to take another look at the Cuban fireballer.

“I was a relief pitcher all my baseball career,” he said. “Mickey Vernon came to me and said, ‘You are pitching tomorrow, starting against Kansas City.”

Not used to starting, Maestri soldiered on anyways. He took the ball and went six strong innings against the Athletics.

“I lost 2-1 and that was it.”

He wouldn’t get back to the major leagues for the remainder of his baseball career, and almost didn’t get back to the United States. After the 1962 season, he returned to Cuba to see his newborn son. At the time, Castro wasn’t letting anymore players freely leave the country.

“When I got in Cuba, they didn’t let me get out. That ruined my career.”

Maestri was done at 27, or so he thought.

“I had taken a few years off when I got a call from the Mexican League to play ball,” Maestri said. “Veracruz called me. They asked what I wanted. I told them I wanted a visa for my wife and my two sons. They told me, no problem. That’s how I got out of Cuba, [through] Mexico, in 1965.

“When I finished the league in Mexico, I went to the United States embassy in Veracruz and I asked for asylum. They didn’t give it to me, but they gave me a chance to talk to a wonderful guy, Phil Howser. (The general manager of the Charlotte minor league team.) I told him that I didn’t want to go back to Cuba anymore. He said, ‘Stay right there in the embassy, let me talk to the ambassador.’ I didn’t know what he was talking about. The guy came to me and told me to go back to my apartment and come back tomorrow morning. I got my visa and jumped.”

Charlotte signed him for the 1965 season. He played one more year in the United States for the Wilson Tobs in 1966. Citing the lack of pay and burdensome travel schedule, he moved on from professional baseball.

“If you have a family, you have to do something because you can’t travel with your family,” he said. “My two sons had to go to school, so I said to my wife let’s go. I bought a car up there and came to Miami.”

Maestri had his own business career in Miami and his wife worked for the telephone company. Both of his sons grew up to be engineers, something he was very proud of.

“I owned my house and my kids got their education. It was wonderful.”


Seattle U legend Ed O’Brien dies at 83

Ed O’Brien, half of the legendary O’Brien twins, led Seattle U in basketball and baseball and was the school’s athletic director before a career in Major League Baseball.

By Bud Withers
Seattle Times staff reporter
February 21, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Eddie O’Brien, 83, a legendary figure in Seattle University athletics who played alongside his twin brother at SU and in the major leagues in the 1950s, died Friday morning.

O’Brien played baseball and basketball with his brother Johnny at Seattle U and was athletic director at the school from 1958-80.

He was an ardent fan of the Redhawks — known as the Chieftains when he was playing and working for the school — and attended their most recent basketball game Thursday night with Grand Canyon at KeyArena. He was a member of the baseball board for the school and of its hall of fame committee.

“He was there last night, bantering with all the guys he usually sits with,” said his step-daughter Jill. “He was literally the most generous, giving man I know, always positive. He had great stories to tell. He had a very full and colorful life.”

The O’Briens hailed from South Amboy, N.J., and came west to Seattle U after meeting basketball coach Al Brightman at a semi-pro tournament in Wichita, Kan., in 1949. Eddie, 5-9, averaged 13 points a game and helped SU to the 1952 NIT and 1953 NCAA tournaments.

They made a bigger mark in baseball, however. Both were signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953, and played together from 1953 to 1958. Eddie had 554 major-league at-bats and hit .236, playing primarily shortstop, center ield and third base.

His stepdaughter said that perhaps once a week, he’d still get baseball cards in the mail from fans, which he’d autograph, take to Johnny to sign, and then return them.

After he finished his baseball career, he began as AD with Seattle U, also serving as baseball coach for 14 years, with a record of 276-135. In 1969, he was bullpen coach with the Seattle Pilots for their one season.

O’Brien was still a strong supporter of Redhawks athletics in his later years, especially as the school made the transition back to NCAA Division I. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease this winter but remained active in school-related functions.

“He was not only just a terrific person, but he dedicated himself to Seattle U,” said Bill Hogan, the school’s athletic director. “He was always doing stuff for our baseball program, our basketball program and me personally.

“There will never be another like him; he was just a unique, caring individual that loved his university. My whole department, they all loved him. He helped everybody.”

Survivors include his wife Terry and six children. Services are pending.


Purcell Marian's Denson a player who could do it all


By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Feb. 14, 2014


Drew Denson was an outsized superstar at Purcell Marian, a gifted 6-foot-5 athlete who averaged 20 points per game in basketball and once hit a baseball an estimated 500-plus feet.

Denson, who played major league baseball for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox, died Thursday at age 48. Cause of death was not listed but Denson had suffered from a rare blood disease called amyloidosis, a condition in which abnormal protein deposits cause organs and tissues to deteriorate.

Hep Cronin, a former Atlanta Braves scout and father of University of Cincinnati men's basketball coach Mick Cronin, was chiefly responsible for Denson being the Braves' No. 1 draftee (19th overall) in 1984.

“I not only thought he would be playing in the big leagues, I thought he would be a Hall of Famer,” Cronin said Friday. “He had Frank Thomas power. He was big and strong and the ball just jumped off his bat.”

One such instance came in Denson's Purcell Marian days, which included a mammoth home run at the Northside K of C complex on Blue Rock Road. The homer is part of Cincinnati baseball lore, with some claiming the ball sailed more than 500 feet.

“Left field had a 30- to 40-foot high fence with homes behind it, and it hit the roof of the second house,” said Dave Gehring, who was Denson's baseball coach at Purcell Marian. “At that time nobody thought about measuring it, but obviously it was a no-doubter. People still talk about it.”

Denson was all-city in both basketball and baseball. Current Purcell Marian athletic director Kenny Pope said that Denson's basketball jersey is still displayed at the school, along with a list of his achievements.

“His name is everywhere here,” Pope said.

In baseball, Denson was a switch-hitter who played first base.

“When he first signed, the big leaguers used to come out and watch him take batting practice,” Cronin said. “Dale Murphy and Bob Horner would come out to watch him.”

Denson played a dozen professional seasons but never made it big in the majors. An abdominal injury set him back, and Denson wound up playing only 16 major league games - 12 with the Braves, four with the White Sox. Denson had a .244 batting average in 41 career at-bats, with no homers and five RBI.

“He tore some abdominal muscle and it took him forever to rehab that thing, trying to get it back to full strength,” Cronin said. “I'm not sure it ever did.”

Denson eventually became a Cincinnati police officer but was forced to retire because of his blood disease.

Denson in 2011 was listed No. 36 on The Enquirer all-time Greater Cincinnati prep baseball team, and he was No. 51 on The Enquirer list of all-time best multi-sport prep athletes.

According to Walker Funeral Home, services for Denson will be Feb. 22 (visitation 1-2 p.m., services 2-3 p.m.) at Zion Global Ministry in West Chester, 9180 Cincinnati Columbus Road.

The Enquirer on Friday asked several Cincinnati prep sports figures for their memories of Denson. Tributes included:

• Sycamore athletic director Jim Stoll, a former Purcell Marian head basketball coach, was a Purcell assistant baseball and basketball coach when Denson played:

“Drew Denson was the best high school athlete that I've seen anywhere in the United States of America, but he was even a better person. It is truly a sad day.”

• Andy Poli, former Summit Country Day head baseball coach who played summer ball against Denson:

“I grew up in that era with guys like Drew, Barry Larkin, Todd Benzinger and Jim Leyritz. I've seen them all, and Drew was the best I ever saw. He was built like Dave Parker and athletically he was very comparable. He could run, throw and hit. If he wanted to be a pitcher, he could have been the best pitcher in the city.”

• Calvin Johnson, Winton Woods girls basketball coach and incoming Princeton football coach, played youth ball against Denson and later was Denson's supervisor with the Cincinnati police:

“He was a great human being. He looked big and intimidating but he was just a big, gentle bear with tremendous athletic ability. He was one of the best guys I ever knew.”


Jim Fregosi, manager of '93 Phillies, dies at 71

CSNPhilly.com
February 14, 2014, 7:15 am


Jim Fregosi, manager of one of the most popular Phillies teams in club history, died Friday morning at the age of 71.

With family by his side in a Miami hospital, Fregosi died just before 3 a.m., six days after suffering multiple strokes while on a Major League Baseball alumni cruise in the Caribbean. He was hospitalized in the Cayman Islands before being transported to Miami.

The manager of the 1993 Phillies, who went from last place the previous season to the sixth game of the World Series, Fregosi spent the last 13 years as a special assistant to Atlanta Braves’ general manager, Frank Wren. His son, Jim Fregosi Jr., spent 10 years with the Phillies as a scout and currently works for the Kansas City Royals.

Irascible and combative, Fregosi pushed, prodded, cajoled and fought alongside the ’93 Phillies as they won 97 games, upset the Braves in the NLCS and nearly knocked off the defending world champion Toronto Blue Jays.

From 1991 to 1996, Fregosi went 431-463 with the Phillies and got them to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

Born in San Francisco, Fregosi was raised in San Mateo, Calif. where he attended Junipero Serra High School, breeding ground for the likes of Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann and Tom Brady. In high school Fregosi earned 11 varsity letters in baseball, basketball, football and track before graduating in 1959. Two years later, at age 19, Fregosi broke in with the Angels and was off on a successful big league career.

