Recent Passings

Don Lock, dies at 81

Taylor Eldridge
The Wichita Eagle
October 9, 2017 5:30 PM

Don Lock, a two-sport standout athlete at the University of Wichita in the 1950s, died on Sunday. He was 81.

Lock, a 1954 Kingman High graduate, was best known for his baseball career, as he was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1958, made his major-league debut with the Washington Senators, and enjoyed an eight-year professional career. He also played basketball at WU under coach Ralph Miller and was a teammate to Cleo Littleton.

“Don was a great competitor and was a guy who didn’t know how to lose,” said Jim McNerney, a basketball teammate of Lock. “He was a person everybody respected and loved. Don was a giver, not a taker.”

McNerney was a teammate with Lock for one season at WU; McNerney was a senior, while Lock was a freshman who couldn’t play varsity that season. But Lock’s competitive spirit made such an impression on McNerney that the two became lifelong friends.

After Lock’s playing days, he moved back to Kingman County and remained in close touch with McNerney. The two had a standing lunch date every Thursday.

“We had lunch this past Thursday and he’s been fighting this sickness for many months now and we could tell Thursday he wasn’t going to be around a lot longer,” McNerney said. “But even then, he was still the same Don. People would still come up and want to talk to him.”

In his playing days, Lock was a 6-foot-2, 195-pound center fielder. He finished sixth in the American League with 27 home runs in 1963, then followed it up with 28 home runs the next season. He led the American League in outfield assists and putouts in 1963, as well. Lock played for the Senators, Phillies and Red Sox in his eight-year career.

After retiring in 1969, Lock became a manager at the minor-league level.

McNerney enjoyed watching Lock play in the major leagues and although Lock wasn’t a graceful basketball player, he saw many of the same qualities that translated over to his baseball success.

“When you play sports, you can always pick out the guys you want to go to war with and Don was one of those guys,” said McNerney. “He didn’t play for the fun of it. He played to win. He’s going to be missed and you can’t replace a guy like that.”

Lock was inducted into the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, the Wichita State Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame this month.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Agnes, and his wife, Delores. He is survived by his son Deron Lock of Derby and daughter Dina Davis of Ellsworth. Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church in Kingman.

Roy Lee Hawes

July 5, 1926 - October 9, 2017

The Wilson Funeral Home
October 10, 2017

Roy Lee Hawes, 91, of Ringgold, Georgia, went to be with his Lord and Savior peacefully, Monday, October 9, 2017 while surrounded by his family.

A native of Shiloh, Illinois, he has lived in the Ringgold area since 1951. He was a Veteran of the U.S. Navy where he served during W.W.II, a member of the Ringgold First Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon, was a former employee of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department where he served as a Bailiff for 14 years and was a 32nd Degree Mason with the Quitman Masonic Lodge.

Roy is the all time Chattanooga Lookouts Home Run Leader – 109, played 14 years of Professional ball with stints in the Major Leagues with the Washington Senators and the Detroit Tigers. He was inducted into the Chattanooga Baseball Hall of Fame, and was co-founder along with Jack Babb and Doc Jay of Ringgold Dixie Youth Baseball.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Eugenia Baxter Hawes; parents, Marion and Katherine Gause Hawes, and sister Bea Kassebaum. He is survived by two children, Lynn Hawes of Ringgold, GA., and Craig (Pamela) Hawes of Ringgold, GA.; granddaughter, Christi (Jeb) Black; great granddaughter, Jaida Black; nephew, Neal (Patricia) Kassebaum; several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held 11:00 A.M. Thursday, October 12, 2017 at the Ringgold First Baptist Church with Pastor Eric Kennedy officiating. Interment will follow at the Baxter Addition of Anderson Cemetery. The family will receive friends Wednesday from 3-8 P.M. at the funeral home. Arrangements are by Wilson Funeral Home Wallis-Stewart Chapel Ringgold, Georgia.

Jim Landis, center fielder for Go-Go White Sox, dies at 83

Chris Kuc
The Chicago Tribune
October 7, 2017 7:08 PM EST

Jim Landis, considered one of the best defensive center fielders of his time and a key member of the 1959 American League champion White Sox, died Saturday in Napa, Calif., at age 83.

Landis played eight seasons with the Sox from 1957-64 and during that time won five consecutive gold gloves and made the American League All-Star team in 1962. A big contributor to the Go-Go Sox team that went 94-60 and advanced to the World Series, Landis hit .272 with 26 doubles and 60 RBIs during the '59 regular season and finished seventh in the voting for the AL Most Valuable Player award. Against the Dodgers in the World Series, Landis hit .292 with six runs in six games.

In 1963, Landis led ALoutfielders with a .993 fielding percentage and finished his career with a .989 fielding mark. Signed by the Sox as an amateur free agent in 1952, Landis was one of the 27 players named to the organization's "Team of the Century" in 2000.

Landis was traded to the Kansas City Athletics on Jan. 20, 1965 as part of a three-team deal and later went on to also play for the Indians, Tigers, Astros and Red Sox before retiring in 1967.

The Sox said Landis died surrounded by family and friends in a room that featured bobbleheads and photos of teammates such as Nellie Fox, Billy Pierce and Moose Skowron.

"Landis remained proud of his career and time with the White Sox to the very end," the Sox said in a statement.

John E. Herrnstein
1938 - 2017

Published in the Chillicothe Gazette on Oct. 5, 2017

Chillicothe: John Ellett Herrnstein peacefully passed on at 12:03am, October 3, 2017, with his beloved wife at his bedside and surrounded by his family.

John was born on March 31, 1938, in Hampton Virginia to William and Mary (Ellett) Herrnstein. John married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Harness, 60 years ago, who survives.

John is also survived by 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. His children are: John (Patti) Herrnstein, Susan (Dan) McManus, Karen Rinehart, Seth (Karen) Herrnstein, and Kristin Cooper. His grandchildren are: Katie (Rob) Vizmeg, Kara (David Boylan) Herrnstein, Chad Herrnstein, Trent (Yasmine) Herrnstein, Sierra McManus, Nick McManus, Logan (Molly) Rinehart, Danika Rinehart, Jeremy (Brittanie) Herrnstein, Kelsey (Chris) Fuller, Megan Herrnstein, Justin Herrnstein, Jordan Herrnstein, Paul Cooper, Avery Scianamblo and Madison Scianamblo. He is also survived by his brother, William (Susanne) Herrnstein III and several nieces and nephews. John was pre-deceased by his parents and by his grandson, Dustin Rinehart.

After moving to Chillicothe at the age of nine, John went on to graduate from Chillicothe High School in 1955 where he was an all-state athlete in football, basketball, baseball, and track. John graduated from the University of Michigan in 1960 after a distinguished athletic career as captain of the football team and pitcher/outfielder on the baseball team. John was drafted by the Baltimore Colts of the NFL but chose a career in baseball where he played first base and outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies Organization for 7 ½ years, as well as time with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs.

Following his baseball career, John returned to Chillicothe where he worked in finance until his retirement in 2011 from Janney Montgomery Scott Investments. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Chillicothe/Horizon Telephone Company for many years.

John loved his city of Chillicothe and volunteered for the betterment of his community. He was twice President of the United Way-Ross County. He was on the Board of Directors for the Good Samaritan Food Network. He served as co-chairman of the Chillicothe City School District Building Levies for both the High School/Jr. High buildings and the Elementary Schools that are currently under construction. John was also chairman of the Original Levy Committee for the Chillicothe Parks and Recreation Department, which has enabled the Department to have a guaranteed income.

Much of his leisure time was spent with his family, playing and coaching various sports, especially baseball and tennis, and taking daily walks or cycling with his wife. Vacations typically centered around hiking, trekking or cycling.

John's family wants to thank his many wonderful health care providers for their excellent care, as well as his friends for their thoughts, prayers, calls and visits during the past months. Per John's wishes and consistent with his modest demeanor, there will be no calling hours. A small, private memorial will be held at a future date.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Ware Funeral Home.

Solly Hemus, last Cardinals player-manager, dies at 94

By Rick Hummel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 4, 2017

Former Cardinals player and manager Solly Hemus, the last big-league manager alive who had managed in the 1950s and the last Cardinals player-manager in 1959, died at age 94 on Monday in Houston. He had been in ill health.

Solomon Joseph Hemus, a 5-foot-9, hard-nosed infielder, had a lifetime batting mark of .273 in an 11-season career with the Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies from 1949-59.

Cardinals Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, who played second next to Hemus at shortstop for several seasons in the early 1950s, recalled Hemus as a “tough player, a winning-type player. If he needed to get hit by a pitch, he’d stick right in there. He’d try to get on base for the guys behind him.

“He wasn’t a great shortstop but he got the job done,” said Schoendienst, born two months ahead of Hemus in 1923. “Maybe it wasn’t the best, but he always was trying to help the club, I’ll say that.”

After he was traded to the Phillies in 1956, Hemus wrote a letter to Cardinals owner Gussie Busch saying how proud he had been to be a Cardinal. After the 1958 season, Busch re-acquired Hemus and named him player/manager.

Hemus filled the dual role only for 24 games in 1959,, mostly as a pinch hitter, before turning to managing full time. The Cardinals finished seventh in an eight-team league that year at 71-83. The next year, they finished third at 86-68 but he was fired and replaced by coach Johnny Keane after the club started 33-41 in 1961.

Later, Hemus was a coach with the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians before entering the oil business in Houston.

Former Cardinal Tim McCarver, who was a minor-league call-up as a young catcher, said, “The thing that really impressed me about Solly is that he would give cash to guys who were going well so that they could go out and enjoy themselves. I got wide-eyed that he would give somebody $50 ‘to have dinner on me.’ Unfortunately, I didn’t get that opportunity then.”

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson was shunted between the rotation and the bullpen by Hemus in his three seasons as manager, and both Gibson and center fielder Curt Flood have been quoted as saying that Hemus had told them they would “never make it,” in the majors. Both wrote in their respective autobiographies that Hemus’ statements and actions were racially motivated.

Gibson on Tuesday expressed disappointment upon hearing of Hemus’ death but declined further comment.

Charles Michael "Micky" Harrington

Published in the Hattiesburg American on Sept. 22, 2017

Services will be held at 11:30 A.M. Saturday at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home for Mr. Charles Michael "Micky" Harrington, 83, of Hattiesburg, MS who passed away, Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at Asbury Hospice House in Hattiesburg. Interment will be in Roseland Park Cemetery.

Mr. Harrington was an outstanding Mississippi athlete in baseball and basketball during the 1950's with offers to play professional baseball by the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies while still in high school. Averaging 25 points a game in basketball as a senior he was the very first Mississippi basketball player to play in the National All American All Star Game. Upon graduation in 1951 he was offered over thirty scholarships to play college basketball including Duke University and Kentucky. Instead, he chose to play at home for USM becoming a four-year starter in both sports.

