The Obit For Gerry Staley

Brush Prairie all-star Staley dies at 87

Friday, January 04, 2008
BY GREG JAYNE, Columbian Sports editor

Gerry Staley, perhaps the most successful major leaguer to come out of Clark County, has died at the age of 87.

Staley, who was born in Brush Prairie and went on to four All-Star selections, died Wednesday at his Hazel Dell home.

"He was a good man, and he lived a good life," said family friend Bill Hersh. "He was pretty energetic up to the end."

A right-handed pitcher, Staley compiled a career record of 134-111 with a 3.70 ERA from 1947-61. He appeared in the 1959 World Series with the Chicago White Sox, after compiling an 8-5 record with 14 saves and a 2.24 ERA during the season.

Staley appeared in four of the World Series games, pitching 8 1 / 3 innings with a 2.16 ERA as the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

"Just being in the World Series was something," Staley told The Columbian in 2005. "Even some of your great players don't get a chance."

Prior to his major-league career, Staley served with an Army evacuation hospital unit in the South Pacific during World War II.

He reached the major leagues in 1947 with the St. Louis Cardinals, and was named to the National League All-Star team in 1952 and 1953. From 1951-53 with the Cardinals, he posted 19, 17, and 18 victories.

After stops with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees, Staley landed with the White Sox, where his career was rejuvenated.

During the pennant-winning season of 1959, he led the American League by pitching in 67 games. The following year, he went 13-8 with 10 saves and was named to the American League All-Star team, becoming one of the few pitchers to be an All-Star as both a starter and a reliever.

Along the way, Staley faced the likes of Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron.

"I played in an era when there were a heck of a lot of good ballplayers," he said in 2005. "You can't single out one over all the rest.

"If you kept the ball in the park, you were doing a good deed."

Despite his travels with the Army and the nomadic life of a baseball player, Staley was a lifelong resident of Clark County. Following his retirement from baseball, he spent 17 years as a supervisor for Clark County Parks and Recreation.

He spent his later years tending to his garden and fishing for steelhead. And along the way, he was inducted to the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame, the Clark County Hall of Fame, and the Washington State Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame.

Staley also found time to respond to fan mail that arrived from baseball fans throughout the country, autographing pictures or baseball cards.

"There are some players who won't sign unless they get paid for it," he said. "What the heck; I've got enough to live on. It's nice to be remembered."

Staley was preceded in death by Shirle, his wife of 55 years. He is survived by a son and daughter.

No memorial service has been planned. Remembrances may be sent to 2517 NE 100th St., Vancouver, 98686.