Ex-major leaguer Stobbs enjoyed making others feel welcome
By CHAD BROCKHOFF CORRESPONDENT
Herald-Tribune, Sunday, July 13, 2008
Facing the indignity of suffering his 20th loss of the season, Stobbs battled the visiting Baltimore Orioles for 10 innings before dropping a 7-3 decision at Griffith Park. The fact that he cemented his spot in baseball lore that Sept. 27 day overshadowed Stobbs competitive spirit.
That same competitive spirit served the Sarasota resident well the last seven years as he battled cancer. Surrounded by friends and family, the 79-year-old Stobbs succumbed to the disease early Friday morning.
What I will always remember is that he didnt complain once during the last seven years, Stobbs son, Charley, said.
Born in Wheeling W.Va., on July 2, 1929, Stobbs attended one year of high school in Vero Beach before his family moved to Norfolk, Va. He starred in football, basketball and baseball at Norfolks Granby High School.
He was later recognized by the Granby High School Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. The Virginian-Pilot newspaper named Stobbs as one of the Tidewater-areas greatest athletes of the 20th century.
Stobbs received a $50,000 bonus when he signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox organization prior to the start of the 1947 season. He made his major-league debut on Sept. 15 of that year against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.
Stobbs was the youngest player in the majors during the 1947 season and the youngest player in the American League in 1948. The legendary Ted Williams once took the youngster along on a clothing shopping spree in New York City.
After compiling a record of 33-23 in five seasons with the Red Sox, he was dealt to the White Sox on Nov. 13, 1951. Following the 1952 season, the White Sox traded Stobbs to the Washington Senators.
The Senators were perennially one of baseballs worst teams. Fans joked, First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.
In his first season with the club, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Stobbs gave up a 565-foot home run to Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle. The blast, which was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, was the first of its kind described as a tape measure shot.
Stobbs was credited with throwing the longest wild pitch in history during the 1956 season. The pitch reportedly traveled into the 17th row in the grandstand.
Stobbs joined the St. Louis Cardinals after being released in July 1958 by the Senators. The Cardinals released Stobbs in the offseason and he rejoined the Senators, staying with the organization through its first season as the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
He always told me that he threw just as hard in 61 as he did in 47; it just didnt get there as fast, Charley Stobbs said.
Over a 15-year major league career, Stobbs compiled a record of 107-130 with an earned run average of 4.29. According to Charley Stobbs, Chuck Stobbs always had to be prodded into talking about his baseball career.
Stobbs relocated to Sarasota, where the Red Sox conducted spring training from 1946-58, when the Kansas City Royals opened their baseball academy at Twin Lakes Park in 1971. He volunteered at Bee Ridge Presbyterian Church over the past 35 years, working on various committees, organizing the church bazaar and driving elderly parishioners to services.
He had a great sense of humor and he always wanted to make people feel welcome, Charley Stobbs said. My dad was well aware that there was plenty of suffering in the world, and he just thought that he could brighten peoples day by saying something nice.
Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bee Ridge Presbyterian Church.