As a leading rebounder in basketball he helped guide the team to four consecutive NAIA Tournaments. Graduating from USM in 1956, he was drafted by the New York Nicks basketball team and six major league baseball teams, instead the U. S. Army claimed Micky as first draft choice. Elected to the national "All Army Baseball Team" in 1956 when he left the military the next year several pro basketball teams wanted him including the Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers but Micky chose baseball signing to play AAA baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies and several other minor league teams around the country for the next several years. Most seasons he batted between .290 and .316. In 1961 he won the prestigious "Silver Glove Award for best fielding average- minor league baseball's equivalent to the renown Golden Glove Award in the major leagues. During his tenure in pro baseball Micky played with or for some of the game's greats including Mel Stotlmeyer, Ferguson Jenkins, Chuck Tanner, L.A. Dodger owner Gene Autry and baseball legend Satchel Paige.

In 1964, Micky returned to Hattiesburg and back to Southern Miss later assisting USM Baseball under coach Pete Taylor and as an assistant basketball coach under Jeep Clark and M.K. Turk. In 1982 he moved to the Intermural Department he opened and built the USM Equestrian Center from scratch including a riding arena, barn and 3,000 seat set of bleachers. Ever the athlete, into his 60's and 70's Micky took up cycling competing in Triathlons and the Senior Olympics. Fifteen times he attended the State of Mississippi Senior Olympics in cycling and three times he won positions to attend the national Senior Olympics.

Mickey was a past President of the State 4-H Program and is a member of the USM Sports Hall of Fame. After 28 years of service to Southern Miss, Harrington retired in 1996 leaving a legacy of athletic records and benevolent contributions most notably the creation of the Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo, which continues today in funding many scholarships and leadership academy stipends for students. He was also a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Mr. Harrington was preceded in death by his parents, William Patrick Harrington and Eleanor Francis Harrington and his brother, E.L. "Doc" Harrington.

He is survived by his wife, Neely Jane Carpenter Harrington; two daughters, Heather Harrington Knopp and Hope Harrington Venus; a brother, W.P. "Pat" Harrington, Jr and two grandchildren, Alexandra Knopp and Logan Venus.

Visitation will begin at 9:30 A.M. until service time at 11:30 A.M. Saturday at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home.

Garry Alton Hill
(1946 - 2017)

Published in Charlotte Observer on Sept. 21, 2017

Mr. Hill, 70, of Charlotte, passed away peacefully on September 20, 2017, at The Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster. The family will receive friends on Friday September 22, 2017 from 6:00 until 9:00 PM at McEwen at Sharon Memorial Park, 5716 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC. A memorial service to celebrate Mr. Hill's life will be held at 3:00 PM Saturday, September 23, 2017 at Newell Presbyterian Church, 1500 Rocky River Road, West, with the Reverend Fred Rose officiating.

Mr. Hill was born on November 3, 1946, in Rutherford County, NC, the son of Ed and Rachel Hill. He moved to Charlotte in 1955. He attended Garinger High School and played on the Post 9 American Legion Baseball teams that were runners-up for the 1964 National Championship and the 1965 winners of the American Legion World Series. Following his sophomore year at UNC-Chapel Hill he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves as their first round draft pick. When his professional baseball career ended, he became a salesman for Package Products/Sonoco-Engraph.

After retiring he purchased On Deck Baseball/Softball Skill Development Academy where he and his sons worked to develop and train young people in the game he loved. Through On Deck, Garry operated a nonprofit organization to help provide less-privileged youth with a chance to pursue the game that gave him so much.

Garry is survived by his wife of 48 years, Sandra Prophet Hill, three sons, Jason Hill (Janine), Kevin Hill (Kara), and Travis Hill (Susan); nine grandchildren, Matthew, Emily, Sydney, Michael, Louis, Brody, Connor, Rae and Eve Hill. He is also survived by his brother, D. Eddie Hill (Dianne) of Durham, NC.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Kunal Kadakia of Levine Cancer Institute and to the wonderful caring people at Southminister Hospice House.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care at or to BSDA at 10229 Rodney Street, Pineville, NC 28134.

Former Deering High star and Red Sox pitcher Ed Phillips dies at 73

Phillips, who also starred at Colby College, played for Boston in 1970.

By Tom Chard
September 21, 2017

Ed Phillips, a three-sport athlete at Deering High in the early 1960s who went on to pitch for the Boston Red Sox, has died at age 73.

Phillips was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, but grew up in Portland and attended Colby College before being drafted by the Red Sox in 1966. He pitched in 18 games in relief for Boston in 1970, his only season in the major leagues.

Phillips was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. Last year his No. 15 baseball jersey was retired by Colby.

In recent years, Phillips lived in Wells with his fiancee, Barbara Page. He died Wednesday on his birthday after a battle with cancer.

Phillips built the foundation for his pro career pitching in Maine. He had a 22-5 record in three seasons at Deering, followed by a 16-5 record at Colby under Coach John Winkin. Phillips signed with Boston in 1966 for $9,000, two days after graduating from college. Two years later he pitched a perfect game for Class A Winston-Salem.

Phillips, a 6-foot-1 right-hander with a three-quarter arm motion, didn’t overpower hitters, using a strong breaking ball and pinpoint control.

“Speed wasn’t his forte,” said Paul Pendleton, a Deering teammate. “Eddie had great control. He rarely walked a hitter. If he walked one or two in a game, that was it. He kept his composure and if a player made an error, Eddie would bear down that much more. It was always about the team.”

In 1961, Deering and Cheverus were unbeaten when they met in a midseason showdown at Deering. The game was a marquee pitching matchup between Phillips and left-hander Dick Joyce, who later pitched for the Kansas City Athletics. The Stags won and went on to finish an undefeated season.

Mort Soule, another Deering teammate, said he believes that Phillips-Joyce matchup was the first time two future major league pitchers faced each other in a Maine high school game.

“I don’t know how many people watched that game, but they were three and four deep around the field,” he said.

The next season, Phillips’ senior year, Deering went 15-1 to win the Telegram League championship at a time when Maine didn’t have playoffs to determine a state champion.

“Eddie pitched us to three state titles,” said Pendleton. “Little League, Pony League and (American) Legion.”

Rick Lund of Dover, New Hampshire, was a classmate of Phillips at Colby.

“We were the closest of friends for 55 years,” said Lund, who grew up in Gardiner and played freshman basketball with Phillips at Colby, coached by Winkin. “I never missed a baseball game that Ed pitched.”

Phillips led the nation in earned-run average and pitched a no-hitter against the University of Maine as a senior.

“Colby played a major baseball schedule,” said Lund. “Ed’s senior year, they won the Duke Invitational.”

Phillips made his major league debut in Yankee Stadium on April 9, 1970, relieving in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. The batter, John Ellis, took a called strike on the first pitch, then popped to first baseman George Scott.

Phillips soon was sent back to Louisville, Boston’s Triple-A club. Three weeks later he returned to the Red Sox for the rest of the season. His stat line: 232/3 innings, 23 strikeouts, 5.32 ERA and an 0-2 record. His salary in the majors was $12,000. Phillips’ teammates in Boston included Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski and shortstop Rico Petrocelli. Sparky Lyle was a fellow reliever and good friend.

Phillips pitched one more season as a minor leaguer before retiring at 26 in 1971.

In 2012, Phillips was invited with other former Red Sox players for the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. He was accompanied by his only child, Brooke. She asked her father if he would be nervous walking across the field in front of a sold-out crowd.

“I was nervous when I was the one walking out of the bullpen to the mound,” he told the Press Herald. “It will be a lot easier to go out there with a couple of hundred other players.

After baseball, Phillips was a water-treatment consultant, and later owned an air-filter recycling business. He lived in Kentucky and Illinois before returning to Maine in 2001, where he served as a pitching coach for the Kennebunk American Legion baseball team.

“I’ve been calling as many friends as I know about Ed’s passing,” said Lund. “It’s left a huge void.”

James Thomas "Bones" Donohue Jr.

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sept. 17, 2017

James Thomas Bones Donohue Jr. 79, born on October 31st, 1937 passed away on Saturday, September 9th, 2017.

Survivors include beloved wife of 52 years, Judith A. Donohue (nee Giesler), son James Thomas Donohue III (Tracy), daughter Ann Donohue Chapin (Michael), son Timothy M. Donohue (Shelly) of Gig Harbor, WA, son Patrick David Donohue (Stacy), sister Margaret Spaulding (Dean), brother Michael Donohue, sister-in-laws Peggy Schmelzle (Michael), Debbie Lawler (Kevin), Diane Giesler (Dave), Barbara Giesler (Jack), Judy Giesler (Jim), grandchildren Jake, Taryn, MacClayn, Andrew, Garrett, Sarah, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, great-greatnieces, great-great-nephews, cousins and friends. James was preceded in death by his father James Thomas Donohue Sr., mother Imogene Donohue, step-mother Lois Donohue and brother-in-law Wally Giesler.

Bones pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins. His love for baseball continued throughout his lifetime.

Services: Visitation will be held at Our Lady of Pillar on Saturday, Sept. 23rd at 10:00 a.m. with a 10:30 a.m. Mass to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to CBC or a charity of their choice.

Gene Michael, Whose Yankee Teams Won 4 World Series, Dies at 79

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
September 7, 2017

Gene Michael, a Yankee for nearly a half-century, rising from sure-handed shortstop to general manager and building teams that won four World Series championships, died on Thursday at his home in Oldsmar, Fla. He was 79.

The Yankees reported his death on their website, saying the cause was a heart attack.

For much of Michael’s time with the Yankees, George Steinbrenner ran a revolving door that sent players, coaches, managers and front-office personnel spinning in and out of Yankee Stadium. Michael was fired a couple of times, then hired back.

As a player he anchored the infield for seven seasons for the Yankees in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when baseball’s most storied franchise went into decline. Nicknamed Stick for his slender frame — 6 feet 2 inches tall and 180 pounds or so — he was a light hitter but quick, smooth and deft defensively.

After Michael’s playing career ended, in 1976, Steinbrenner, whose syndicate had taken over ownership from CBS three years earlier, earmarked him for a future in the Yankee organization, having viewed him as a smart and hard-nosed player.

Michael had two stints as the Yankee manager and another as general manager in the early 1980s, then managed the Chicago Cubs later in the decade.

He served as the Yankee general manager again from late in the 1990 season through 1995. In that second go-round, he assembled the core of the teams that won a World Series championship in 1996 and consecutive titles from 1998 to 2000. Joe Torre, who managed those teams, was hired in large part on Michael’s recommendation.

Michael also was a Yankee coach, oversaw scouting, and in his later years was a senior adviser in the front office.

As general manager, Michael looked for young players who showed promise, a departure from Steinbrenner’s penchant for spending heavily on free agents and at times trading away budding talent.

He gained unusual autonomy for a top Yankee official after Steinbrenner was ordered by Commissioner Fay Vincent to resign as the team’s general partner and relinquish control of on-field baseball decisions on July 30, 1990 — his penalties for paying a confessed gambler for damaging information about the Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield, with whom Steinbrenner had been feuding.

Through the draft, trades, free-agent signings and retention of the most promising Yankee minor leaguers, Michael created the path putting Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, David Cone and Joe Girardi in pinstripes for many or all of those four Yankee championship teams.

Michael’s first stint as a Yankee manager came in 1981, when he reluctantly stepped down as general manager at Steinbrenner’s behest after one season in that post.

He succeeded Dick Howser, whom Steinbrenner fired after the 1980 Yankees, winners of 103 games in the regular season, were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

Michael reflected on his playing days when he replaced Howser.