A six-time All-Star and a gold glover at shortstop for the Angels, Fregosi’s No. 11 was retired by the club in 1988. A year later he was the second player inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame. In his 18 years in the majors, Fregosi played for the Mets, Rangers and Pirates. Upon being released by the Pirates in the middle of the 1978 season at age 36, Fregosi took over as manager of the Angels and guided the team to the AL West title a year later.

Though he had a successful playing career and owns the Angels’ franchise record for triples and career WAR (he ranks in the top five in at-bats, plate appearances, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, walks, RBIs, extra-base hits, sacrifices and games played), managing is where Fregosi made his mark.

For 15 seasons Fregosi led the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays. He got to the playoffs twice and managed notable players like Don Baylor, Fred Lynn, Mike Witt, Ozzie Guillen, Jack McDowell, David Wells and Roy Halladay.

Fregosi also managed Hall of Famers, Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk and Nolan Ryan. It was Ryan that Fregosi was infamously traded for after the 1971 season. At the time, Fregosi was an 11-year veteran battling injuries and Ryan was a pitcher who had yet to reach his potential.

Seven years later, Fregosi was Ryan’s manager with the Angels.

But it was with the Phillies where Fregosi had his most success. In 1993, Fregosi’s Phillies took over the city with a roster that featured veterans Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, Dave Hollins, John Kruk, Danny Jackson, Curt Schilling and Mitch Williams. It was a team of hard charging yet often injured players who came together for one wild ride.

In a Sports Illustrated story from May 10, 1993, Fregosi was given the credit for pulling together the divergent personalities and egos on the Phillies.

“The actual pilot of these Phillies is 51-year-old Jim Fregosi, who deserves credit for not restraining the Phillies' diverse personalities and thus for not restraining their play on the field. He even plays cards with them,” Sports Illustrated offered.

The ’93 Phillies opened the season with three straight wins in Houston and went 17-5 in April. By the second week of June the Phillies were 45-17 and held a 10-game lead over the rest of the NL East. The lead dipped to three games in July, but never got below that as the Phillies cruised to their first division title since 1983.

It was with that ’93 team that players like Daulton, Dykstra, Kruk and Hollins had career-best years and Jackson, Williams and Larry Andersen milked one last good one from a long career. It was also during ’93 that Schilling first came to the fore as a big-game pitcher by winning the NLCS MVP and tossing a shutout in Game 5 of the World Series at the Vet.

At his core, though, Fregosi was a baseball lifer. Since 1961 when he broke in with the Angels, he spent his spring and summer days at the ballpark as either a player, manager or scout. As a manager Fregosi was famous for trading barbs and anecdotes with the writers assigned to cover his teams.

In later years, Fregosi could be found holding court in the press box before a game trading stories with other baseball lifers before taking a seat behind home plate to scout the game.

Fregosi delivered the eulogy at the funeral of long-time Phillies’ coach John Vukovich. He was also briefly a candidate for the Phillies’ managerial job before the team hired Charlie Manuel.

Fregosi resided in Tarpon Springs, Fla. with his wife, Joni. He also had five children, Jim Jr., Jennifer, Nicole, Robert, and Lexi.


Mets legend Ralph Kiner dead at 91


By David Satriano
The New York Post
February 6, 2014 | 3:43pm

Ralph Kiner, the Hall of Fame outfielder and legendary broadcaster for the New York Mets, died Thursday morning of natural causes at his home in California. He was 91.

Mets fans knew Kiner as one of the voices of the team since its inception in 1962. Along with Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, Kiner broadcasted the Mets on television and radio. He made brief guest appearances in the broadcast booth in recent years as his health declined.

“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman,” owner Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, wit, and charm entertained generations of Mets fans. Like his stories, he was one of a kind.”

New York fans remember Kiner’s famous home run call of, “It is gone, goodbye!”, as well as the legendary “Kiner’s Korner” interview program that aired after each Mets game. He was also noted for his “Kinerisms,” which included “Solo home runs usually occur with no one on base” and “All of his saves have come in relief appearances.”

Before his announcing career with the Mets, Kiner was baseball’s top power hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He led the National League in home runs for seven consecutive seasons from 1946-1952, topping out at 54 in 1949.

In 1953, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and spent one season there before moving on to the Cleveland Indians. Kiner was forced to retire prematurely due to a back injury the following year.

Kiner’s career numbers — 369 home runs, 1,105 RBIs and a .279 batting average over 10 seasons — earned him induction to Cooperstown in 1975. He was a six time All-Star, but never made it to the postseason. Kiner was voted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1984, and his number 4 was retired by the Pirates in 1987.

Kiner had been battling bell’s palsy since 1998, and as a result he could not call Mets games regularly due to his slurred speech. On July 14, 2007, the Mets honored him with “Ralph Kiner Night” at Shea Stadium with dozens of former players on hand.

Kiner’s wife, Di Ann, succumbed to cancer in 2004. He is survived by five children and 12 grandchildren.


Padres announcer Coleman dies at 89


War hero won four titles with Yankees, called games in NY, San Diego

By Corey Brock / MLB.com | 1/5/2014 9:27 P.M. ET


SAN DIEGO -- Iconic broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who spent 71 years in the game as a player and later in the broadcast booth, passed away on Sunday. He was 89.

Coleman, who won the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting in 2005, was an infielder for the Yankees from 1949-57 and was the only active Major League player to see combat in two military conflicts -- World War II and the Korean conflict.

According to UT-San Diego, Coleman died at Scripps Hospital after complications of head injuries he suffered in a fall recently and that he had been in and out of the hospital.

Coleman called games on radio for the Padres from 1972 through last season. The only exception was when he managed the team in 1980.

The team released a statement on Sunday: "The San Diego Padres are deeply saddened by the news today of the passing of Jerry Coleman. We send our heartfelt sympathy to the entire Coleman family, including his wife, Maggie, his children and grandchildren.

"On behalf of Padres' fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a Marine who was truly an American hero as well as a great man, a great friend and a great Padre."

Coleman was elected to the Padres' Hall of Fame in 2001.

Even in his later years, when he had more than enough time to be introspective about his life and all he accomplished, Coleman did his best to steer clear of the spotlight. Coleman never understood what all the fuss was about and would much rather talk about his buddy -- 11-year-old German shepherd Gus -- who he dutifully took for walks each morning before sunrise near his home in La Jolla.

"Jerry was a great human being," Padres manager Bud Black said on Sunday. "What I loved about Jerry was he was a guy that truly loved life, loved being around the ballpark, loved the Padres, he was very well-liked within our clubhouse, stadium and the city.

"It was his presence for so long here in San Diego and his connection with the Padres and the military. He was so far-reaching in the amount of people that he touched over the years. He's going to be truly missed but never forgotten."

In 2012, the Padres had a pregame ceremony to unveil the Jerry Coleman statue at Petco Park. He was humbled by it, but, again, didn't feel like he was deserving of such an honor.

Commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement Sunday evening regarding the passing of Coleman:

"Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball. He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime -- as an All-Star during the great Yankees' dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres. But above all, Jerry's decorated service to our country in both World War II and Korea made him an integral part of the Greatest Generation. He was a true friend whose counsel I valued greatly.

"Major League Baseball began its support of Welcome Back Veterans to honor the vibrant legacy of heroes like Jerry Coleman. Our entire sport mourns the loss of this fine gentleman, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans of the Padres and the Yankees, and his many admirers in Baseball and beyond."

Coleman's military service record includes 120 missions, earning him two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations. He retired from the United States Marine Corps at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

If you tried to get Coleman to talk about his time in the Marines as a bomber pilot, he would do so, but only reluctantly. The harrowing bombing runs, especially in Korea, as well as the friends that he lost in both wars bothered him to no end.

"The guys who didn't come back ... they were the real heroes," Coleman often said.

Coleman was, to all who knew him, one of a kind.

"I have a theory about Jerry, that there is no one like him in American sports," said longtime Padres broadcaster Ted Leitner in 2012.

"No one has left their career to fight in combat for their country twice and never once complained," said Leitner. "… Jerry will always say, 'Don't tell anyone I'm special, and don't tell anyone I'm a hero.'"

One of Coleman's former teammates during his time with the Yankees, Charlie Silvera, grew up in the Bay Area with Coleman.

"Jerry is an All-American, a bona fide hero," Silvera said in 2012. "He's my hero."

Coleman met Silvera in 1934 when they were 10 and playing baseball on old dusty fields at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Silvera and Coleman were later joined in baseball circles by Bobby Brown. The three would become stars on local diamonds and played together in the fall and winter on a team sponsored by the Yankees.

Coleman was such a good athlete that he was given a scholarship to play baseball and basketball at USC -- "I wasn't a good shot, but I could run like the devil," he said -- but those plans were interrupted when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of his senior year of high school.

"That changed everything," Coleman said.

Coleman, still nearly a year from turning 18, signed with the Yankees, as did Silvera, and they headed off to a Class D team in Wellsville, N.Y. Coleman was an instant hit, batting .304 in 83 games, although he was merely biding his time until he was old enough to enlist in the Marines to become a fighter pilot.

