Monday, January 29, 2001, 14:14 ET
The Associated Press
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Curt Blefary, the 1965 American League Rookie of the Year, has died after a long illness at age 57.
Blefary, a member of the Baltimore team that won the 1966 World Series, died Sunday night of chronic pancreatitis and other related ailments at his home, according to his widow, Lana Blefary.
"It's good that his suffering is over now," she said.
Blefary played eight seasons in the major leagues with the Orioles (1965-68), Houston Astros (1969), New York Yankees (1971-72) and San Diego Padres (1972). He hit .237 with 112 home runs and 382 RBIs in 974 career games.
Blefary originally signed with the New York Yankees, who sold his contract to the Orioles while he was still in the minor leagues. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .260 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs. "The next year, Baltimore beat the Yankees for the pennant, and he got his ring," his wife said. "He loved it. He gloated about it for the rest of his life."
Given the nickname "Clank" because of his poor fielding, Blefary played first base, then was switched to catcher. On April 27, 1968, Blefary caught Tom Phoebus's no-hitter. Blaming his offensive decline on the constant defensive shuffling at Baltimore, he was traded to Houston in 1969 in a deal that sent Mike Cuellar to the Orioles. "He loved Baltimore, and he loved his fans," said his wife. "He was a lifelong student of the game."
After retiring in 1972, the Brooklyn-born Blefary's love of baseball kept him close to the game. He was a volunteer coach for Northeast High School in Fort Lauderdale. Blefary also worked in the circulation department of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Blefary is survived by his wife, daughters Tracey Servideo of Jupiter and Tammy Moffett of Rhode Island, son Vincent Blefary of Boca Raton, and by three grandchildren.
Details of a memorial service were being planned Monday.