The Obit For Cal Abrams

Courtesy Of The Associated Press
Ex-Dodger Cal Abrams dies at 73

02/26/97; 14:54

MIAMI (AP) - Cal Abrams, a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in their glory days of the early 1950s, was still hearing from fans nearly a half-century later as he lay dying in a South Florida hospital. "The fan mail was still coming in ... It still comes in on a daily basis,'' his widow, May Abrams, said early Wednesday, shortly after her husband died at North Ridge Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.

Abrams will be buried in his white Dodgers uniform bearing the number 18. Abrams, who would have been 73 on Sunday, suffered a heart attack last Thursday, Mrs. Abrams said.

   She said her husband, unlike many baseball players and other athletes today whose goal is a lucrative sneaker endorsement contract, "played for the glory of the game. "There was loyalty to the fans. It wasn't like today with the big-name lawyers, agents, unions, big money contracts, endorsements,''  she said. "The players may be bigger or maybe even stronger today, but their hearts are much smaller.''

  Abrams batted .269 with 32 home runs and 138 RBIs as a part-time player in the majors from 1949 to 1956 with Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox. He also played in 1956 with the original Miami Marlins.

   The moment that baseball fans may remember most about Abrams was when he was thrown out at home plate in the final National League game of 1950, against the Philadelphia Phillies.

   Abrams tried to score from second base on a hit by Duke Snider in the bottom of the ninth inning. Philadelphia's Richie Asburn threw out Abrams. Had he scored, the Dodgers would have won the game and forced a playoff with the Phillies for the pennant. Instead, Dick Sisler hit a three-run homer in the top of the 10th, winning the game and the pennant for the Phillies.

   But out of all Abrams' career, the most important moment was when he first put on a Dodger uniform, Mrs. Abrams said. ``He grew up in Brooklyn,'' she said. ``We both grew up loving the Dodgers. So it was a thrilling moment for both of us when he put on that Dodger uniform in 1949. We were overwhelmed.''

   Abrams was making just $90 a month in the minors when the couple got married in 1947, and the most he ever made was $22,000 a year with the Baltimore Orioles, Mrs. Abrams said.

   Last June, he was inducted into the B'nai B'rith Jewish American Sports Hall of Fame, in Washington, D.C.

   Abrams quit baseball while with the minor league Marlins. He owned several cocktail lounges on Long Island, then went to work for New York City's Off- Track Betting until retiring in 1984. He had lived in Tamarac, Fla., since 1991.

   The funeral be 11:45 a.m. Friday at the Star of David Cemetery in North Lauderdale.

   Also surviving are Jeff of Seal Beach, Calif., and David of Sunrise, Fla.; daughters Ellen Abrams and Caren Alan, both of New York; and five grandchildren.