Coleman returned from the war in 1946 and reported for Spring Training. Despite missing four seasons, Coleman played as though he hadn't missed any time at all. He spent three seasons in the Minor Leagues before arriving in New York for good in 1949.

A shortstop by trade, Coleman hit .275 for the Yankees during his rookie year as a second baseman, teaming with Phil Rizzuto for a potent double-play combination. He was named the Associated Press Rookie of the Year in 1949.

He played alongside Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio, who was a hero to Coleman, as DiMaggio -- 10 years Coleman's senior -- grew up playing on those same fields in San Francisco.

"My family was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Coleman," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "First and foremost, he was an American hero whose service to this country is his lasting legacy. He was also a great Yankee, a true ambassador for baseball, and someone whose imprint on our game will be felt for generations. On behalf of the entire New York Yankees organization, we send our deepest condolences to the Coleman family."

The 1949 team was the first of five consecutive World Series champion teams that Coleman was a part of, even though his second stint in the military (Korean War) would cost him Major League service time in 1952-53.

He never considered it time lost, though. Coleman always held his time in the military in high regard and often said he was born to be a Marine.

Coleman played his last game in 1957 before getting into broadcasting in 1960. But he scoffed when the opportunity first presented himself.

"The last thing I thought I would become was a broadcaster," Coleman once said. "Howard Cosell, who was a good friend of mine, asked me if I would be interested in it. I told him he was nuts."

Coleman started out calling the national game of the week for CBS, and he began calling Yankees games in 1963. Working and living in New York, Coleman said, was intense. He lived in Ridgewood, N.J., which was "19.9 miles from Yankee Stadium, but a million miles from New York."

Craving a change of scenery, Coleman bolted for the West Coast -- without a job -- before getting a job as part of the Angels' broadcast team. Not long thereafter, Buzzie Bavasi, the first general manager of the Padres, convinced him to come to San Diego, where he became the lead broadcaster in 1972.

He never left.

Coleman delighted fans with his quick wit in the broadcast booth. Fans laughed with him, especially in those moments that later became known as "Colemanisms," the funny comments and remarks he made during games -- "Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen" -- and the one directed at 1976 National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones.

"I remember one day I was in the bullpen throwing in between starts," Jones said. "Jerry looked down there and said, 'There's Randy Jones on the mound with the Karl Marx hairdo.' I had the big curly hair back then. But he called me a Communist. Instead of calling me Harpo Marx, he called me Karl Marx. I loved that one."

Coleman had worked Sunday afternoon games and weekday day games at home in recent years, but even on days when he wasn't scheduled to work, he would often be at the ballpark, making his rounds through the clubhouse. A cup of coffee in one hand and a hot dog pierced by a plastic fork in the other, Coleman often stopped to talk to players before games.

"Being around him, he was excited every day. He had energy and passion for the game," Padres third baseman Chase Headley said. "He was still very aware of what was going on [on the field]. You could have a conversation with him about a certain play and he'd be right on top of things.

"[Seeing him] was a bright spot every day."

Paul Blair, former Orioles center fielder, is dead at 69

By Dan Connolly and Mike Klingaman
The Baltimore Sun
11:21 p.m. EST, December 26, 2013

Paul Blair, a key member of four Orioles' World Series teams and considered the best defensive outfielder in franchise history, died Thursday evening in Pikesville while participating in a celebrity bowling tournament, according to Gloria Blair, his wife of 42 years.

He was 69.

Gloria Blair said her husband played 18 holes of golf with friends Thursday morning, and when he came home was asked to take part in a celebrity bowling tournament at AMF Pikesville Lanes.

"Paul was honestly too tired, but he never says no," she said. "During a practice round, he threw two or three balls, then sat down and told a friend, 'I feel funny' and kind of collapsed. He lost consciousness and they called 911 and the ambulance took him to [Sinai Hospital], but the doctors there told me they never got a pulse. I was told he died around 6:45 p.m."

On Dec. 23, 2009, Mr. Blair suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Howard County General, where a stent was inserted, and he returned home Christmas Day.

Over the years, Mr. Blair, a resident of Woodstock in Howard County, worked as an Orioles' spring training instructor and was a fixture at old-timers' events in the Baltimore area.

He spent 13 of his 17 seasons with the Orioles, winning two World Series (1966, 1970) and capturing eight Gold Gloves as the club's sure-handed center fielder. The Orioles acquired him in the first-year player draft from the New York Mets in the 1962 offseason, and he made his debut in the majors at age 20 in 1964.

By 1966, he had emerged as a competent hitter and force with the glove. He then became a mainstay atop the Orioles' dangerous order.

Known as "Motormouth," Mr. Blair won seven consecutive Gold Gloves from 1969 until 1975, the second-most in club history — and earned the reputation of covering more ground than just about any outfielder in his day. Videos of No. 6 running to the wall to make a basket catch or sprinting in, grabbing a liner and catapulting his body with a throw are etched into Orioles' lore.

He's also remembered for his frantic dashes around the diamond, leading the league in triples with 12 in 1967. He batted .474 with nine hits in the Orioles' 1970 World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds and might have been the Series MVP if it weren't for the amazing play of Brooks Robinson.

The Orioles traded Mr. Blair to the New York Yankees before the 1977 season for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt, and he played on two more World Series champions in the Bronx. He also played briefly with the Reds before ending his career in 1980 with the Yankees.

Al Bumbry, who eventually replaced Mr. Blair as the Orioles center fielder, started out in left field because center was Mr. Blair's domain.

"He taught me a lot, a lot about playing. He always made me feel comfortable. It wasn't like we were competing for the same position," Mr. Bumbry said. "He played very shallow and I would always marvel about how he played as shallow as he did and how well he could go back on balls."

Mr. Blair was a career .250 hitter with 134 homers and 171 stolen bases, and three times in his career he hit 17 or more homers and stole 20 or more bases in the same season.

Throughout their time together as players and later on the celebrity golf circuit, Mr. Bumbry said, "Motormouth" didn't stop talking.

"He was that way; he never stopped talking, and it wasn't always about baseball. I figured all the Gold Gloves he won gave him the right to talk," Mr. Bumbry said. "He was very humorous, so funny. Everybody loved him."

William L. Tremel

The Tribune-Democrat
December 23, 2013

TREMEL – William L., 84, Altoona, died peacefully Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, at Presbyterian Home, Hollidaysburg, after a brief illness.

Born July 4, 1929, in Lilly, son of the late Charles and Mary (Galla) Tremel. He married Marie Mattiello on Oct. 22, 1950, in Lilly.

Surviving are his wife; daughter, Catherine Ferrero (Joseph), Cheswick; sisters, Dory Moschgat, Cresson; and Joan Sibis (Frank), Lilly; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Preceded in death by brothers, Charles (Ann) Tremel and James (Joanne) Tremel; and sister, Betty (John) Lego; also brother-in-law, Jerry Moschgat.

William was a 1948 graduate of Lilly High School. He was a professional baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, Shreveport Sports (Texas League), Los Angeles and Portland in the Pacific Coast League.

He retired in 1991 as a machine operator from SKF after 30 years of service.

Member of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church. He enjoyed gardening and was a blood donor for more than 40 years. Member of Major League Alumni and Lilly Washington Association. He was elected in 2002 to Cambria County Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Friends will be received from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, at The Stevens Mortuary Inc., 1421 Eighth Ave., Altoona, where vigil for the deceased will be held.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church by Father Timothy Grimme.

Committal, Calvary Cemetery.


Former Indians broadcaster Hegan dies at 71


An All-Star in 1969, first baseman-outfielder played 12 seasons in Majors

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com | 12/25/2013 10:01 P.M. ET

CLEVELAND -- Mike Hegan spent most of his life around the Cleveland Indians. He shagged fly balls in the outfield of Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a boy, played in the ballpark as a visiting big leaguer and went on to call some of the franchise's most memorable games as a broadcaster.

The Indians lost a close friend on Christmas morning.

With family by his side on Wednesday, Hegan passed away in his home of Hilton Head, S.C., after a battle with an untreatable heart condition. He was 71.

Hegan's family ties to Cleveland date back to his father Jim Hegan, the longtime Indians catcher and member of the franchise's 1948 World Series championship team. During Jim's second season with the Tribe in 1942, James Michael "Mike" Hegan was born in Cleveland, where he was raised and embarked on his own path in baseball that had its roots in Northeast Ohio.

Most Indians fans might be more familiar with Hegan's voice than his accomplishments in the Major Leagues. After spending 12 seasons as a color commentator with the Brewers, Hegan joined the Indians' WUAB-TV broadcast team in 1989, alongside Jack Corrigan. Hegan went on to spend 23 years doing play-by-play and color in Cleveland's radio and TV booths.

In 1998, Hegan also was teamed with Tom Hamilton and Dave Nelson as part of a three-person radio broadcast on WTAM and shuttled between radio and television. Matt Underwood replaced Nelson in 2000 and the new trio stayed together through '06, when Underwood moved to TV and Hamilton and Hegan became a two-man team for three seasons, with Hegan focusing solely on radio work.