“I realized I couldn’t hit very well — I was never very strong in my upper body; today’s players work out more — and I started to learn the game,” he told The New York Times. “Toward the end, I guess I would say I came to love baseball, or at least to know it better. I started to think about managing.”

Eugene Richard Michael was born on June 2, 1938, in Kent, Ohio. He played baseball and was also an outstanding basketball player at Kent State University, then signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization in 1957.

His survivors include his wife, Joette, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.

Michael made his major league debut with the Pirates in 1966 before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers sold him to the Yankees after the 1967 season.

Michael’s best season came in 1969, when he batted .272.

His baseball savvy included mastery of the hidden ball trick, which, he said, resulted in his tagging out at least four or five unsuspecting runners leading off second who assumed the pitcher had the baseball.

Michael was also a battler.

“If there was ever a team fight, the players always told me that they wanted Stick on their side,” Steinbrenner once said.

In one memorable brawl, in August 1973, Michael took on Carlton Fisk, the Boston Red Sox catcher, who outweighed him by at least 20 pounds and had the added advantage of a chest protector. The fight was touched off when Michael, at the plate, missed a squeeze bunt as Thurman Munson was barreling home from third base. Munson crashed into Fisk and the benches emptied. Michael held his own in the skirmish, in which nobody was hurt.

Michael ended his playing days with the 1975 Detroit Tigers under Ralph Houk, his former manager with the Yankees. He signed with the Red Sox after that season, but they never put him in the lineup and released him in May 1976.

He retired as a player with a career batting average of .229 and only 15 home runs.

Michael was a special assistant to Steinbrenner and a coach after that and managed the Yankees’ Columbus Clippers to an International League pennant in 1979.

“I’m not looking for somebody to say yes to me,” Steinbrenner said when he named Michael to succeed Howser. “Gene is loyal — that’s his greatest asset — but he’ll tell me if he thinks I’m wrong.”

But Michael soon fell out of favor.

His Yankees were assured of a 1981 playoff berth for topping their division in the first half of what became a split season as a result of a players’ strike. But when they had only moderate success in the second half, Michael publicly voiced disgust over Steinbrenner’s complaining.

“It’s not just now or earlier in the season,” Michael told reporters in late August. “It started in spring training. Every ballgame you lose, you could’ve done something differently.
Yogi Berra, left, with Michael at the Yankees’ training camp in Tampa, Fla., in 2010.
Barton Silverman / The New York Times

“It’s not fair that he criticizes me and threatens to fire me all the time. I’d rather he do it than talk about it. I told him exactly that today — don’t wait.”

Steinbrenner took up the challenge, firing Michael and naming Bob Lemon to replace him on Sept. 6.

The Yankees lost to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. Steinbrenner fired Lemon in April 1982, then rehired Michael, who had been scouting, as his manager.

But Steinbrenner fired Michael for a second time, in August, and replaced him with Clyde King, one of his advisers.

Michael managed the Chicago Cubs from midseason 1986 through early September 1987, when he resigned, having gone 114-124.

Steinbrenner’s banishment ended in March 1993. Michael’s second term as the Yankee general manager ended after the 1995 season amid a contract dispute with Steinbrenner.

“I always had a great regard for his baseball knowledge, and secondly, how he handled the stress working for George that many years,” Torre said in a statement on the Yankees’ website. “He kept the thing afloat when George was away; he did more than that because he built a heck of an organization.”

Buck Showalter, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, who faced the Yankees on Thursday, was hired by Michael as the Yankee manager in 1992 and became Torre’s predecessor.

In a statement, Showalter called Michael “the best baseball evaluator I ever saw.”

“Never missed on an infielder,” he added. Referring to Jeter’s time in the minors, Showalter said Michael “knew Jeter made 40-something errors, and he’s telling me, ‘This guy is going to be an All-Star shortstop.’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yeah, he’s got a little footwork issue.’ How do you project those things and then stand by them? The right kind of stubborn.”

Michael was a vice president of major league scouting for the Yankees from 1996 to 2002, then remained a vice president until he was promoted to senior adviser. He worked with the current general manager, Brian Cashman, and visited Yankee farm teams to evaluate prospects.

“Obviously statistics are used more than ever,” Michael told the publication Commerce, the Business of New Jersey, in December 2014. But turning to his reputation as an exceptional judge of talent, he added, “Numbers are important only to the degree you can blend them with what a scout has seen with his own eyes.”

Former Royal Paul Schaal, the man who George Brett replaced, dies at 74

By Rustin Dodd
The Kansas City Star
September 2, 2017 5:49 PM

Paul Schaal, a former Royals third baseman known for his post-career stints as a Kansas City area pizza restauranteur and chiropractor, died Friday at his home in Waikoloa, Hawaii, after a lengthy battle with cancer, his family confirmed to The Star. He was 74.

Schaal, who played for the Royals from their inaugural season in 1969 to 1974, was perhaps best known for being the man replaced by Hall of Famer George Brett, who debuted in 1973 before becoming a full-time starter in 1974. Years after his playing career concluded, Schaal retained a keen sense of humor about his place in baseball history.

“I use it to my benefit now,” Schaal told The Star in an interview in 2013. “I tell everybody it took a Hall of Famer to take my job from me.”

Schaal remained in Kansas City when his playing career ended in 1974, making a living first as owner of Paul Schaal’s Pizza and Pub and then as a local chiropractor. In 2010, he relocated to Hawaii with his wife, Monica, his son-in-law, Fred Hess, told The Star by phone on Saturday. Schaal was surrounded by his family, including Monica and daughter, Cheryl, as he died peacefully on Friday morning.

Schaal, who graduated from Compton (Calif.) High School, signed with the Los Angeles Angels before the 1962 season and made his major-league debut in 1964. He played five seasons for the Angels, surviving a scary beaning from Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago at Fenway Park in 1968. Schaal was drafted by the Royals the following offseason in the expansion draft. He batted .263 with 32 homers while playing parts of six seasons in Kansas City, including the best season of his career in 1971 when he batted .274 with a .387 on-base percentage and 11 homers.

Schaal was traded back to the Angels in exchange for outfielder Richie Scheinblum on April 30, 1974, clearing the way for Brett. The season would mark Schaal’s last in the major leagues. Yet he remained the answer to a simple trivia question, maintaining a link to Brett and the glorious seasons in the late 1970s and 80s.

Years later, Schaal would treat Brett at his chiropractic clinic, joking about their connection and his intent to get even. But by then, he said, he felt at peace with how his career ended.

“I have no regrets,” he told The Star in 2013. “Let’s put it that way.”

In the final years of his life, Hess said, Schaal still received baseball cards from old fans. He would sign the card and mail it back, then see another one soon thereafter. In the final months, the family contacted the Royals and asked for old footage, Hess said. The sight of him playing third base in a blue and white uniform put Schaal in a good mood.

Paul Casanova: Everyone’s ‘Hermano’

He was the glue that held together a generation of baseball players

By Nick Diunte
by La Vida Baseball
August 15, 2017

It never mattered when I walked in the door, the response was always the same: Whatever he was doing, he would stop, get up, and give me a thousand-dollar smile and a warm hug, folding me into his 6-foot-4 frame.

It didn’t matter to him that I usually came unannounced, or only a few times a year. What did matter was how long I was staying. And he would always ask the question, “When are we going to see you again?”

Each time we parted, I would tell him that I would be back during the next break from teaching, and the response was always, “We’ll be expecting you.”

That was the spirit of Paulino “Paul” Casanova, who was born in Perico, Cuba, and died Saturday in Miami at 75 of cardiorespiratory complications.

I first met “Cazzie” in 2009 through a mutual friend, Gonzalo “Cholly” Naranjo, a former major league pitcher also from Cuba who knew I was a baseball fan. Casanova, a former catcher with the Washington Senators and Atlanta Braves from 1965 to 1974, ran a baseball academy out of his Florida backyard.

We hit it off. Casanova was impressed with my knowledge of the game’s past greats, particularly the Latino ones. His home was a shrine to the lives and careers of these men. He had photos, hundreds of them, lining the walls of his house, giving it the feel of a small but orderly museum. He even decorated the walls behind the batting cages out back with photos, including one of his Hall of Fame teammate in Atlanta, Henry “Hank” Aaron. Each hopeful slugger who entered, from Little League to major league, did so under the gaze of the greats.

During that first visit, I noticed a remarkable-looking man in a Panama hat and sunglasses sitting on one of the chairs.

“Nick, this is my friend Mike Cuéllar,” Casanova said.

I exchanged pleasantries with the Cuban left-hander — and first Latino to win the Cy Young Award — and then made like a fly on the wall while everyone got busy catching up. Cuéllar would be the first of many baseball greats I would meet in my return travels to Paul’s casa. As I was leaving, Casanova promised me a hitting lesson when I returned. A week later, four autographed photos and a note were waiting for me in my mailbox.

Cazzie’s Lessons

As the weather turned in New York, I couldn’t wait to get back. I flew down for a visit the following February and, as promised, he immediately put me to work. Over the next few days, I learned more about my swing than I did playing four years of college ball.

It didn’t matter that one day I was joined in the cages by then-current major leaguers Marco Scútaro and Juan Rivera; he treated me with the same attention. The baseball player in me wished I had met him much sooner. He had such an easy way of picking up the nuances in a swing and explaining them. I could see why so many talented young ballplayers flocked to his tutelage.

I quickly learned Paul’s house was a reunion hall of sorts for his former teammates and Cuban countrymen. The next day, I arrived to find Tony Oliva and Orlando Peña sitting in his backyard carrying on. Oliva later told me that he stopped there every year, just for the day, on his way to spring training with the Twins.

It didn’t stop with those two. Naranjo, Jackie Hernández and José Tartabull were mainstays as they worked alongside Casanova at his academy.

When the annual Joe DiMaggio Legends Game came to Fort Lauderdale every January, long nights were spent playing dominoes at his home by the likes of Bert Campaneris, José Cardenal, Rico Carty, Minnie Miñoso and Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. The event became just as much about those evenings as it was about the game. Bonds that formed when they were all young and strong continued to flourish with every opportunity they had to get together.

The more time I spent there, the clearer it became to me that Paul was the glue that held together a generation of baseball players. If he wasn’t entertaining a visitor, he was on the phone with a former teammate. One day it would be Dusty Baker, today the manager of the Nationals, the team that replaced the Senators in Washington. The next, it would be Hank Allen.

“We were very close,” Allen recently told La Vida Baseball. “He was just such a wonderful human being. We met in the minor leagues and instantly were drawn to each other, and it just never changed. He was such a warm person. We walked up to each other and exchanged pleasantries and it stayed that way forever. When we got to the big leagues, we roomed together.

“We considered each other brothers and family,” Allen said. “It was just wonderful.”

But Casanova wasn’t just about the past. Look at the game of today, and Casanova’s fingerprints are all over it. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder J.D. Martínez, a Cuban-American born in Miami, was a prized student who began working out at the academy as a teenager. Photos of the 29-year-old Martínez, known at Cazzie’s house as Flaco or “skinny,” are sprinkled throughout, a living photo album marking the progress of a high school boy growing into a major league slugger.

