The Birmingham News
He was born in Birmingham and was a three-sport athlete at West End High School, graduating in 1940. He was attending Auburn University on scholarship when he was signed by a scout for the New York Yankees.
After World War II broke out, he served in the Navy. He made his major league debut in 1946 with the Yankees.
For much of his career with New York, Mr. Niarhos had to compete for the starting job at catcher with Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra.
"That was a tough organization if you were a catcher," Mr. Niarhos was quoted as saying in the book "Baseball's Golden Greeks." "They had Bill Dickey. Then Yogi came up. From'49 on, it was just forget about being a catcher with the Yankees."
In 1949, he became the first Greek-American to play in a World Series. The next year, the Chicago White Sox purchased his contract from the Yankees, and he led the team in batting with a .324 average. He later played for the Boston Red Sox and finished his playing career with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Mr. Niarhos played in 315 games and had a lifetime batting average of .252 with one home run and 59 RBIs.
"Sometime during the latter half of his career," according to the Web site baseball1.com, "Gus was fooling around with his mitt and cut a hole or two down the middle of the palm area, thus making it possible to snap the glove shut like a trap, or a hinge. His design innovation eventually caught on, and catching itself changed."
As a manager in the Athletics' system, Mr. Niarhos was California League Manager of the Year in 1966 and coached such players as Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Tony La Russa and Jim "Catfish" Hunter.
He returned to Birmingham to manage the A's in 1968 and 1969, where he tutored catcher Gene Tenace. He retired from baseball in 1971 and later moved to Harrisonburg, Va.
Services are at 10 a.m. Monday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
in Harrisonburg followed by a private burial. He is survived by his wife,
Gennevieve Ihle Niarhos; two sons, James Niarhos of Harrisonburg and John
Niarhos of Royersford, Pa.; a daughter, Mary Ingram of Royersford; two
brothers, John Niarhos of Birmingham and Jim Niarhos of Loves Park, Ill.;
and four grandchildren.