The Obit For Tom Cheney

Baseball Player Tom Cheney Dies

.c The Associated Press

ROME, Ga. (AP) - Tom Cheney, who set the major league record with 21 strikeouts in a 16-inning game, died Thursday. He was 67.

Cheney died at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, according to a hospital spokeswoman, who had no other details.

Cheney was pitching for Washington Senators on Sept. 12, 1962, when he went the whole way in a 2-1 victory over Baltimore, striking out 21.

Only 4,098 fans were in the stands at Memorial Stadium the night when Cheney broke the modern record of 18 strikeouts in a game.

His record received a scare in May when Arizona's Randy Johnson struck out 20 in nine innings against Cincinnati.

``I didn't really realize how many I had until they announced it on the loudspeaker after the game,'' Cheney said the week Johnson came within one of his mark. ``I was just trying to win the game.''

Cheney had 13 strikeouts through nine innings. Senators manager Mickey Vernon later wanted to make a change, ``but I told him I didn't want to come out,'' Cheney said. ``Back in those days, you finished what you started.''

When Arizona's game against the Reds on May 8 went to extra innings, Johnson was pulled and the Diamondbacks went on to win 4-3 in 11 innings.

Cheney wound up pitching eight straight hitless innings near the end. With his 228th and final pitch, he slipped a called third strike past pinch-hitter Dick Williams, who went on to become a major league manager.

Cheney, who was 7-9 with a 3.17 ERA that season, posed for photographers after the game, holding up a ball that had ``21'' written on it.

``But I never boasted about it,'' he said. ``I didn't really want any publicity. I just wanted to do my job.''

Cheney, who began his big league career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1957, pitched in the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Johnson is scheduled to be Arizona's starter Saturday night in Game 6 of the World Series.

Sold to the Senators in 1961, Cheney gave up Roger Maris' 54th home run in that record season. A few years later, Cheney's career was cut short when he tore muscles in his right forearm.

Cheney finished in 1966 with a career record of 19-29, including eight shutouts. Overall, he struck out 345 in 466 innings.

Funeral arrangements were pending.