I happened to be at Paul’s home the night of August 3, 2011 when Martínez hit his first major league home run. We had been watching MLB Network to see if there were any updates about his protégé. After Martínez connected off of the Reds’ Dontrelle Willis in the first inning and highlights flashed across the screen, everyone stopped.

Paul Casanova Everyones Brother
Where players went to learn how to hit.

“Flaco did it! He hit his first home run!” Casanova exclaimed.

His paternal emotion was evident. Martínez had made his arrival known in the big leagues just four days after his July 30 debut. Casanova couldn’t have been any prouder.

“He’s been coming here since he was a kid,” he said. “We are just happy to see him do it.”

Martínez had so much reverence for Casanova that he brought Miguel Cabrera to work out with him following Cabrera’s 2012 Triple Crown season.

When I asked Casanova if he offered Cabrera any advice at the plate, he let out a quick laugh.

“What can I tell Cabrera?” he said. “He doesn’t need my help. I just watch him hit.”

When La Vida Baseball caught up with Casanova during the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami last month, it was obvious he was the center of attention. His appearance during the All-Star FanFest Clubhouse panels was a showstopper, an impromptu family reunion. When Casanova showed up at Cepeda’s session, Cepeda laid eyes upon Cazzie and bellowed in his deep baritone voice: “¡Casanova!”

A panel featuring Cardenal and Bobby Ramos came to a complete halt as Tartabull wheeled Cazzie to the front row. All decorum was broken as Cardenal and Ramos, fellow Cubans, came off the stage to greet their friend.

The reception he received perplexed many attendees. Who is this guy that literally draws everything to a halt, getting shout-outs from Hall of Famers? Then came the stories. Casanova had long been the guy who brought them together, explained Ramos.

Casanova made these connections during a life in baseball that spanned well over 50 years. The Cuban native’s baseball career took him throughout the Americas, including significant time in Venezuela and the United States.

His career was a case study in persistence. Still a teenager when he left Cuba in 1960, he was twice released by the Cleveland Indians and spent 1961 playing with the Indianapolis Clowns, a one-time Negro League team that barnstormed throughout the U.S. In 1963, Casanova finally caught on after a minor league tryout with the Senators organization.

He made his major league debut on September 18, 1965. However, “it was in Venezuela,” he told those gathered at FanFest, “where I became a ballplayer, because I played against [Luis] Aparicio, all those guys. … I owe it to Venezuela that I made it to the major leagues.”

Casanova was so comfortable in Venezuela that for years during winter league, and after his big league career, he operated a restaurant called La Pelota in the Venezuelan port city of La Guaira. Even back then, Cazzie had been a social catalyst, just as he would be again with the baseball academy in his Miami backyard.

And there were the career highlights — like being a member of the 1967 American League All-Star team and seeing Mickey Mantle walk into the locker room at Anaheim Stadium:

“When he walked into that locker room, it looked like God walked in,” Casanova shared at FanFest.

Like being the starting catcher that same summer for a June 12 extra-inning game against the Chicago White Sox. Casanova worked behind the plate the whole night, and although he only got one hit in nine at-bats, it came in the bottom of the 22nd inning, driving in the winning run.

And six seasons later, catching knuckleballer Phil Niekro’s lone no-hitter of his Hall of Fame career.

“The knuckleball was dancing so much, nobody could hit it, so you knew I had trouble catching it. From the sixth inning on, you didn’t call for anything else,” Casanova said. “After the game, I raised him up [on my shoulder]. We drank a 12-pack of beer. And [Phil] gave me $1,000.”

Despite playing three seasons with the Senators under the tutelage of manager Ted Williams, Casanova was a lifetime .225 hitter. But he had a cannon for an arm, throwing out 37 runners in 1967 and 51 percent of would-be base-stealers in 1970. He was so revered for his catching skills that even the umpires loved to work behind him.

“[He] gave me the best look at the plate of any catcher I worked behind,” umpire Bill Kinnamon said in Larry Gerlach’s book, The Men in Blue. “He absolutely laid on the ground. He would give the signal and then disappear; you wondered where in the hell he went, that’s how low he stayed. … Umpires used to check to see who was pitching the Senators, hoping they’d get Casanova.”

As the weekend went on, Casanova’s health became a topic of discussion among the Latino legends that had gathered at the All-Star Game. His recent hospital visits had many of them worried and concerned. While he was able to muster the strength to appear at All-Star festivities to be around his friends once again, the effort took a toll. He was hospitalized that evening with respiratory problems.

On the day of the All-Star Game, a few retired players arranged to visit Casanova at his house, as he had been released the day before. I arrived with Cholly Naranjo in the early afternoon, but Casanova lamented that he wasn’t up to having visitors that day.

When I got the call a few days ago that his situation had turned grave, so many thoughts and memories from the last eight years came to me. I thought of his big heart and his generosity in sharing so much of his knowledge and his love. Allen managed to speak with Casanova a few weeks ago, and Casanova admitted his condition had worsened. They shared the same goodbyes they always did, a nod to the brotherly love that has persisted for half a century.

“I spoke to him about two weeks ago and he told me he wasn’t doing well,” Allen said. “It was just a shock. I promised that I would stay in touch with him often. There was a saying we would end with, and it didn’t matter, when we talked over the years, he always ended with, ‘I love you, brother,’ and it stayed that way.”

This is how I remember Paul Casanova. A spirit so expansive and full that it attracted friends far and wide — with the strength to keep them together as the forces of time, age and distance tried to exert their will.

He was our hermano, everyone’s brother, and will be missed dearly.

Ken Kaiser, Colorful and Imposing Big League Umpire, Dies at 72

By Richard Sandomir
The New York Times
August 11, 2017

Ken Kaiser, a no-nonsense umpire who was unafraid over his colorful 23-year major league career to confront players and managers, but who lost his job during a misguided labor action by his union, died on Tuesday in Rochester. He was 72.

His son John said the cause was most likely congestive heart failure. Kaiser also had diabetes.

Kaiser called more than 2,800 regular season games in the American League and was part of the umpiring crews for the 1987 and 1997 World Series and the 1991 All-Star Game.

An old-school man in blue, he tried to control the game through force of personality and command of the rule book. He could be tough, funny, loud and belligerent. Ron Luciano, a fellow umpire, once likened Kaiser’s physique — 6-foot-2 and nearly 300 pounds — to a “barrel on which two arms had been stuck on backwards.”

David Fisher, who collaborated on Kaiser’s autobiography, “Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life From Behind the Plate” (2003), said in a telephone interview: “Kenny was big, boisterous, tough and arrogant. He walked with a strut. And he took nothing from nobody — never.”

In umpiring school, Kaiser said, he learned that players and managers were the enemy, although his son said that he developed friendships with players like George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Don Mattingly.

Another lesson: “Whatever call you make is the only right call,” he wrote in his memoir. “Never explain, never apologize.”

Like many umpires, Kaiser detested Earl Weaver, the diminutive, cantankerous manager of the Baltimore Orioles, who frequently battled umpires. He also loathed Eddie Murray, a power-hitting first baseman who played for the Orioles and other teams. Near the end of his career, Murray protested a strike-two call by Kaiser.

In his memoir, Kaiser recalled his response: “We ain’t talked in 15 years. Don’t start now.”

When Murray tossed his bat in the air after Kaiser had called him out on the third strike, Kaiser ejected him (one of 75 players or managers he tossed out in his career). Murray, a future Hall of Famer, challenged him to a fight. Kaiser agreed, telling him, “Eddie, you can even bring your bat with you because the way you’re swinging this year, you couldn’t hit me with it anyway.”

Umpiring was not an easy life, especially during Kaiser’s years in the minor leagues and the early ones after he was called up to the American League. Salaries were modest, the travel was grueling, the long seasons took him away from his wife and children for weeks at a time, and umpires generally could trust only one another.

“An umpire will only take criticism from another umpire,” he told The Washington Post in 1978. “It’s your job to change other people’s minds, to bend them to your way of thinking.” In the off-season, he said, his family told him that he could calm down and stop telling them what to do.

Kenneth John Kaiser Jr. was born in Rochester on July 26, 1945. His father was a military policeman in North Africa during World War II and later became a security guard at Eastman Kodak. His mother, the former Annette Moyer, ran a television repair shop.

In 1964, after graduating from high school, Kaiser tagged along with a friend who was heading south to Al Somers’s umpiring school in Daytona Beach, Fla. — attracted more by the warm weather than by any clear ambition to calls balls and strikes.

“Umpire school was definitely not part of my fantasy,” he wrote. “I had never umpired a game of baseball in my life.”

And while he did not excel in school, he got a job in the Florida Rookie League, beginning a 13-year odyssey through increasingly higher tiers of the minor leagues. “I thought about quitting 50,000 times, like we all do,” he told The Post. “In my last year in the minors, I was making $650 — a month, not a week — that’s for five months a year.”

He moved up to the American League in 1977 and called his first game that April between the California Angels and the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome in Seattle. His first ejection came that September, when he thumbed out Ken Henderson, a Texas Rangers outfielder.

Becoming a major league umpire ended a two-year off-season stint as a professional wrestler. Kaiser had donned an all-black outfit and a mask to become a bad guy known as the Hatchet. (He toted a hatchet into the ring with him.)

He never won a match, he said. He recalled that Haystacks Calhoun, who weighed in at around 500 pounds, once “bounced off the rope and flopped on top of me.” In another match, Kaiser’s opponent unmasked him, revealing his true identity to Eric Gregg, another baseball umpire, who was in attendance. Gregg was so surprised, he dropped his popcorn.

Kaiser’s wrestling detour led to long friendships with the wrestling personalities Big John Studd, Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan, known as the Brain. “Those relationships lasted because they loved hanging out with my dad,” John Kaiser said.

He would adopt another mask — one that protected his face when he worked behind home plate — to call 707 of his 2,815 regular-season games.

But he lost his job in 1999 when he and more than 50 other umpires submitted letters of resignation as part of a strategy conceived by their union leader, Richie Phillips, to force Major League Baseball to negotiate a better labor agreement. Twenty-two of the resignations were accepted, including Kaiser’s. And while several of the men were rehired, Kaiser was not among them.

“He never really got over that,” Ted Barrett, an umpire who was a friend of Kaiser’s, said in a telephone interview. “He and the others didn’t get to go out on their own terms. He resented baseball for the way he was treated.”

It took five years after his resignation for Kaiser to receive severance pay, reported to be $400,000.

In addition to his son, Kaiser is survived by his companion, Cheryl Bogner; his daughter, Lauren Kaiser Nelson; and his half brother, David. His marriage to the former Brenda Coccia ended in divorce.

Kaiser conceded that he was not perfect at his job, something that he was regularly reminded of by fans, players and managers. But he insisted that he had never lost control of a game.

“If I didn’t have the respect of the players and managers, I definitely had their attention on the field,” he wrote. “When I was on the field, they knew that if anyone was going to be intimidated, it wasn’t going to be me.”

Donald John Gross

The Dark Funeral Chapel
August 12, 2017

It is with great sadness that the family of Donald John Gross announces his passing on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at the age 86. Don passed away peacefully at home with his family by his side.