That partnership continued through 2011, when Hegan transitioned to an alumni ambassador role with the organization to focus more on family and his health. Hegan did return to call his final game on May 23, 2012, when the Indians pulled off a dramatic 4-2 victory over the Tigers.

Before his 50 years in professional baseball, Hegan starred as a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) at St. Ignatius High School on Cleveland's West Side. He was inducted into the St. Ignatius Hall of Fame in 1989. The Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame similarly honored him in 2011.

After one season at Holy Cross, Hegan signed with the Yankees in 1961 and made his big league debut with the club in 1964. A first baseman and outfielder in his career, Hegan appeared in eight games between the regular season and World Series for the '64 Yankees, who lost the Fall Classic to the Cardinals in six games.

Hegan's big league career spanned 12 seasons, which included stints with the Yankees, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A's. He was the first player to sign with Seattle's expansion team and belted the franchise's first home run in his first at-bat on Opening Day in 1969, his lone All-Star season. The Pilots moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers in 1970.

That year, Hegan began an errorless streak at first base that spanned 178 games and extended into the '73 season. It stood as the American League record until Boston's Kevin Youkilis surpassed it in 2007. Hegan also captured a World Series title with the 1972 A's in the midst of that record run.

Later, from his perch high above the playing field, Hegan helped describe many of the Indians' historic moments throughout their incredible run in the '90s. He took pride in not only providing color commentary, but in being able to also provide play-by-play for his audience.

Hegan is survived by his wife, Nancy, his two sons, Shawn and J.J., and four grandchildren.

Ex-White Sox catcher Ed Herrmann dies at 67

Herrmann, who played for the Sox from 1967-1974, had battled prostate cancer

By Colleen Kane
Chicago Tribune
December 22, 2013


Former major league catcher Ed Herrmann, who played for the White Sox for seven seasons from 1967-1974, died Sunday morning at 67. He had battled prostate cancer for years, family friend and former teammate Bill Melton said.

Herrmann played 11 major league seasons with the Sox, Yankees, Angels, Astros and Expos and was named an All-Star in 1974. Melton said Herrmann's ability to catch knuckleball pitchers such as former Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood most stuck out from his career.

Melton, a former Sox third baseman, remembered Herrmann as a popular and easygoing player who insisted on playing every day, even when his allergies grew so bad his eyes were swollen.

"His famous words were, 'I'll be all right,'" Melton said. "You never could get him out of the lineup. He never complained. 'They'll be all right.' That's the way he was."

He remained the same as he battled cancer, Melton said.

After he retired from playing, Herrmann stayed involved in baseball as a scout, tutor, coach and manager of youth teams, according to his website, edherrmann.com. He also helped Melton at Sox fantasy camps.

"Really his whole life was about baseball," Melton said.

News of Herrmann's death was posted Sunday on a Facebook page called "Praying for Ed 'Hoggy' Herrmann and a journal detailing his struggles with cancer.

"Ed lost his battle with cancer at 7:33 a.m. on December 22, but he did win his spiritual battle," the Facebook message read. "We have comfort knowing he is dancing in heaven with his Lord and Savior. For this we are thankful. … Life without Ed for us will be different and difficult, but his memories will keep us going. I love you Hoggy."

Jim Scott Burton
October 27, 1949 - December 12, 2013

Heritage Funeral and Cremation Service
December 14, 2013


Jim Scott Burton, 64, of Charlotte, North Carolina, went to be with his Lord Jesus on December 12, 2013. Jim was born on October 27, 1949 in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was the son of Hubert and Alyce Burton and brother of Robert and Jeffrey Burton.

He was a college graduate of the University of Michigan. After college, Jim fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox for eight years.

Jim was married on November 27, 1976 to Janet Elaine Dryer. After completing his career in baseball, he relocated to Charlotte, NC and started a commercial printing business, which he owned and managed for 30 years.

Jim is survived by his loving and devoted wife Janet, his three adoring daughters Heather Branham and husband Brandon, Sarah Schulte and husband David, and Julie Burton and fiancé Josh.

Jim had two beautiful growing granddaughters Violet Noel and Savannah Elaine and one more precious baby on the way.

Jim is also survived by his loving mother Alyce Burton, and two caring brothers, Robert and Jeffrey Burton.

Visitation for Jim’s family and friends will be held on Tuesday, December 17 from 6-8pm in the Rea Road at Calvary Church. We will celebrate Jim’s life on Wednesday, December 18th at 11am in the sanctuary at Calvary Church.

Burial will immediately follow in Magnolia Memorial Garden at Calvary Church.

Jim first committed his life to the Lord at Campus Crusade at the University of Michigan. Although Jim’s love for baseball, family, and friends was undeniable, it is clear to those who loved and knew him that Jesus Christ was the greatest focus of his life.

Jim was unwavering in his devotion to spend time with God daily and his strongest desire was that all his family would come to share his faith in the Lord.

Jim was a faithful member at Calvary Church for 31 years and he served in many roles. To sum it up, Jim lived by this verse and quoted it often: Jesus said, “I came that they may life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b

The family requests contributions to Search Ministries at 1043 East Morehead St. Suite 105 Charlotte, NC 28204.

Heritage Funeral Home, Weddington Chapel is serving the family of Mr. Burton.


Michigan, Detroit Tigers legend Don Lund dies in Ann Arbor home at age 90

By Jeremy Allen
MLive.com, December 10, 2013

ANN ARBOR – Former University of Michigan three-sport athlete and Hall of Honor inductee Don Lund died in his Glacier Hills home early on Dec. 10 at the age of 90.

Lund had been in hospice care for more than a week before dying at 1 a.m. Tuesday, his son-in-law Bruce Allison said.

“It was natural causes. He was 90 years old and began to slip away,” Allison said.

Lund, who was born in Detroit on May 18, 1923, attended the University of Michigan in the early 1940s and played baseball, basketball and football, lettering nine times as a student-athlete.

In 1945, he was a first-round NFL draft pick of the Chicago Bears, but instead chose to sign a minor league baseball deal with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Two years later – on April 12, 1947 – the Dodgers signed both Lund and Jackie Robinson to their first Major League Baseball contracts.

Lund spent seven seasons in the majors, batting .240 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI in 281 career games.

He returned to U-M as Michigan’s baseball coach from 1959-62, winning the Big Ten championship in 1961 and the national championship – and National Coach of the Year honors – in 1962.

Lund worked in the Detroit Tigers’ front office from 1963-70, then returned to U-M, where he served as an assistant athletic director from 1970 to his retirement in 1992.

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon penned a column on MGoBlue.com after learning of Lund’s death.

“When I attended the University of Michigan as a student-athlete, Mr. Lund was back at Michigan, and for five decades I had the pleasure of knowing one of the most magnanimous men I have ever met,” Brandon wrote in the blog post.

Lund was inducted into the U-M Hall of Honor in 1984 and the state of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.

“I had to be told about Mr. Lund's legendary athletic status. Everything I learned about his athletic prowess I had to learn from somebody else or from reading background information. It was his friendly demeanor and the respect he gave to us as student-athletes that made me appreciate and respect him immediately.”

World War II vet, baseball star has passed away

WYFF4.com
November 25, 2013 8:50 PM EST

WARE SHOALS, S.C. —A local World War II vet and baseball star passed away Monday night.

Leland Victor “Lou” Brissie passed away Monday night, according to the principal of Ware Shoals High School.

Lou Brissie was honored by Ware Shoals High School on Veterans Day along with the rest of the community.

Ware Shoals baseball stadium was renamed after the 89-year-old Brisse, who is a Ware Shoals native.

“A veteran is someone who recognized that we all owe duty to our country -- the nation that gave us the lives that we live; and to each other and our fellow Americans,” Tom Martin, an attorney and Ware Shoals native, told the crowd.

Students learned how Brissie, whose baseball stardom began in the very stadium where they sat, graduated in 1941 and received an offer to play in Major League Baseball. However, he postponed a professional career by choosing to further his education. He attended Presbyterian College and decided to enlist in the military. While serving as a paratrooper corporal in Italy, he was seriously wounded by heavy artillery fire.

“The doctors wanted to amputate Lou’s leg, but he persuaded them to send him to an evacuation hospital,” Mark Lowe, board chair of Ware Shoals School District 51, said from the podium. “Mr. Brissie personified heroism in laying his life down for us. It’s nice to see a true hero.”

Brissie was too ill to attend the ceremony. He watched it from a veterans’ hospital in Augusta, which livestreamed the presentation via the Internet.

“Never in my life has anything touched me as much as this," Brissie said. “It means so much to me for them to do this.”

Brissie earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his service and set his sights on the pitching mound upon returning home. Speakers described Brissie’s determination to recover, his appreciation for penicillin following numerous operations and his 1947 debut in Major League Baseball. His career with the major leagues lasted until 1953 and included an American League All-Star game.

Brissie went on to become the national director of American League baseball and a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves.

While Brissie was able to pursue his baseball dreams after the war, he never forgot about the fate of others in the military.

“He spent countless hours visiting veterans in the hospital, encouraging recovering soldiers to continue in the fight and never give up,” Lowe said.

