major-leaguer Yvars, linked to legendary home run, dies at 84
Longtime Valhalla resident Sal Yvars, a former major-league baseball player, died yesterday at age 84 after a nearly two-year battle with a rare disorder. Yvars played a key role in perhaps the most famous home run in the sport's history.
Yvars starred at White Plains High School and, after serving three years in the Air Force, later joined the New York Giants for seven seasons, most of which he spent as a backup catcher. He batted .244 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 418 at-bats over 210 games from 1947-54, the last year and a half of which was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Yvars kept the story to himself for more than 40 years, but it weighed on his conscience. He began to tell the story, which was later confirmed in Joshua Prager's book "The Echoing Green," which offered a detailed retelling of Thomson's famous home run.
"A lot of the Giants denied it. It was later confirmed, and everybody came forward," said Yvars' son, David. "It's not a great thing for sports, but it's the truth. My dad was one of several that came forward to admit it."
Ironically, Yvars made the final out of the 1951 series. With the Giants trailing by a run with a man on second in Game 6, he hit a sinking line drive to right field that Hank Bauer of the Yankees snared with a diving catch.
After baseball, Yvars worked in finance as an investment broker for 50 years before retiring in 2005. But it was the book that allowed him to have closure for the earlier chapter of his life.
"I would say he did," David Yvars said. "He felt even better when the book came out, which proved that what he was saying all along was the truth. I guess the word is vindication. A vindication of what he had said all along."
In retirement, Yvars remained active in charity work, and enjoyed working in his yard and observing birds. A little less than two years ago he was diagnosed with amyloidosis of the heart, a rare disorder in which amyloid proteins attack the body's organs and cause disease. He finally succumbed yesterday after what his son described as a "courageous battle."
Yvars is survived by his wife of 61 years, Antoinette, whom he married in White Plains on Sept. 27, 1947, one day after singling in his major-league debut. He had four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The Yvars family will receive friends at the Beecher Funeral Home in Pleasantville tomorrow from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral mass is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Roman Catholic Church in Valhalla. Entombment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or Multiple Sclerosis Society.