The Obit For Don Blasingame

Former MLB player and Hanshin Tigers manager Blasingame dies at his U.S. home

Associated Press

Thursday, April 14, 2005

TOKYO - Former major leaguer Don Blasingame, who managed two of Japan's professional baseball teams, has died of heart failure in Arizona, a Japanese club official said Thursday. He was 73.

Blasingame, a native of Corinth, Miss., died Wednesday at his home in Fountain Hills, said Hanshin Tigers spokesman Toru Miyake, quoting Blasingame's son, Kent, who notified the club of the death by phone.

No funeral arrangements have been announced.

Blasingame, an infielder, played 12 years in the major leagues beginning in 1955 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He also was with the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics.

He joined Japan's now defunct Nankai Hawks in 1967, playing as a second baseman for three years until 1969, when he joined the team's coaching staff. He stayed there through 1977.

Blasingame then moved to the Hiroshima Carp for a one-year stint as manager in 1978.

In 1979 and 1980, Blasingame led the Hanshin Tigers, a popular club based in Nishinomiya in western Japan as manager. Blasingame then returned to the Carp from 1981 to 1982.

As manager for the two teams, he had a record of 180-208-28. Ties are played in Japanese baseball.

Blasingame's name is carried on at the Corinth SportsPlex through the youth baseball league, which has borne his name since the 1970s.

SportsPlex Director Havis Hurley said he can still remember playing in the Don Blasingame League as a youngster and being honored as the league's best pitcher. An awards ceremony was held and the player himself showed up to present the awards.

"It meant a lot to have a major leaguer present something like that to you," said Hurley.

Blasingame was born in Corinth in 1932 and grew up at the corner of Wenasoga Road and the street which today bears his name, Blasingame Street.

As a senior shortstop, he helped lead the Corinth Warriors to the 1949 state title, the first of the program's two championships on the diamond.