Brissie’s wife, Diana, attended the ceremony and accepted a plaque on behalf of her husband. She told WYFF that she hopes the students will be inspired by her husband’s life.

“Whether it’s in sports, medicine or whatever they choose to go into, they can overcome obstacles to whatever they put their mind to,” she said.

The city of Ware Shoals and School District 51 are trying to raise money for a new manual scoreboard at Lou Brissie Field.

Michael R. Palagyi

StarBeacon.com
November 23, 2013

CONNEAUT — Michael R. Palagyi, age 96, of Conneaut, died Thursday afternoon, Nov. 21, 2013, at his home.

Mike was born the seventh person of ten, July 4, 1917, in Conneaut, Ohio, the son of Joseph and Anna (Beno) Palagyi. He was a graduate of Conneaut High Class of 1935. Mike was a great baseball player and threw the discus in High School.

In 1936, Mike started a career in Professional Baseball. He was scouted by the Cleveland Indians and later that summer signed a contract to play Class “D” league. At the end of that season he was called to Class “C”, later to “AA and in 1939 Class “A” to Wilkes Barre, Pa. In 1939, he was given a contract with the Washington Senator’s and made his debut against the Boston Red Sox pitching to Hall of Famer Ted Williams. In Mikes own words, “It was a real Nightmare”. In 1941 he was to sign another contract, but he was drafted into the Unites States Army in March of 1941 and was honorably discharged Dec. 12, 1945. Mike tried pitch again but his arm as Mike said, “Just didn’t have it.”

Mike returned to Conneaut, with his wife, Margaret Burr, and worked as a plumber for 20 years. He later went to work at Allied Resinous as a maintenance man until he retired in 1982.

Mike was a member of Corpus Christi Parish and attended both St. Frances Cabrini and St. Mary Church. He was a very devoted man to his family, church and community. Mike loved to watch all sports and could be seen at many high school sporting events throughout the years.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Margaret (Burr) Palagyi whom he married Jan 28, 1945; son, Michael Palagyi; brothers, Joseph Jr., George, James, Louis, Andrew, John and Steve (Pete); and a sister, Anna Yusko.

Mike is survived by a sister, Ethel Vento of Conneaut; and many nieces and nephews, all of whom he dearly loved. Mike was very thankful for his wonderful care givers, Carol Harris McGahey and his “adopted” grandchildren, Eric Anderson (Ashley), Jodi Anderson Wnoroski (Rocky), and great-grandchildren, Lilly and Joey Wnoroski.

Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 25th, at St. Frances Cabrini Church, 744 Mill St., Conneaut, with Fr. Philip Miller, of Corpus Christi Parish, officiating. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery, Conneaut, with the American Legion Honor Squadron conducting Military Honors.

At Mike’s request, there will be family Calling Hours on Sunday, Nov. 24th, from 2 to 4 p.m., at Raisian Family Funeral Home, 581 Harbor St., Conneaut.

Memorial contributions can be made in Michael’s memory to the Corpus Christi Parish. Envelopes will be available at the funeral and at the church.

George William Werley

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Nov. 22, 2013

George William Werley, passed away, Thursday, November 21, 2013. Beloved father of Leslie (Martin) Lyons and Karin (Missy Marty) Reed; Loving grandfather of Alison, Martin Trey III, Nicholas, and George Christian Lyons and Halle and Lauren Reed and Quinn and Kaitlyn Lemarr; Dear Brother of Joan Werley; Special friend of Sandra Kehrein; Dear cousin and friend to many.

Services: Memorial service at the SCHRADER Funeral Home and Crematory, 14960 Manchester Road at Holloway, Ballwin, Sunday 6 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Luke's Palliative Care, 232 S. Woods Mill Rd., Suite 330 East, Chesterfield, MO 63017 or de Greeff Hospice House, St. Anthony's Charitable Foundation, 10010 Kennerly Rd., 1st Floor, St. Louis, MO 63128.

Memorial Visitation Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Michael Weiner, head of MLB players’ union, dies at 51

By Associated Press
November 21, 2013 | 7:51pm
Modal Trigger

Michael Weiner, the plain-speaking, ever-positive labor lawyer who took over as head of the powerful baseball players’ union four years ago and smoothed its perennially contentious relationship with management, died Thursday, 15 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was 51.

The Major League Baseball Players Association said Weiner died at his home in Mansfield Township, N.J.

“Michael Weiner worked even thru his sickness. He didn’t look at it as an excuse to quit,” tweeted Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, the NL MVP. “He never gave up on us even when at his worst.”

As Weiner’s health deteriorated this summer, a succession plan was put in place. Former big league All-Star Tony Clark took over Thursday as acting executive director and is to be approved as Weiner’s successor when the union’s board meets from Dec. 2-5 at La Jolla, Calif.

“Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today,” Clark said in a statement. “Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend.”

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called Weiner “a gentleman, a family man, and an extraordinarily talented professional who earned the trust of his membership and his peers.”

“Our strong professional relationship was built on a foundation of respect and a shared commitment to finding fair solutions for our industry. I appreciated Michael’s tireless, thoughtful leadership of the players and his pivotal role in the prosperous state of baseball today,” Selig said in a statement. “Michael was a courageous human being, and the final year of his remarkable life inspired so many people in our profession.”

Despite the often bitter relationship between the union and management, Weiner was the rare labor official who could draw genuine praise from the other side.

“He was truly a great individual, a brilliant lawyer and a thoroughly decent person,” Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten said in a statement. “Michael was always viewed as the path to a reasonable resolution.”

At Weiner’s last public speaking engagement, a 25-minute meeting with baseball writers on the day of the All-Star game in July, he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to move his right side. Yet, he wanted to respond to questions about his illness and issues in the game, and did so with the grace and humor he was known for throughout his life.

“I don’t know if I look at things differently. Maybe they just became more important to me and more conscious to me going forward,” he said. “As corny as this sounds, I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”

Weiner first experienced weakness and tingling on his right side in July 2012 and was diagnosed with a glioma the following month. By June 2013, he had experienced a rapid increase in symptoms. As he sat in a wheelchair in foul territory at Citi Field the following month before the All-Star game, players lined up to speak with him.
Weiner’s voice had gotten raspy by early August, when he responded on behalf of the union to drug suspensions handed down to Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without his expertise,” San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said in a text to The Associated Press. “We will all feel this loss of such a great man.”

Known for wearing blue jeans and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers to work, Weiner’s easygoing manner with players was a change from former head Donald Fehr’s more lawyerly approach. His style connected both with players and the students he taught during Sunday school at his synagogue.
“Lost a great friend today,” Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler tweeted. “One of the best leaders & men I knew. Prayers for his family.”

Weiner was hired by the union as a staff attorney in 1988 and wound up succeeding Fehr in December 2009. Weiner became just the fourth head of the organization since 1966.

“Here you had an individual who came to me as a kid for his first private sector job,” Fehr said in a telephone interview with the AP. “He impressed me at the time and ever after with his intelligence, his dedication, his innate sense of fairness, his focus on finding what the right thing was to do and then doing it. This was an extraordinary individual all the way around.”

A longtime New Jersey resident and a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, Weiner clerked for U.S. District Judge H. Lee Sarokin in Newark before joining the players’ association. Once at the union, he became a key figure in the lengthy process to parse the $280 million collusion settlement among individual players.

Weiner also was a junior lawyer during the 7½-month players’ strike in 1994-95 strike and the negotiations that finally led to a new labor agreement in March 1997.

“I think that helped some people on the owners’ side to finally accept that the union was a fixture and the union was an entity they were going to have to deal with,” he said. “There was never a chance for anything to settle in until we got through collusion, and really until then we got through the bargaining in ‘94 and ‘95.”

Following eight work stoppages in a 23-year span, baseball has since negotiated three straight labor deals without interruption.
Weiner headed talks for the last deal, in November 2011, which instituted a series of significant changes that included restraints on signing bonuses for amateur players and increased the number of free agents able to switch teams without requiring the loss of draft picks as compensation.

“It took a while for the owners to appreciate that the union is not only here to stay, but that the union and its members can contribute positively to a discussion about the game — about its economics, about the nature of the competition, about how it’s marketed in every way,” he said.

In addition to the labor contract, he headed the legal team that in 2012 convinced an arbitrator to overturn a 50-game suspension imposed on Braun, the Milwaukee outfielder who was the previous year’s NL MVP. The union argued his urine sample had not been handled properly.

Last summer Braun agreed to accept a 65-game suspension for his activities relating to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic and his public statements.

Following a line of leaders that began with Marvin Miller and went on to include the short reign of Kenneth Moffett and the long tenure of Fehr, Weiner was exceedingly conscious of the union’s history and traditions of player involvement. He appeared with Fehr and the then 95-year-old Miller at a 2012 discussion at New York University’s School of Law marking the 40th anniversary of the first baseball strike and the rise of the union.

His hair nearly gone from his treatment, Weiner returned to NYU in January for a memorial celebrating the life of Miller, who died two months earlier. He humbly referred to “our little sport of baseball.”

“He was not just too young to die. He was too good and decent, too kind and brilliant,” said Gene Orza, the union’s former chief operating officer. “I never knew anyone finer.”
Said NFL players’ union executive director DeMaurice Smith: “The family of Michael Weiner and the community of athletes worldwide have lost a leader. I will miss my friend.”