A Memorial Service for Don will be held at Clark Family Funeral Chapel on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 11 a.m. with Cheryl Davis officiating. A Luncheon will immediately follow in the Reflections Reception Center. The family will receive friends on Friday, August 18, from 5-8 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor's choice. Envelopes will be available at the funeral chapel.

Don, 3rd of 12 children, was born on June 30, 1931 in Weidman to Charles and Agnes (Grisdale) Gross. He graduated from Weidman High School with the Class of 1949. Following high school, Don attended Michigan State University on a basketball scholarship until he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds after his freshman year of college. Don had a 13-year career in professional baseball as a left-handed pitcher. Don pitched in 1950-1952 and 1954-1963, with time out in most of 1952 and all of 1953 while in military service. Don was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 21, 1955, with the Cincinnati Reds. Don played 6 years in the major leagues with the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. In his major league career, Don pitched 398 innings over 145 games with a 3.73 ERA, 20 wins, 10 saves, 9 complete games and 230 K’s. Don married the love of his life, June Bernadette McGrath on December 28, 1957 in Bellevue, Kentucky. June preceded him in death on November 19, 2013 after 56 great years of marriage. Don enjoyed hunting, fishing, yard work, golf, playing pool with son David, puzzles, and playing cards. Most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his family and watching the grandkids sporting and school events.

Don is survived by his children, David Gross of Lake Isabella, Deron (Kenda) Gross of Midland, Judi (David Gardner) Gross of Lake; grandchildren Keri (Sam) Mosey of Gasquet, CA, Kami (Brian Lehnert) Maxon of Canadian Lakes, Katie (Ryan Johnson) Maxon of Lakeview, and Jake, Tanner, Julia, and Tara Gross of Midland; great grandchildren Walker Maxon, Oaklee Johnson, and Miles Mosey; brother Larry (Donna) Gross of Lake Isabella, sisters Marilyn Losey of Lake Isabella, Joanne Cochran of Lake Isabella, Charlene Gross of Lake Isabella, Sandy (John) Strazanac of Grand Haven; sister in law Jan Gross of Mt. Pleasant; brother in law Jerry Wiseman of Newport, KY; and many, many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Don was preceded in death by his parents; wife June; brothers Al, Bob, and Jack; and sisters Pat Klump, Virginia Jackson, and Carol Thomas.

The family would like to thank Dr. Michel Hurtubise for his special care to Don over the years.

Daniel James Walton
July 14, 1947 ~ August 9, 2017

The Lindquist Mortuary
August 11, 2017

Daniel James Walton was born July 14, 1947 to Joseph Wyatt Walton and Grace Fragale and passed away Wednesday, August 9, 2017 while doing what he loved, riding his motorcycle from Round Valley Golf Course in Morgan, Utah.

Danny had a wonderful life. He played professional baseball for 16 years. The teams he played for Yankees, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Pilots, Astros and Rangers, Later he worked as a welder.

He was the happiest man with a great love for life and people. He was loud, funny and very affectionate. He had so many friends that loved to be in his company.

In 1983, Danny married Judy in Elko, Nevada. It was love at first sight for them and they were able to spend 34 wonderful years together.

Danny is survived by his wife, Judy, sisters, Charlene (Steve) Alzugaray, Marian (Larry) Kane, brother-in-law, Mick (Christine) Jungles, Brard (Dixie) Bailey, Lyle (Lisa) Bailey, and his children, Cody (Vicki) Walton, Amy Walton, Shelly Walton, Jason Polaro, Daniel Zahl, Bryan (Cassie) Roberts, and Brandon (Tonya) Robertson and nine grandchildren.. He was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Catherine May Walton and brother-in-law, Vaughn “Duck” Bailey.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at the Huntsville Cemetery.

Don Baylor, Slugging M.V.P. in the American League, Dies at 68

By Richard Sandomir
The New York Times
August 7, 2017

Don Baylor, a respected outfielder and designated hitter who won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1979 and mastered the peculiar art of being hit by a pitch, died on Monday in Austin, Tex. He was 68.

His death was reported by Baylor learned he had multiple myeloma in 2003.

Baylor played for six teams over 19 seasons, including the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins. He also managed the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs.

Few players exhibited less awe for pitchers than the muscular, 6-foot-1, 210-pound Baylor. Over the years, as he took his stance in the batter’s box, he crept closer to home plate, finally taking the inside part of the strike zone away from the pitcher. And if he was plunked by a pitch, he didn’t mind.

”My first goal when I go to the plate is to get a hit,” he said in the book “The 1986 Boston Red Sox: There Was More Than Game Six” (2016). “My second goal is to get hit.”

By the time he retired in 1988, he had been hit 267 times, a modern-day record at the time. (It was surpassed by Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros.)

Baylor’s major league career began in 1970 with the Orioles, who had won the World Series in 1966 and would win it again in 1970. His mentor was the future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, an aggressive, intimidating player who later managed Baylor on the Santurce team in the winter league in Puerto Rico after the 1970 season.

“Mostly, he taught me to think while hitting,” Baylor was quoted as saying in the book about the 1986 Red Sox. “He would say, ‘A guy pitches inside, hit that ball right down the line.’ Frank also wanted me to start using my strength more. Frank knew there was a pull hitter buried somewhere inside me.”

But just as Baylor was starting to demonstrate the full scope of his talents, the Orioles sent him to the Oakland Athletics in a six-player deal before the 1976 season that brought Reggie Jackson to Baltimore. Baylor was shocked at the trade and wept when he was told about it by Manager Earl Weaver during an exhibition game. He did not want to leave the Orioles.

After a mediocre season with Oakland — his major highlight was stealing 52 bases — he signed a free-agent contract with the California Angels. But in his first season with the Angels he was slumping badly, and the team hired Robinson, who had been fired as manager of the Cleveland Indians, as batting coach. “Don is so fouled up now that he needs a lot of work,” Robinson told Sports Illustrated.

Baylor recovered to have a good season. He blossomed in 1978 and 1979, when he hit 36 home runs, drove in 139 runs, batted .296 and easily won the M.V.P. Award.

By then, Baylor had established himself as a leader both on and off the field.

“There was no one more feared in the league coming into second base,” Bobby Grich, who played second base as a teammate of Baylor’s on the Orioles and Angels, told The Los Angeles Times in 2002. “He came in like a locomotive. And he had no weaknesses. He led through quiet example. He never let up. He played hurt. He could take a beating.”

Baylor never wanted to admit that being hit by pitches hurt him. But when the fireballing Nolan Ryan nailed him in the wrist, he called the Orioles’ trainer to freeze the injured area, which stayed numb for a year.

Bert Blyleven, a Hall of Fame pitcher who played with and against Baylor, recalled hitting him with a pitch that somehow got stuck under Baylor’s arm.

“He grabbed it and threw it back at me,” Blyleven said in a phone interview on Monday. “I looked at it to see if it was dented.”

Don Edward Baylor was born in Austin on June 28, 1949. His father, George, was a baggage handler for the Missouri Pacific Railroad; his mother, Lillian, was a school cook and cafeteria supervisor. He was one of the three African-American students to integrate O. Henry Junior High School.

He played basketball, football and baseball at Austin High School and was recruited to play football at several colleges, including the University of Texas. But he chose baseballand was drafted by the Orioles in 1967.

He had played three seasons with the Yankees, from 1983 to 1985, but the team did not make the postseason, and he was traded to Boston in late March 1986. (He had not gotten along with George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ tempestuous owner.)

Although he batted only .238 that year with Boston, he hit 31 home runs, had 94 runs batted in and was hit by pitches a career-high 35 times.

The Red Sox faced the Mets in the World Series and were tantalizing close to winning it in Game 6 until Mookie Wilson’s grounder went through the Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. The Mets won that game and went on to win the World Series in Game 7.

But 1987 was different. Baylor struggled through most of the season until the Red Sox traded him to Minnesota, where he hit .286 in the final month. More important, he hit .385 in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and tied Game 6 with a two-run home run. The Twins won that game, 11-5, and also won Game 7.

Blyleven said that Baylor’s arrival on the team had brought an injection of veteran guidance. “Leadership is what he came to us with,” he said. “We had a lot of young guys, and he brought his past, as a great ballplayer, and the way he went about his business. He was all about character and dignity.”

Baylor played one more season, back in Oakland, before starting a career as a manager (with the Rockies, where he was the National League manager of the year in 1995, and the Cubs) and a coach for many teams, most recently the Angels.

Baylor is survived by his wife, the former Rebecca Giles; his son, Don Jr.; his brother, Doug; his sister, Connie; and two granddaughters. His marriage to Jo Cash ended in divorce.

Baylor’s early years with the Orioles introduced him to the kangaroo court, where teammates were fined for infractions of baseball etiquette. With the Red Sox, he was chairman of the court. When Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners in late April 1986, he fined Clemens $5 for surrendering a single to the light-hitting Spike Owen.

Darren Daulton, Catcher for the 1993 Pennant-Winning Phillies, Dies at 55

By Tyler Kepner
The New York Times
August 7, 2017

Darren Daulton, a three-time All-Star catcher who led a ragtag Philadelphia Phillies team to an improbable pennant in 1993, died on Sunday at his home in Clearwater, Fla. He was 55.

The Phillies said the cause was brain cancer, which Daulton had fought for four years.

Daulton, who was given a plaque on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in 2010, started his major league career with Philadelphia in 1983 and stayed with the organization until 1997, when he was traded to the Florida Marlins. He helped the Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series that year, hitting .389 in the Series. He then retired with a .245 batting average, a .357 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage.

The Phillies did not have a formal captain’s position during Daulton’s career, but as a no-nonsense figure who had fought through many knee injuries to become an everyday player, he was the acknowledged team leader.

In 1992, the Phillies finished in last place, but Daulton still managed a career-high 27 home runs and a National-League-leading 109 runs batted in. The next season, he willed Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk and a shaggy group of misfits to a surprise National League Championship Series victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Kruk told the columnist Paul Hagen that when Daulton said anything, his rowdy teammates paid attention. Daulton once cautioned them to keep their mouths shut after the Phillies had won the first three games of a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“It would have been easy for one of us to say something,” Kruk told Hagen. “But that’s the thing. When he spoke, we listened. No one said anything. No one popped off. And we ended up completing the sweep the next day.”

The Phillies lost the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games, with Daulton behind the plate during Joe Carter’s title-clinching home run.

Reliever Mitch Williams, who threw the final pitch, told The New York Times a few days after the game that Daulton had called for a fastball high and away, but that Williams had “jerked the ball” and thrown it low and inside.

Williams received death threats from irate Phillies fans, but his teammates were more supportive, especially Daulton.

“Darren Daulton came over to me in the clubhouse and said, ‘All year, I’ve been tellin’ hitters what’s comin’, and wouldn’t you know, in a World Series someone finally believed me!’” Williams said. “I appreciated that.”

Darren Arthur Daulton was born on Jan. 3, 1962, to Carol and David Daulton in Arkansas City, Kan. He attended Arkansas City High School, where he played quarterback as well as baseball, and he was drafted by the Phillies in the 25th round.

He was a longtime resident of Clearwater, where the Phillies hold spring training. He is survived by his wife, Amanda; his parents; a brother, David Jr.; and four children, Zachary, Summer, Savannah and Darren Jr.

