The Obit For William Ketcham

William Ketcham, Suffolk Sports Hall of Famer, dies


October 27, 2008

William Ketcham, an accomplished athlete, native Northport resident and an inductee in the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, died on Saturday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 81.

Yesterday, his family remembered him as a determined, natural competitor who "lived and breathed" baseball.

Ketcham played for a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team for several seasons until injuries led him to retire in 1951.

Chip Ketcham said his father loved his time in North Carolina with the Asheville Tourists. A photo of the young Ketcham in his team uniform was among his father's prized possessions, Chip Ketcham said.

"He loved showing pictures of himself playing," his son said.

Ketcham was born at Huntington Hospital on June 20, 1927. He met his wife, Ruth Ketcham, in high school.

Ketcham served in the Navy during World War II, leaving high school at the age of 17 and falsifying his birth certificate so he could qualify for service.

"He was a young boy, single, and the war was on," Ruth Ketcham said. "And like everybody else, he had to go."

After returning from the Navy, Ketcham returned to school to finish his degree. His son said Ketcham earned 16 varsity letters in various sports during his school years before going on to pitch for the Asheville team.

"He was a competitor. A tough-nosed competitor," Chip Ketcham said. "He could throw a ball as hard and far as anybody ever knew."

Ketcham later played for the Long Island Invaders athletic club, his son said, as well as local softball teams. In 2000, Ketcham was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.

Baseball wasn't his only interest. Ketcham also enjoyed woodworking, and spent hours in his backyard shop making furniture for his home. He also served as a resource for anyone who needed historical information on Northport. His family has lived in the town for many generations, Chip Ketcham said.

"Anybody had a question about Northport, they knew who to call," he said.

In addition to his wife and son, Ketcham is survived by two daughters, Jan Bergeron of Keene, N.H., and Jody Wade of Northport and a sister, Jean Smith of Fort Salonga.

The wake will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the funeral service will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m., at Brueggemann Funeral Home in East Northport.

Ketcham will be buried at the Northport Rural Cemetery.