Weiner is survived by his wife, Diane Margolin, and daughters Margie, Grace and Sally. Funeral arrangements were pending.


A Connecticut Yankee: Remembering Greenwich High School Hall of Famer and former Bronx Bomber John "Zeke" Bella

By Paul Schott
GreenwichTime.com
Monday, November 18, 2013, 10:49 pm

John "Zeke" Bella, a Greenwich native who played for the New York Yankees in the late 1950s and later became a long-serving youth sports official in town, died Sunday from complications related to a stroke and fall he suffered during the past week. He was 83.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever produced by the town, Bella was also one of its most beloved. He earned one of his most prestigious accolades Oct. 20 when he was inducted with Steve Young and Sue Merz into the inaugural class of the Greenwich High School Sports Hall of Fame.

"Zeke was a great man; a molder of boys into men," said Young, a three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. "I'm grateful for his inspiring me to be better. He was an important part of the rich athletic tradition in Greenwich. His hearty `strike three' will be missed."

Merz, a member of the U.S. women's ice hockey team that won Olympic gold in 1998, said she valued the opportunity to meet Bella at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich.

"I was shocked and saddened to hear of Zeke's passing," she said. "At the same time, I feel super fortunate to have met him at the induction ceremony. He was such a lovely man, and he was so honored to be there. His presence made me even more excited to be inducted."

Chris Hunt, co-coordinator of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, also paid tribute to Bella.

"We were devastated to learn of Zeke Bella's passing," he said. "He was a legendary official, superlative athlete at Greenwich High School in both football and baseball and did what few are able to do -- make it all of the way to the major leagues, which he did with the Yanks and A's."

Bella was born on Aug. 22, 1930. Raised in Greenwich, he emerged early as a standout athlete. He played football, basketball and baseball at Greenwich High School.

He took his nickname from first baseman Zeke Bonura, one of his favorite players on the 1939 New York baseball Giants.

Bella graduated from high school at age 16 in 1947. He then attended a military academy for a year before moving on to semi-pro stints on teams in Hertford, N.C., and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He signed with the Yankees in 1951 and played in the team's farm system for several years.

After serving in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 during the Korean War, Bella returned to baseball in 1955. The outfielder was called up to the Yankees at the end of the 1957 season. The Bronx Bombers won the American League that season, but lost the World Series in seven games to the Milwaukee Braves.

Bella was traded to the Kansas City A's in 1959. He retired from baseball at the end of the 1959 season, following two operations on his left eye.

Returning to Greenwich in 1960, he embarked on a long career with the U.S. Postal Service.

In his post-playing days, Bella developed an important community presence as a youth sports official and mentor to many young players. His record included umpiring junior and senior Babe Ruth and high school baseball games.

"He was one of our own and instantly a hero to us," said state Rep. Fred Camillo, R-151, who played in Babe Ruth games officiated by Bella. "I had his baseball card when I was a kid. He was this great figure, a legend, who was actually doing my games."

Bella's officiating inspired Camillo. In addition to his legislative career, Camillo is an umpire, whose experience includes junior and senior Babe Ruth games, Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference games and private school contests.

"He was a good example of how to conduct yourself on the field," he added. "The lessons we learned on the field from guys like Zeke stayed with us our whole lives."

Dan Gasparino, a 1978 Greenwich High graduate who played baseball for the University of Vermont and was later signed by the Yankees organization, also paid tribute to Bella.

"I had the honor to catch a lot of games with Zeke umping behind me," he said. "He always took charge and gave me advice and pointers during the course of the games we shared. It's the end of an era for Greenwich sports."

Bella's athletic talent was evident long after he retired from baseball, Greenwich Police Lt. Tom Keegan recalled in a May interview. Feeling emboldened during halftime of a men's league basketball game that he was scorekeeping, a 16-year-old Keegan challenged Bella to a one-on-one contest.

He was not much of a match for the former Major Leaguer. Bella hit 11 straight shots to win the game. By his own admission, Keegan did not manage even one attempt at the basket.

"When we were growing up, he was one of those guys who you only had to say his first name, and everyone knew who you were talking about," Keegan said. "My generation was extremely close to him. We knew and respected his legacy."

The current generation of Greenwich youth athletes also looked up to Bella.

"Those that have come before us like Zeke helped pave the way for each succeeding generation," said J.T. Hintzen, a Greenwich High baseball team tri-captain, during his introduction of Bella at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "Six decades of baseball players -- all influenced by Zeke in some fashion -- were that much better.

"We are the present day beneficiaries of the hard work and sacrifice he made and, because of that, the entire baseball program over the years has been one of the most successful in the state."


Sullivan leaves lasting mark on area


By Michael Zitz
The Free Lance–Star
November 7th, 2013, 9:37 pm

After his family and his country, the things Russell G. Sullivan loved the most were Stafford County and baseball.

The White Oak native, who passed away Saturday at age 90 at Mary Washington Hospital, played for the Detroit Tigers from 1951–1953, then went on to become one of the Fredericksburg area’s wealthiest men, was a larger-than-life figure who remained down to earth.

He hated to talk about himself, but told a reporter that one of his proudest moments came during batting practice before a game between the Tigers and the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox’s Ted Williams, considered by some the greatest hitter who ever lived, watched the young Sullivan hit one ball after another into the seats and said, “Boy, you hit ’em as hard as I do.”

He also recalled hitting a home run off the lights atop the right field roof at Briggs Stadium, a blast similar to the one Reggie Jackson famously hit in the 1974 All-Star Game after Briggs had become Tigers Stadium.

A career highlight came when Sullivan hit a mammoth home run into the third deck of Briggs Stadium’s right field pavilion on Sept. 25, 1952, to help Detroit pitcher Hal Newhouser win the 200th game of his career. He said that was the hardest ball he hit in the majors.

Harrison Sullivan and Lorenzo Sullivan, his father and grandfather, were homebuilders in the Fredericksburg area. When he was 8 years old, young Sullivan began helping them. By 1954, during baseball’s offseason, he had begun his own contracting business, doing much of the labor himself, including electrical work, plumbing and bricklaying. When his baseball career ended, he threw himself into the business with the same gusto with which he played ball.

Years before the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington as the Nationals, Stafford County was making a pitch to become the site of a Major League Baseball stadium. The county had a 250-acre tract adjacent to Interstate 95 that developer Bradford Kline had offered to donate and Sullivan had put up the $150,000 fee required for a site to be considered. He also offered to throw in $5 million of his own money toward construction costs if the Stafford site was selected.

Sullivan had put the money up anonymously, and asked a newspaper reporter not to make his generosity public.

Asked why he was willing to do it, Sullivan said hosting a major league ballpark “would be a gold mine for the county.” He seemed to care more about the people of Stafford reaping the benefits than any personal gain.

By 1988, he estimated that he had built more than 5,000 houses in Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Fauquier, Prince William, Orange and Westmoreland counties.

At that time he was listed as the No. 7 taxpayer in Stafford, behind only Virginia Power, Southland Corp., C&P Telephone Co., Continental Telephone Co., RF&P Railroad and Aquia Harbour Inc.

“It certainly is a dubious honor,” he said with a laugh.

He built the controversial Executive Plaza building on Caroline Street that is the tallest in downtown Fredericksburg and dubbed by some “The Big Ugly” because it doesn’t fit in with the architecture there.

He also helped run a motocross track in White Oak and farmed 850 acres of corn, wheat and beans.

Walter Jervis Sheffield, who was one of his attorneys, recalled Sullivan’s kindness. Sheffield said Sullivan gave “sweetheart deals” to many who had rented homes he had built for years so that they could afford to become homeowners.

He was an appointed a member of Stafford’s Board of Building Appeals for many years. He lost a run for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors to longtime county official Alvin Y. Bandy in 1995.

Sullivan joined the Navy upon his graduation from Falmouth High School in 1943, and was assigned to the USS Hancock, an aircraft carrier, which dodged kamikaze attacks when sent to support the invasion of Okinawa during World War II. He sometimes served as a tail gunner on a dive bomber, “I was so young that I didn’t know what claustrophobia was,” he said in a typically self-deprecating manner.

After being discharged from the military, he played professional baseball for 10 years. Sullivan, who was nicknamed Rabbit, also played for the semipro White Oak Oaks for years.

There is a mural of him as a ballplayer in the Russell Sullivan Gymnasium at the Massad Family YMCA in Falmouth.


Duke legend Ace Parker dead at 101

Steve Wiseman
Heraldsun.com
November 6, 2013 05:16 PM

Durham - Clarence “Ace” Parker, one of the most accomplished athletes in Duke history, died Wednesday morning at age 101 in Portsmouth, Va.

Parker played football, baseball and basketball at Duke in the 1930s before playing in the NFL and with Philadelphia A’s in Major League Baseball. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and was the oldest living former pro football player.

“Our thoughts go out to Ace’s family and friends,” Steve Perry, the Hall of Fame’s president/executive director, said in a statement on Wednesday. “On behalf of all of the Hall of Famers, the Board, and staff, we reflect on a full life lived and will forever remember the football legacy created by Ace Parker.”