Daulton is the third prominent Phillies alumnus to have died this year. Dallas Green, the manager of their 1980 championship team, died in March, and the Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning died in May.

Lee May, the Big Bopper for the Reds, Dies at 74

By Richard Sandomir
The New York Times

July 31, 2017

Lee May, a slugging first baseman with the Cincinnati Reds who was traded to the Houston Astros for Joe Morgan after the 1971 season and missed the Reds’ becoming one of baseball’s greatest teams a few years later, died on Saturday in Cincinnati. He was 74.

His death, at a hospital, was caused by pneumonia, said his wife, Terrye May.

At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 205 pounds, May wagged his bat before swinging and was nicknamed the Big Bopper. He was part of a Cincinnati team that became known as the Big Red Machine, featuring Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, future Hall of Famers, and Pete Rose, the career hits leader, whose betting on baseball years later has denied him entrance into the Hall.

Led by Manager Sparky Anderson, the Reds won 102 games in 1970 but lost the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles. May’s mighty three-run home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 gave the Reds their only win.

May had one of his best seasons in 1971, hitting 39 home runs (behind Willie Stargell and Hank Aaron) and driving in 98 runs (ranking him sixth in the National League). Al Michaels, then a Reds announcer who car-pooled to Riverfront Stadium with May, said by email: “He was a big presence with zero bombast. Just a rock solid guy with a great, understated sense of humor.”

May’s power hitting for the Reds ultimately made him expendable. After slipping to fourth place in 1971, the Reds decided that they needed more left-handed hitting, speed and defense. In an eight-player deal, May was dealt to Houston for Morgan, a short, speedy, base-stealing second baseman with surprising power.

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Morgan became the catalyst for the Reds’ World Series titles in 1975 and 1976, seasons in which he was also named the National League’s most valuable player.

New Bern’s Bobby Perry a local baseball hero

By Jordan Honeycutt
The New Bern Sun Journal
Posted July 22, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT

Around the time New Bern’s best-known sports icon, Walt Bellamy, was making his name on the basketball court in high school and later in the NBA, another talented athlete was doing the same thing on the baseball diamond.

At West Street High School (a black school during segregation), Bobby Perry played outfield and put a hurting on baseballs.

Perry, born in New Bern in 1933, died July 2 at the age of 83.

After he graduated from West Street in 1953, Perry began playing baseball in the minor leagues.

This was a time that was just six years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in MLB in 1947.

Two of Perry’s West Street schoolmates Robert Phillips and Scobby Midgette recall memories of their friend.

“Oh Bobby was great, he could hit the ball so well and was fast,” Midgette said.

“He was playing a game here and a New York Giants’ scout came to watch another guy play and ended up so impressed with Bobby.”

Phillips, who lived side-by-side to Perry and their mothers were best friends, went to school together and fought in the Korean War with his buddy as well.

“He started out with the Giants and then played all over the place in the minors and then went on to the Angels,” Phillips said.

“I got to see him play in Washington D.C. when the Angels came and played the Senators.”

Phillips said Perry was a hero here in New Bern when he came back into town.

On the back of Perry’s 1964 Topps baseball card, it lists his career as follows: 1953 - OshKosh, Wis.; 1954-55 - Military Service (Korean War); 1956 - Muskogee, Okla.; 1957 - Danville, Va.; 1958 - Charlotte, N.C. and Springfield, Mass.; 1959 - Sacramento, Calif.; 1960-62 - Tacoma, Wash.; 1963 - Tacoma and Hawaii; 1963-64 - Los Angeles Angels.

Though Perry’s Major League career spanned just two years with the Angels, his baseball career is filled with noteworthy moments.

“Bobby got traded to the Angels because the Giants had Willie Mays in centerfield,” Midgette said.

Perry was “stuck” behind one of the greatest statistical players of all time in Mays on a Giants team that also had Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.

In addition to getting to know Mays, Perry had a home run in his career that according to those close to them, he never forgot and didn’t let them either.

(The Angels) were playing the Yankees and Hall of Famer Whitey Ford was pitching,” Phillips said.

“In his first at-bat against Whitey, Bobby hit a home run.”

Perry’s daughter, Ivette Perry-Jones said she also remembers her father bragging about that home run off Ford.

“Oh he was so proud of that,” she said.

Perry’s career MLB stats include a .266 batting average, 103 hits, 17 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 35 runs scored.

Phillips said that Perry just truly loved the game and still talked about baseball and watched it after he was done playing.

“He went and played winter ball down in Panama and when the Negro Leagues would barnstorm and come through New Bern, playing games at Kafer Park, if Bobby was in town, he’d play with them,” Phillips said.

Phillips recalled seeing Mays hit a ball 500-plus feet in one game.

“He hit that thing all the way out and into the frog pond,” Phillips said.

A group of friends would go up to Bojangles in the mornings and share stories and gather in friendship.

Phillips said that Perry often talked about the vast difference in what players make these days versus when he played.

“Bobby made $1,300 a month,” Phillips said.

“Now that was good money back then.”

Phillips said that Perry worked at Cherry Point after his baseball career was through.

Phillips noted that he and Perry had been best friends for 75 years leading up to Perry’s death July 22.

Former MLB pitcher Rheinecker dies; Metro East native starred at Gibault

By Ben Frederickson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jul 20, 2017

Former major league pitcher John Rheinecker, who starred at Waterloo's Gibault High and made stops at Belleville Area College (Southwestern Illinois) and Southwest Missouri State (Missouri State) as he worked his way to becoming a first-round draft pick in 2001, died Tuesday (July 18, 2017) in St. Louis.

He was 38.

According to family, Rheinecker had been suffering from depression and took his own life.

The 6-foot-2 lefty from small-town Hecker made 20 starts and 44 total appearances for the Texas Rangers between 2006 and 2007. He finished with an 8-9 record and a 5.65 ERA. Thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and arthroscopic shoulder surgery contributed to the end of his major league career.

Rheinecker turned pro after he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round (37th pick) of the 2001 amateur draft. He was later traded to Texas in a three-team deal in 2006, where he made his major league debut.

The Belleville News-Democrat spoke with multiple former coaches of Rheinecker. They recalled a ferocious competitor and quiet team leader.

"It's one of those things you just don't know what to think," former Belleville Area College coach Neil Fiala told the newspaper. "Really, you don't know what to say. The biggest thing is heartfelt sorrow for his family and friends. Prayers for all of them — everybody."

Rheinecker played in the Mon-Clair men's baseball league and worked at a trucking company after his major league career ended. He is survived by his wife, two children, two stepchildren and his mother, among others.

A visitation is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Quernheim Funeral Home in Waterloo, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

Bob Wolff, Sports Broadcaster for Nearly 80 Years, Dies at 96

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
July 16, 2017

Bob Wolff, who called Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series, the Giants’ overtime loss in the epic 1958 National Football League championship game and the Knicks’ two title runs in a record-setting eight decades as a sports broadcaster, died on Saturday in South Nyack, N.Y. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by his son Rick.

“If you added all the time up, I’ve spent about seven days of my life standing for the national anthem,” Mr. Wolff once said.

Mr. Wolff was behind the microphone from the radio age to the rise of cable television. He was cited by Guinness World Records in 2012 as having the longest career of any sports broadcaster.

He started out in 1939 while a student and former baseball player at Duke University, broadcasting games on a local CBS radio station. He became the first sportscaster for Washington’s WTTG-TV on the old DuMont network in 1946. A year later, he began doing television play-by-play for the often lowly Washington Senators when most of the tiny black-and-white sets were in taverns and hotels.

More recently, Mr. Wolff was a sports commentator for the cable TV station News 12 Long Island, which he joined when it was founded in 1986. He delivered his final essay in February.

Mr. Wolff teamed with Joe Garagiola on NBC-TV’s baseball Game of the Week in the early 1960s. He was a broadcaster for Madison Square Garden for more than 50 years on staff and as a freelancer, calling Knicks and Rangers games, college basketball and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. On radio, he called the last half of Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the sudden-death overtime N.F.L. championship game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts.

“The Colts are the world champions — Ameche scores!” Mr. Wolff said, his voice rising, as Colts fullback Alan Ameche won the game on a 1-yard touchdown plunge.

In April 2013, Mr. Wolff donated some 1,400 video and audio recordings, representing about 1,000 hours of his broadcast work, to the Library of Congress. They included interviews with Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Joe Louis.

“He was an archivist at heart,” said Gene DeAnna, head of the recorded sound section of the Library of Congress. “He was systematic, organized and had this sense of the future and the sense of the importance of his legacy to keep it and to take care of it, and we were very grateful that he did.”

Mr. Wolff was inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. (At his induction ceremony, he played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his ukulele.) He received the Curt Gowdy media award from the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Mr. Wolff prided himself on being a well-prepared journalist.

“In the old, old days it was the voice that mattered,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2005. “But I felt the one thing that gave me longevity was coming up with angles, creative points, story lines. I approached every sport with the soul of a sportswriter.”

Curt Smith, a historian of baseball broadcasting, said Mr. Wolff had a voice that was “erudite but not unapproachable.”

As Mr. Smith told The Washington Post in 1995: “He has a sense of humor — with the old Senators he had to — and he was always honest. There was no phony baloney with Bob Wolff.”

But Mr. Wolff did enjoy telling how he once broadcast a professional basketball game when he was not at the arena. It happened on March 5, 1966, when bad weather prevented him from flying to Cincinnati for a Knicks-Royals game that was to be telecast back to New York on WOR-TV. Mr. Wolff broadcast the game off a TV monitor while sitting in the station’s studio on the 83rd floor of the Empire State Building.

“I did not want to make a public confession that I was not able to get to the game,” Mr. Wolff wrote in The New York Times 14 years later. “Yet journalistic honesty compelled me to make an acknowledgment that circumstances were different.”

He told his audience, “Tonight’s game is coming to you from Cincinnati with the audio being transmitted from the WOR-TV studios high up in the Empire State Building.”

The broadcast went smoothly, but Mr. Wolff did not relate details of his adventure until December 1980, shortly before NBC’s experiment in telecasting a professional football game without an announcer, using Bryant Gumbel for studio comments and updates.

As Mr. Wolff put it then, “I can no longer be accused of being the trendsetter.”

Robert Alfred Wolff was born in New York City on Nov. 29, 1920. His father, Richard, was a mechanical engineer. His mother, the former Estelle Cohn, was a homemaker.

He was an outfielder at Duke, but after breaking his ankle in a slide as a sophomore, he began broadcasting the baseball team’s games for the CBS radio station WDNC in Durham, N.C.

Mr. Wolff served in the Navy as a supply officer in the Pacific during World War II, ending his service as a lieutenant. He then became the sports director for WINX radio in Washington in 1946. A year later, when he was hired as the Senators’ first TV broadcaster, there were only a few hundred sets in Washington. He and his wife, Jane, did not own one, so she went to an appliance store to watch the games.

Mr. Wolff, who broadcast on radio as well as TV for the Senators, also did their pregame and postgame shows, pitched batting practice and, playing the ukulele, teamed with several ballplayers to form the Singing Senators, who once displayed their amateur musical talents on NBC’s “Today” show.

