The Obit For Mel Duezabou

Ex-Oakland Oaks ballplayer Duezabou dies at 90

By Dave Newhouse
Oakland Tribune
04/17/2010

OAKLAND — Mel Duezabou, a hard-hitting Oakland Oaks outfielder during this city's minor league baseball era, died April 7 at his Oakland home from natural causes. He was 92.

Duezabou graduated from Fremont High in Oakland and UC Berkeley before joining the Oaks of the Triple-A classification Pacific Coast League during the 1940s.

He played nine minor league seasons, eight in Oakland, and batted .302 during his career. He hit .308 in 1948 when the Oaks' "Nine Old Men" won the PCL championship.

Lil Arnerich, of Alameda, an Oaks teammate, said Duezabou had major league potential, but an arm injury early in his career weakened his defense.

"Mel was a good hitter," said Arnerich, now 81, "but he couldn't throw."

Billy Raimondi, 97, was an Oakland catcher during Duezabou's entire time with the Oaks, who moved to Vancouver after the 1955 season.

"He was a nice guy, and he hit as good as anyone," said Raimondi, an Alameda resident. "But he wasn't a good fielder. You never felt good when he went after balls, although he never dropped a ball."

Duezabou also boxed at Cal. His ring skills were still evident in 1950 when 6-foot-4, 230-pound Sacramento pitcher Max Surkont challenged the 5-9, 140-pound Duezabou before a game at Oaks Park in Emeryville.

Duezabou took out his false teeth and dropped the larger Surkont with a one-two punch. Surkont then wrestled Duezabou to the ground before they were separated. Surkont
apologized after the game.

"Mel looked like a miniature Joe Louis," recalled Arnerich, who witnessed the fight. "I thought so much of Mel that I named my first son after him."

After his playing days ended, Duezabou became an auto salesman. He kept in excellent condition into his 80s through fitness exercises and golf.

Duezabou is survived by his wife, Jackie, daughter, Susie, son, Johnny, and two grandchildren. A memorial for family and friends is planned for Friday at the Sequoyah Country Club, 4550 Heafey Road, in Oakland.