Born May 17, 1912, Parker played for famed coach Wallace Wade at Duke and earned three letters from 1934-36. He was a two-time All-American selection, being named second team as a junior and first team as a senior.

Duke was 24-5 in football during Parker’s three seasons of play, mostly at quarterback. He also returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown against North Carolina in 1936.

Parker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (1963) and the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975.

In baseball, Parker hit a home run in his first at-bat in the Major Leagues while playing with the A’s on April 30. 1937. He played two seasons with Philadelphia, 94 games total, before deciding to play professional football.

In the NFL, Parker was named NFL most valuable player in 1940. His statistics that season included throwing 10 touchdown passes, rushing for 306 yards and two touchdowns and catching two touchdown passes. He also kicked 19 PATS, averaged 38 yards per punt, and his six interceptions on defense tied him for the league lead.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Parker played one season with the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference.

By 1947, Parker returned to Durham as an assistant football coach. He would stay on Duke’s football staff until 1965.

He has ties to the Durham Bulls, serving as the team’s player-manager from 1949-52.

He was Duke’s head baseball coach from 1953-66, compiling at 166-162-4 record that included a Southern Conference championship in 1953 and ACC titles in 1956 and 1957.

Parker guided Duke to the College World Series in 1953 and 1961. The Blue Devils haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament since that 1961 season.


Johnny Kucks, Who Pitched Yanks to Title, Dies at 81


By Bruce Weber
The New York Times
November 1, 2013

Johnny Kucks, a sinkerballing right-hander who was just 24 when he shut out the Brooklyn Dodgers to clinch the 1956 World Series for the Yankees in the seventh game, died on Thursday in Saddle River, N.J. He was 81.

The cause was cancer, his daughter Laura-Jean Arvelo said.

Tall and lanky with a sidearm-to-three-quarters delivery that gave his pitches a downward drive, Kucks threw, in baseball parlance, a heavy ball. At his most effective, he forced hitters to hit the top of the ball, resulting in a lot of groundouts. When he was on his game, his infielders were busy, and his outfielders were not.

Kucks’s big-league tenure lasted six seasons and was mostly undistinguished; he won 54 games and lost 56, with an earned run average of 4.10. But few players of his middling stature have had such a pinnacle experience.

In 1956, Kucks was in just his second season with the Yankees and was not expected to be part of the starting rotation; he went 8-7 the previous year as a spot starter and reliever.

But when other pitchers faltered, he became the Yankees’ second-most reliable starter, behind Whitey Ford. He won 14 games before the end of July, making the American League All-Star team, and finished the season 18-9, with a shutout of the Chicago White Sox on 73 pitches on Aug. 24.

Still, he was something of a surprise choice to start the seventh game of a World Series. Kucks had faltered in September, and when he had been called on to pitch in relief against the Dodgers in the first two games, both of which the Yankees lost, he had not fared well. Moreover, Ford was available, having won Game 3 four days earlier.

But Kucks pitched brilliantly, giving up just three singles as the Yankees clubbed four home runs and won easily, 9-0. Sixteen of the 27 Dodgers outs were recorded on ground balls. Just two fly balls made it to the outfield.

Kucks struck out Jackie Robinson to end the game — Kucks’s only strikeout that day — and although no one imagined it at the time, it was Robinson’s final major league at-bat. Traded to the New York Giants afterward, Robinson decided to retire.

The game was also the last time Brooklyn would play in baseball’s postseason. After the 1957 season, the team moved to Los Angeles.

John Charles Kucks Jr. was born in Hoboken, N.J., on July 27, 1932. His father was a butcher. He graduated from Dickinson High School in Jersey City and played one year of minor league ball in the Yankees’ organization before serving in the Army.

He married the former Barbara Daum in the mid-1950s; she died seven years ago. In addition to Arvelo, his daughter, his survivors include another daughter, Rebecca Gattoni, and four grandchildren. He had lived for many years in Hillsdale, N.J.

In May 1957, Kucks was part of a notorious episode in Yankees history when he joined a coterie of teammates — including Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Hank Bauer — who were celebrating Martin’s 29th birthday at the Copacabana nightclub in Manhattan.

After a scuffle broke out at the club between the players and members of a bowling team, Bauer was accused of hitting one of the bowlers. He was eventually cleared of all charges, but the players were fined, and the publicity embarrassed the Yankees, who traded Martin to Kansas City shortly thereafter. In 1959, the Yankees sent Kucks to Kansas City in a trade for Ralph Terry, who three years later became the only other Yankee to pitch a shutout in the seventh game of a World Series.

In the history of baseball, that feat has been performed only nine times, yet Kucks’s gem is rarely remembered, perhaps because he was overshadowed. He had the misfortune of pitching two days after his teammate Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history. Both men received bonus gifts.

“Larsen got a car,” Kucks told The Associated Press in 2000. “I got a fishing rod.”


Edward L. Erautt

September 26, 1924 - October 27, 2013

Conrad Lemon Grove Mortuary
October 30, 2013

Edward Lorenz Sebastian Erautt was born in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 1924 and passed away on October 27, 2013 at his home in La Mesa, California. Ed and his loving wife Ruth of Springfield MO, had 5 children: Ed, Shelly, Tommer, James, Suzie.

A gifted athlete, Ed broke into the big leagues when he was only 22 years old on April 16, 1947 with the Cincinnati Reds. He later played for the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. In 1946 he led the Pacific Coast League in Strikeouts with 234. He started playing baseball at an early age and Ed also played semi pro Hockey like his father and his brother. Ed served 3 years in the Army Infantry and saw action in the Pacific. Following his baseball career, Ed served at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Lemon Grove where he would eventually retire. Ed was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

Ed left his mark in life and has impacted so many lives that he will truly never be gone; he was a family man that will be missed and thought about often. His unique personality will continue to bring smiles to those that knew him.

Ed is survived by his son Ed Erautt and wife Mickey; his daughter Shelly and husband Mike; 15 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by 2 sons, James and Tommer, as well as his daughter Suzie, and wife Ruth.

Graveside Service will be on Friday, November 8, 2013 - 12:30 p.m. at El Cajon Cemetery, 2080 Dehesa Road, El Cajon, CA 92019.

Blessed are those who have died in the Lord; let them rest from their labors for their good deeds go with them.

Eternal rest grant unto Edward, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
II Timothy 4:7-8

Rudy Minarcin / Major league pitcher with Reds, Red Sox

March 25, 1930 - Oct. 15, 2013
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 20, 2013 12:00 AM

Rudy Minarcin, a major league pitcher in the 1950s who threw a one-hitter against the Pirates at Forbes Field, died Tuesday in Cabot. He was 83.

Mr. Minarcin's daughter, Michelle Solomon, said he died after having a hemorrhagic stroke.

"He was one of the most humble, generous people I have ever met," Mrs. Solomon said.

Mr. Minarcin, who was born in North Vandergrift and graduated from Vandergrift High School, pitched in 70 games during a three-year MLB career, with the Cincinnati Reds in 1955 and with the Boston Red Sox from 1956-57. On June 4, 1955, in his fourth major league start, Mr. Minarcin allowed one hit in nine scoreless innings against the Pirates. The 25-year-old rookie walked two and struck out three.

Once, while pitching for the Red Sox shortly after marrying his wife, Sonja, Mr. Minarcin tried to hail a cab outside Yankee Stadium, Mrs. Solomon said. Mr. Minarcin bore a resemblance to New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle, and fans chased him into the cab asking for autographs.

"People were looking at the signed autographs and throwing them back in at him saying, 'No Mickey, sign your name,' " Mrs. Solomon said.

So Mr. Minarcin started signing "Mickey Mantle."

Mr. Minarcin signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1948 before the Reds selected him in the 1949 Rule 5 draft. He left professional baseball between 1951 and '54 to serve in the Army during the Korean War.

In 1956, Mr. Minarcin played for the Havana Sugar Kings, the Reds' Class AAA affiliate at the time in Havana, Cuba, before diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States broke down and the team relocated.

After leaving baseball in 1959, Mr. Minarcin took over Martin's Market in North Vandergrift, where he worked until 1995.

Mr. Minarcin played baseball and football at Vandergrift and decided on baseball despite receiving numerous football scholarship offers. In 1948, his senior year, he led Vandergrift to a WPIAL baseball title.

Joe Minarcin, Rudy's son, described Mr. Minarcin as a man who enjoyed spending time with his family.

"He found enjoyment just sitting around with his sisters and his nieces and nephews," Joe Minarcin said. "They would just get together at my grandmother's house."

Mr. Minarcin also enjoyed visiting the casino and the dog track, Joe Minarcin and Mrs. Solomon said, and liked to keep things loose with his family.

"He just liked to be the jovial guy, somebody that liked to have a lot of fun," Joe Minarcin said. "He was a big kidder, he liked to joke around a lot. He would do and say funny things just to get everybody to laugh."

In addition to Mrs. Solomon and Joe Minarcin, Mr. Minarcin is survived by his daughters Laura and Beth; his sister Julia; his brother Richard; and eight granddaughters. A Mass will be celebrated today at 1:30 p.m. in the Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in East Vandergrift.