He remained with the franchise through 1961, the team’s first year as the Minnesota Twins.

Mr. Wolff contributed features and commentaries to MSG Network after his long tenure covering events at the Garden. In June 2009, the Washington Nationals, who brought baseball back to the city in 2005, unveiled a plaque naming the home broadcast booth at Nationals Park the Bob Wolff Suite.

In addition to his wife, the former Jane Hoy, and his son Rick, Mr. Wolff is survived by his son Robert; a daughter, Margy Clark; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

In the 1950s, when the original Senators were continuing to finish far from first place, Mr. Wolff knew that their long-suffering fans needed diversions from the team’s habitual losing.

On Memorial Day 1957, the Senators were playing a doubleheader against the Yankees at Griffith Stadium when he picked out an ostensibly typical fan in the stands to interview on the radio between games.

In a memoir, “It’s Not Who Won or Lost the Game — It’s How You Sold the Beer” (1996), Mr. Wolff recalled the moment:

“Are you originally from Washington, sir?”

“No, I’m a Californian. I was and still am.”

“Have you done much traveling around the country?”

“I’ve been in most of the 48 states at one time or another. And I’ve also traveled a bit abroad in the last few years.”

“What sort of work do you do, sir?”

“I work for the government.”


“My boss is President Eisenhower. I’m the vice president.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, our guest has been Vice President Richard Nixon.”

As Mr. Wolff put it in his memoir, “Politics notwithstanding, good straight men are hard to find.”

Gene Conley, Dual-Sport Threat With World Series and N.B.A. Titles, Dies at 86

By Daniel E. Slotnik
The New York Times
July 5, 2017

All professional athletes dream of winning a championship. But very few have won championships in two major American professional sports. Gene Conley was one of them.

Conley, who died at 86 on Tuesday at his home in Foxborough, Mass., pitched for the World Series champion Milwaukee Braves in 1957. At 6 feet 8 inches — he was the tallest pitcher in the major leagues at the time — he also carved out a parallel career in professional basketball, playing during baseball’s off-season and winning three N.B.A. titles with the Boston Celtics, from 1958 to 1961.

The only other pro athlete of note to rival that feat was Otto Graham, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Cleveland Browns during their dominant years, in the 1940s and ’50s. Aside from his pro football titles, Graham, in 1946, won a championship with the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League, a precursor of the N.B.A.

But that was before Graham began his football career. Unlike Conley, who maintained a grueling two-sport schedule for almost a decade, Graham never again played in two different sports seasons in one year.

By contrast, Conley played 18 professional seasons in 12 years. In six consecutive years during which his baseball and basketball careers overlapped, he played 12 professional seasons without taking a break.

Conley played two sports simultaneously longer than dual-sports stars like Dave DeBusschere (basketball and baseball) and Bo Jackson (football and baseball) — indeed, longer than any other two-sport athlete except Deion Sanders, who played both baseball and football for nine years.

Conley’s death was confirmed by his daughter Kelly Conley, who said he had heart failure.

A multiple-sport talent in high school, Conley was more dominant on the diamond than on the court. He started in the Braves’ farm system in 1951, when the team was in Boston. (He pitched in four games for the Braves in 1952.) Throughout his career he relied on a blistering fastball and a deceptive curveball in compiling a record of 91-96 with a 3.82 earned run average.

His wingspan was so great that his fastball appeared “to come out of third base,” Al Hirshberg wrote in a 1955 profile in The Saturday Evening Post.

“I could sling the ball good,” Conley said in an interview for this obituary in 2012. “I pitched nearly my whole career with just two pitches, and if you do that you usually don’t last too long.”

Conley won nine games in his championship season with the Braves, pitching alongside Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette on a team that also included the sluggers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Wes Covington. But he did not start in the World Series against the Yankees, making only one forgettable relief appearance.

He later pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and eventually returned to Boston to pitch for the Red Sox. His baseball coaches pushed him not to play basketball, usually to no avail.

Major league baseball in the 1950s was far less lucrative than it is today, and Conley, like most players, needed an off-season job. While playing with the Braves’ Class AAA team, he pitched a game against a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team on which Bill Sharman, better known as a sharpshooting guard for the Celtics, played third base.

Sharman had been impressed by Conley’s basketball talent after seeing him play for Washington State College (now University) against John Wooden’s U.C.L.A. team in the Pacific Coast Conference finals when Conley was a sophomore. After the game Sharman offered to approach the Celtics’ coach, Red Auerbach, to see if Conley could try out for the team.

“He called Red Auerbach and said, ‘I saw this skinny guy from Washington — you should give him a call,’ ” Conley said. “I had no idea who Red Auerbach or the Celtics were.”

Conley made the team as a reserve center and earned $4,500 for the 1952-53 season, appearing in 39 games. His baseball manager was displeased, and the next season the Braves paid him $5,000 not to play basketball. He stayed off the court until 1958, when the Braves cut his salary after he had lost six consecutive games.

Conley won three Celtics championships playing alongside, among others, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones and Bill Russell, who sometimes switched from center, his primary position, to forward when Conley was in the game. A talented defender and rebounder, Conley averaged 8.3 rebounds per game in the 1959-60 season while guarding the likes of the 7-1 Wilt Chamberlain.

In the years the Celtics made the playoffs, Conley would show up late for baseball’s spring training.

Many coaches and teammates supposed that playing basketball during the entire off-season would leave him in shape for spring training, but that was not the case, Conley said.

“I’d just go down there for two weeks and tell them I was ready to go, but I really wasn’t,” he said. “The muscles are so different that when you get on dirt and put cleats on, it’s like running on clay, so all these different muscles get really sore.”

Playing dual seasons allowed little time to recuperate from injuries, which often impaired his pitching. He struggled with back pain throughout his career and shoulder problems starting in 1955.

During the 1960 season, the Phillies offered Conley $20,000 to take the winter off. He made a counteroffer, which the Phillies rejected. They then traded him to the Red Sox near the end of 1960, making him the only athlete to play for three different Boston teams — the Braves, the Red Sox and the Celtics.

He retired from baseball after a disappointing 1963 season, with the close of his basketball career not far off. In 1961 he had left the Celtics to play in the American Basketball League, then moved to the Knicks of the N.B.A. the next year and retired after the 1963-64 season.

Donald Eugene Conley was born on Nov. 10, 1930, in Muskogee, Okla., to Raymond Leslie Conley and the former Eva Beatrice Brewer. After his family moved to Richland, Wash., he lettered in baseball, basketball and track at Columbia High School.

Conley entered Washington State College on a baseball scholarship in 1949. He played in the College World Series that year, after a season in which Washington State had finished 29-6 and Conley had batted .417 and won five games, with two shutouts.

He played only one season of college basketball, but in that season he was named an all-American as he helped Washington State win the Pacific Coast Northern Division, for which he was inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame. His pitching attracted scouts from many major league teams, and he signed with the Boston Braves in 1950.

Conley started pitching in the minors in 1951, the same year he married Kathryn Dizney, who survives him. He was named minor league player of the year by The Sporting News in 1951 and again in 1953, becoming the first player to receive the honor twice. (The feat was later duplicated by Sandy Alomar Jr.)

Conley beat the Brooklyn Dodgers five times in his first season with the Braves, when the team included luminaries like Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, and pitched in three All-Star Games, winning one in 1955.

Toward the end of his career with the Red Sox, he received regular cortisone shots in his shoulder but did not tell the team, fearing his career would be over if it was known he had a sore arm. Though he won a career-high 15 games in 1962, his arm never recovered.

After his dual career, Conley moved with his wife to Foxborough, where they established the Foxboro Paper Company and ran it for 34 years before retiring to Florida. They later returned to Foxborough.

In addition to his wife and his daughter Kelly, he is survived by another daughter, Diane Kathryn Quick; a son, Gene Raymond; a sister, Billye Lynn Drew; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Conley’s basketball coaches, he recalled, were less concerned about his dual career than his baseball ones: “Red Auerbach used to say, ‘Well, Gene, the playoffs are over, the season’s over, now you can go down and try to get out of shape so you can pitch.’ ”

Anthony Young, Who Lost 27 Consecutive Decisions for Mets, Dies at 51

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
June 28, 2017

Anthony Young, who lost 27 consecutive decisions pitching for the woeful Mets of the early 1990s, setting a major league record while becoming something of a national celebrity, died on Tuesday in Houston. He was 51.

His family confirmed the death. Young said in January that he had an inoperable brain tumor.

Pitching for teams that lost 193 games over two seasons, Young lost 14 games as a starter and 13 in relief amid some no-decisions from May 6, 1992 to July 24, 1993, all the while bearing his burden with grace.

A 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander who relied on a fastball and slider, Young was a lot better than his record indicated — if he were not, he presumably would not have lasted as long as did. He retired 23 consecutive San Diego Padres batters after a leadoff single only to be beaten, 2-0, on an eighth-inning homer when he lost his 26th straight. He compiled 15 saves in 1992.

But he went 2-14 that season and 1-16 in 1993.

As the streak grew longer, Young received good-luck charms from fans around the country.

“I still have a box in my attic of stuff people sent me,” he told The New York Times in 2011. “I got a letter from Bob Feller. I got lucky dollars, rabbits’ feet.” He also received advice from psychics.

“I went out there with a four-leaf clover in my back pocket,” he said. “Believe me, you’ll try anything to break something like that.”

Young was hailed for his composure in a Times editorial on June 14, 1993, headlined “A Noble Loser” after he lost his 21st game in a row and was closing in on the major league record for futility.

“Mr. Young endures all this with remarkable dignity, acknowledging the pain of his predicament but never giving in to it by whining,” the editorial said.

After Young lost his 23rd consecutive decision, tying the record set by Cliff Curtis with the Boston Braves in 1910 and 1911, Curtis’s descendants visited him. Young told Sports Illustrated in 2012 that they wanted the record “to stay in their family,” adding that he wished “they could’ve kept it.”

After loss No. 23, Young left the Mets’ clubhouse wearing a black T-shirt reading “LIVE AND LEARN.” “I’m not the type to run and hide from my problems,” he said.

Jay Leno had roasted Young’s travails in his monologues on “The Tonight Show.” Soon after the slide ended, rather than hoping the baseball world would forget about it, Young appeared as a guest on the show.

Anthony Wayne Young was born on Jan. 19, 1966, in Houston, to James and Ruthie Mae Young. His father was a machinist.

He was drafted by the Montreal Expos out of high school but enrolled in the University of Houston instead, pitching for the Cougars and also playing on the football team. The Mets made him their 38th-round pick in the 1987 draft, and he made his debut with them in August 1991.

Young was traded to the Chicago Cubs in March 1994 after going 5-35 in his three seasons with the Mets. He spent two years with the Cubs and another with the Houston Astros, then retired after six major league seasons with a 15-48 record and 20 saves.

After leaving baseball, he managed a warehouse for a chemical company and coached youth baseball in the Houston area.

Young’s survivors include his wife, the former Mia Kerl, as well as children and grandchildren. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

Young’s streak ended on July 28, 1993, at Shea Stadium, when he gave up a go-ahead run relieving against the Florida Marlins in the ninth inning but was credited with a victory when the Mets scored twice in the bottom of the inning for a 5-4 win. The Mets’ manager, Dallas Green, popped open a champagne bottle that he had kept around awaiting the magical moment.

