The Obit For Ray Hayworth

The New York Times, Saturday, September 28th, 2002 (Page A18)


Oldest surviving major leaguer dies

.c The Associated Press

09/26/02 14:25 EDT

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) - Ray Hayworth, who was the oldest surviving major league player, died Wednesday at age 98.

Hayworth, who worked in baseball for more than 50 years, spent 15 seasons in the majors as a catcher, almost all of it with the Detroit Tigers. His death was confirmed Thursday morning by an aide to his grandson, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz.

Hayworth came to the majors in 1926 and was a member of Detroit's World Series teams in 1934 and 1935. He set an American League record for most consecutive chances by a catcher without an error at 439 from Sept. 2, 1931 to Aug. 29, 1932 and his glove is in the Hall of Fame. The record was later broken by Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.

Hayworth also played the Brooklyn Dodgers and briefly with the New York Giants and St. Louis Browns. He had a career batting average of .265.

Fred Smith, the Detroit Tigers historian and secretary of the team's alumni organization, said Hayworth's age was difficult to verify because many players at the time he came up claimed they were older than they were. Baseball record books list his date of birth as Jan. 29, 1904.

``He was a good player, the kind you liked on the ball field. He was a good man,'' Smith said. ``Ray always had time to talk to the kids. He was a real good guy.''

After Hayworth retired in 1945, he worked for several teams, including the Chicago Cubs, the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and the Montreal Expos. He retired from the Expos in 1973.

A graveside service is scheduled for Friday in Greensboro.