Veteran MLB umpire Bell, 48, dies of heart attack
NL crew member's resume includes one World Series, three All-Star Games

By Alyson Footer / MLB.com | 10/15/2013 12:34 A.M. ET

LOS ANGELES -- There was only one umpiring crew working Monday night when word of Wally Bell's death circulated, which made the ensuing hours very difficult, especially for six members of a very tight umpiring fraternity.

Bell, a veteran umpire with 21 years of Major League experience, reportedly suffered a massive heart attack on Monday in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. He was 48.

Crew chief Gerry Davis was informed of the news about an hour before first pitch of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Cardinals in Los Angeles.

"It was obviously very difficult, and we had to regroup rather quickly and put our concentration where it needed to be," Davis said. "We kept telling each other that that's the way Wally would have wanted it, and we know that that's really true."

Bell joined the NL staff in 1993 and umpired three All-Star Games (1997, 2000, 2013), seven Division Series (1998-99, '03-04, '06, '12-13), four League Championship Series (2000, '01, '05, '10) and the 2006 World Series, when he was behind the plate for Game 3 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Bell was the first-base umpire in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York and most recently was a member of the crew that worked this year's NL Division Series between the Pirates and Cardinals.

"All of us at Major League Baseball are in mourning tonight regarding the sudden passing of Wally Bell," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I always enjoyed seeing Wally, who was a terrific umpire and such an impressive young man. On behalf of our 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Wally's family, fellow Umpires and his many friends throughout the game."

According to the Associated Press, Bell had quintuple bypass surgery on Feb. 18, 1999. But he returned to work 11 weeks later in San Diego for a game between the Padres and Atlanta Braves.

Bell, a member of Tim McClelland's crew during the 2013 regular season, is the first active MLB umpire to die since John McSherry suffered a heart attack on the field in Cincinnati on Opening Day in 1996.

Major League umpire Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association, said in a statement: "Wally was a great umpire, a great partner and a great friend. The umpiring community is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed by many."

MLB executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre said he was driving to Dodger Stadium when he received a call from another veteran umpire, Jerry Layne, who informed him of Bell's passing.

"It just shocked me," Torre said. "I had just seen him in the Division Series with the Cardinals, and I just give these guys a lot of credit because there was a ton of emotion in that umpire's room. They really hitched up their belts and went out there and did a remarkable job."

Davis' crew that umpired Game 3 of the NLCS included Mike Everitt, Bruce Dreckman, Ted Barrett, Greg Gibson and Mark Carlson.

"Wally was a true umpire's umpire, and anyone who ever worked with him loved him, and I think that's not only true of the umpire brotherhood," Davis said. "But I think if you'll check with the players and teams they felt the same way because Wally always gave 110 percent on the field. We're a very-tight knit group, and it's going to be a big loss for us."

"It hits you right between the eyes," Torre said. "I think in this position I'm in now, it's certainly a different perspective of the umpires, and I couldn't be more proud of the brotherhood that they have and the caring for each other."

According to a WFMJ.com report, Bell leaves two young children, two brothers and a sister. His bio on MLB.com lists his proudest moment as "returning to the field after having open heart surgery in 1999."

Perhaps parallels can be drawn between that part of his legacy and his teammates' resolve as they stepped on the field for game time Monday night.

"One of the things that we shared in the locker room afterwards is that I'm sure he's very proud right now," Davis said.

Daniel Osinski

Published in The Arizona Republic on Oct. 9, 2013

Daniel Osinski, 79, of Sun City, AZ passed away on September 13, 2013. Dan was born November 17, 1933, the first child of Veronica Osinski and Anthony J. Osinski in Chicago, Illinois.

Dan excelled in all sports and lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball all four years of high school. Dan was offered a football scholarship to the US Naval Academy but turned it down to play professional baseball.

Dan signed with the Cleveland Indian's Minor League team at age 17. Dan married Marguerite (Peggy) Frew, of Barrington, Illinois in July 1960. They had one child together, Daniel D. Dan and Peggy were married for 53 years. Dan and Peggy enjoyed many family gatherings and family vacations with their son Dan, wife Laurie and their grand children, which brought Dan great joy.

Dan had a special bond with his youngest grandson, Devin. Devin and Grandpa Dan spent countless hours together and were best buddies.

Dan was one of the very first "Relief Pitchers," in baseball, where he was known as "The Silencer," by his colleagues and sports writers. Dan played for several Minor League teams before making his Major League debut on April 11, 1962.

Dan played for the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, Los Angeles Angels from 1962-1964, Milwaukee Braves in 1965, and the Boston Red Sox from 1966-1967, where he was a member of the "1967 Red Sox Impossible Dream Team." During the 1967 World Series, Dan pitched in game 3 and game 7.

In 1968, Dan was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Dan's final year in Major League Baseball was played in Houston, Texas for the Houston Astros. At the end of the season, Dan was traded to the San Diego Padres, but decided to retire to spend more time with his family. Dan then opened his own restaurant named Squire's Inn, of Oak Forest, Illinois, as well as his own Steel Fabrication shop, named DanO.

In 1990 Dan moved to Sun City, Arizona, for his second retirement, to play golf and enjoy the sun. Dan participated annually in the "Arizona Major League Alumni" charity fundraiser event. Dan will always be remembered for his kind and generous heart and his willingness to give away his last penny.

He is survived by his loving wife Peggy, son Dan and daughter-in-law Laurie of Phoenix, AZ. Dan has 4 grandchildren, Todd with wife Marilee, Keith, Shannon and Devin, as well as 1 great-grandson, Wyatt. Dan is preceded in death by his parents, and brother Ed.

Memorial Service: October 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm, Talisman Hall, 10433 Talisman Rd, Sun City, AZ 85351,



Former Milwaukee Braves favorite Andy Pafko dies at 92

By Tom Haudricourt
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Oct. 8, 2013


Andy Pafko, the starting right fielder for the Milwaukee Braves until Hank Aaron arrived in the majors, died Tuesday at age 92 in a nursing home in Stevensville, Mich.

Pafko was a Wisconsin native, born in Boyceville, who began his big-league career in 1943 with the Chicago Cubs. The five-time all-star played for the Cubs in 1945, the last year they were in the World Series.

Pafko was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the middle of the 1951 season and stood with his back to the wall in left field at the Polo Grounds when the Giants' Bobby Thomson hit the "shot heard 'round the world" that clinched the National League pennant. He later moved to the Milwaukee Braves and was the starting right fielder for his home-state team until he lost the starting job to Aaron in 1955.

Pafko played for the Braves until he retired after the 1959 season. In a 17-year career, Pafko batted .285 with 213 home runs and 976 RBI in 1,852 games, playing in four World Series for three different teams.

After retiring, Pafko managed in the minor leaguers and eventually settled in the Chicago area. He was active in the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association until a few years ago, when he was placed in the nursing home in Stevensville.

Pafko was born on Feb. 25, 1921 in Boyceville, a rural community in northwest Wisconsin between Eau Claire and Minneapolis. His parents were born in the city of Vazec in what is now Slovakia and his father went to the United States prior to World War I to get work and prepare for his wife and two oldest sons to join him later. The family eventually settled in Boyceville.

Andy, the third child and first born in America, was raised on a 200-acre dairy farm. Pafko often credited milking cows with helping him develop the strong grip which made him a major league hitter.

Because Boyceville’s high school had no baseball team, Pafko’s first playing experience was with the Connersville team of the amateur Dunn County League in 1939. The next year he played for Eau Claire of the Northern League and in 1941 for the Green Bay Blue Sox of the Wisconsin State League.

In November 1941, Pafko's contract was purchased by Bill Veeck, then owner of the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers, for $1,000. He later was sold to the Cubs' farm club in Los Angeles and made his debut with the Cubs in '43.

In 1945, Pafko established himself as a major league hitter, batting .298 with 110 RBI for the NL champions. The Cubs lost in seven games in the World Series to Detroit.

Pafko was traded to the Dodgers in an eight-player deal on the June 15, 1951. In January 1953, the Dodgers traded Pafko to the Braves, who were moving from Boston to Milwaukee and wanted a Wisconsin native to help draw fans to County Stadium.

Pafko’s career ended when the Braves released him in October 1959.


Former baseball player succumbs to illness

by Charlotte Ferrell Smith
Charleston Daily Mail
Wednesday October 9, 2013

Robert "Bob" Chance, former professional baseball player and Charleston resident, has died after a long illness. He was 73.

Chance died Oct. 3 at Charleston Area Medical Center's Memorial Hospital following a long battle with prostate cancer, said his sister-in-law Nancy Jenkins, of Wilmington, Del.

He was married to her sister, Carrie "Cookie" Chance, of Charleston, who passed away April 26, 2005.

"I have known Bob since I was 17," Jenkins said. "If I was told to make a list and put the nicest person at the top, it would be Bob Chance. Most people have said 'I never met a person nicer.' He was just a great person."

His son, Tony Chance, of Sarasota, Fla., said his father was a quiet man and "a gentle giant."

He had a strong sense of family and loved the large gatherings where everyone would sit around tables to play cards and laugh.

His father was also a hard worker.