“It wasn’t a monkey, it was a zoo,” Young said afterward of the proverbial lifting of a burden from his back. “It was like winning the World Series.”

Hector Wagner
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Santo Domingo

Hector Wagner, a former Major League pitcher, died Monday morning after losing the battle against stomach cancer diagnosed in 2013.

The late right-hander played with the Kansas City Royals in the majors and the local ball played for many years with the Eagles Cibañas.

Hector Raul Guerrero Wagner, born on November 26, 1968, in San Juan Province, died at his home in the city of Clifton, New Jersey, USA, after falling into a critical situation a week ago.

Wagner played Major League Baseball with the Kansas City Royals, a franchise that signed him in 1986 (May 13) recommended by Luis Silverio.

Four years later, he debuted in Las Mayores the 10 of September of the 1990, remaining at that level until 1991, being its last exit 11 of October.

MLB legend Jimmy Piersall dead at 87

By Howie Kussoy
The New York Post
June 4, 2017 4:48pm EDT

Jimmy Piersall, the colorful All-Star outfielder who famously was hospitalized with mental illness during his playing career and detailed his struggle in his book turned movie “Fear Strikes Out,” died Saturday at the age of 87.

Piersall, who died at a care facility in Wheaton, Ill., following a months-long illness, spent 17 seasons in the majors with five different teams, which included a short stint with the 1963 Mets. During his 40 games with the second-year franchise, Piersall rounded the bases backwards after hitting his 100th career home run on June 23, 1963.

Before Piersall earned two trips to the All-Star game, and collected two Gold Gloves, his career was nearly derailed following an emotional breakdown during his first full season with the Red Sox in 1952. Piersall was admitted to a mental hospital in Massachusetts, where he would remain for six weeks, and undergo shock treatment, for what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Piersall returned to the Red Sox the next season, and finished ninth in the MVP voting, remaining with Boston through the 1958 season. In 1955, he released “Fear Strikes Out,” in hopes of erasing the negative perceptions associated with the rarely discussed subject of mental illness.

“I want the world to know that people like me who have returned from the half-world of mental oblivion are not forever contaminated,” Piersall wrote.

In 1957, Anthony Perkins portrayed Piersall on screen in “Fear Strikes Out,” though the subject of the film later criticized its unfair portrayal of his father, John.

During his career, with the Red Sox, Senators, Mets and Angels, in which he compiled a lifetime .272 average, the unpredictable Piersall often drew attention for his antics, which included getting into a fistfight with the Yankees’ Billy Martin, imitating St. Louis Browns pitcher Satchel Paige’s wind-up, and making pig sounds at the legendary ace, and crying in the dugout after manager Lou Boudreau told him that he wouldn’t play.

Piersall retired in 1967, then most notably spent time as a broadcaster with the White Sox in his post-playing career, though he was fired in 1983 for being too critical of the team. Piersall also appeared in an episode of “The Lucy Show,” with Lucille Ball, and worked as a minor league baseball manager.

Piersall is survived by his wife, Jan, and his nine children.

Herman "Herm" Paul Starrette

November 20, 1936 ~ June 2, 2017

The Nicholson Funeral Home
Jume 4, 2017

Herman Paul Starrette, 80, of Statesville NC, passed away at Gordon Hospice house Friday June 2, 2017. He was born November 20, 1936 to the late Anna Mae Kennedy and James Robert Starrette.

Herm was born, raised and resided in Cool Spring. Herm was a loving family man who loved the game of baseball. Growing up the youngest of nine siblings he learned the benefits of hard work, farming and the love of sports. His older brothers loved the game of baseball and their influence drove him to want to be like them. He would throw rocks at a tree and pretend he was pitching in Yankee Stadium. That dream eventually came true for Herm.

He graduated from Cool Spring High School. During that time, he learned the game of baseball from Paul Brendle, whom he always said was one of the best coaches he ever had. His battery mate and lifelong friend at Cool Spring High School was Jerry Fox, who helped Herm continue his baseball career and get into Lenoir Rhyne after High School. He always credits Jerry for keeping in Baseball and allowing him to later sign with the Baltimore Orioles. He would talk about walking out of an English exam at LR and telling the professor he was going to play baseball with the Orioles because he thought he would be better at that than the exam.

During his 42 year Professional Baseball career he coached and played with many Hall of Fame players. He credits Earl Weaver, and George Bamberger with teaching him the game that became his life.

Some of his greatest accomplishments included wining a 17 inning game with Baltimore against Gaylord Perry which they both pitched all 17 innings that was suspended with a 1-1 tie. The game was continued and Billy DeMars hit a home run to win the game in the 18th. Herm’s first Major League pitching coach job was with the Atlanta Braves. He was part of the celebration with Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record with his 715th home run . Herm was actually named after George Herman “Babe” Ruth. He was the Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach for the 1980 World Series Championship.

He was still giving pitching and coaching advice during his last days in the hospital to his beloved friends Dan Duquette and Kent Qualls with the Baltimore Orioles.

He enjoyed going to solve the world’s problems with his breakfast friends lead by the notorious Ted Evans, at Sunshine Restaurant and First RX. He loved sitting on his back patio with his wife Betty, visiting with his friends and neighbors that would stop by to visit, listening and watching the birds and squirrels. Thanks to Tim Daley, David and Kaye Padgett (Brutice).

Those left to cherish his memories are wife Betty Lou Sigmon; daughter and son in law, Lisa and Scott Bass; and grand daughter, Laura. Sisters; Hazel Phillips and Bertha Marlow and his many beloved nieces and nephews.

He was proceeded in death by brothers; George, Lawrence, Rueben, Clyde, Jack, and James Robert “Demp” Starrette. His beloved Yorkie “Missy”.

He was a member of New Salem Methodist Church and served in the National Guard.

A Memorial Service to celebrate the life of Herm will be held 2:00 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at New Salem United Methodist Church with the Rev. David Gay officiating. The family will visit with friends following the service.

In lieu of flowers, condolences may be sent Gordons Hospice House (2341 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625), Iredell County Animal Services (430 Bristol Drive, Statesville, NC 28677), and New Salem Methodist Church (155 New Salem Road, Statesville, NC 28625).

Special thanks to Doctors: Paul Kirkman, James Foushee, Carla Pence, and Ray Georgeson and all the nurses and staff at Iredell Memorial Hospital and Gordons Hopice House.

The Nicholson Funeral Home is serving the family.

Hall of Famer and ex-Senator Jim Bunning dead at 85

The Associated Press
May 27, 2017 2:00pm EDT

Louisville, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

Bunning’s death was confirmed by Jon Deuser, who served as chief of staff when Bunning was in the Senate. Deuser said he was notified about the death by Bunning’s family.

Bunning was one of only 18 Major League Baseball pitchers to throw a perfect game in the modern era. In the Senate, his ornery nature forced Republican leaders to push him to retire after two terms.

The Kentucky Republican also served 12 years in the U.S. House. He was a staunchly conservative voice in the Senate and a fierce protector of state interests such as tobacco, coal and military bases. He did not seek re-election in 2010.

The only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to serve in Congress, Bunning was the second pitcher to record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in the American and National Leagues.

Funeral arrangements set for Ed Mierkowicz, member of Detroit Tigers’ 1945 World Championship team

By Jim Kasuba
May 22, 2017

Funeral arrangements are set for Edward Mierkowicz of Wyandotte, the last living member of the Detroit Tigers’ 1945 World Series championship team.

A memorial gathering will be held at 10 a.m. June 1 at The Martenson Family of Funeral Homes’ Trenton Chapel, 3200 West Road. A memorial service will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Mr. Mierkowicz was born March 5, 1924, in Wyandotte. He died May 19, 2017, at American House Senior Living in Rochester Hills. He was 93.

Mr. Mierkowicz was a graduate of Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte. Upon graduation, he proudly served in the U.S. Army.

He was considered an excellent all-around athlete who continued playing baseball for many years after his professional career with the Detroit Tigers had ended.

In addition to baseball, he enjoyed golf, football and other sports.

He was the husband of the late Kathryn and the late Janette Mierkowicz. He was the father of Linda Edwards, Brenda Schervish, Lisa Mayra, the late Tom Tiefer and the late Kip Tiefer.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ignatius and Helen Mierkowicz; his brother, Joe, and sister, Clara.

He is survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Rev. David Lesniak from St. Timothy Catholic Church in Trenton, as well as the Downriver Veterans Honor Guard, will participate in the memorial service. Memorial contributions may be made as the donor chooses.

Robert L. (Bob) Kuzava
May 28 1923 - May 15, 2017

Czopek Funeral Directors
May 17, 2017

Survived by wife Dona of 74 years. Daughters, Diane (Fred) Kramer, Theresa and the late Jeanne. Sons, Robert Jr. and Tom (Diane) Kuzava.

Proud grandfather of 6 and great grandfather of 10.

Bob was a MLB pitcher for 10 years and also a WWII Veteran.

Memorial Service:
June 4. 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Epicurean Hall
3530 Biddle Ave.Wyandotte, MI, US, 48192

MLB umpire supervisor Palermo dies at 67

By Jeffrey Flanagan
May 14th, 2017

KANSAS CITY -- Former Major League umpire and Kansas City resident Steve Palermo has died at the age of 67, Major League Baseball announced on Sunday.

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: "Steve Palermo was a great umpire, a gifted communicator and a widely respected baseball official, known in our sport for his leadership and courage. He had an exceptional impact on both his fellow Major League Umpires and baseball fans, who benefited from his ability to explain the rules of our game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Steve's wife Debbie, the World Umpires Association and his many friends and admirers throughout the game."

• Posnanski: Love of baseball sustained Palermo

Palermo made his debut as an American League umpire in 1976 and was a full-time ump from '77-91.

"It didn't take him long to become one of the most respected umpires in baseball," said Royals vice president of baseball operations George Brett. "I found out he had cancer and didn't realize how serious it was until Spring Training. It has devastated me."

During the summer of 1991, Palermo and another man were shot while trying to help two waitresses who were being robbed outside a Dallas restaurant. He was left partially paralyzed. But through intense and painful therapy, Palermo was able to walk again with the help of a cane.

Palermo was hired in 1994 as a special assistant to the chairman of the Major League Executive Council. In 2000, he became an umpire supervisor for MLB, serving as a liaison between Major League umpires and the Office of the Commissioner.

From that point on, Palermo became a fixture in the Kauffman Stadium press box.

In July 2005, Palermo served as honorary commissioner at The White House Tee Ball initiative on the South Lawn, featuring children with physical disabilities. The program was launched by President George W. Bush in '01 to promote a spirit of teamwork and service for America's youth. Palermo was honored prior to the start of the '12 All-Star Game in his adopted hometown of Kansas City.

Sam Mele, Major League Player, Manager and Scout, Dies at 95

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
May 3, 2017

Growing up in Queens, where he played high school baseball, Sam Mele had no shortage of advice on the fine points of the game. His uncles Tony and Al Cuccinello were major league infielders, and Tony’s Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Al Lopez, who was their catcher and a future Hall of Fame manager, dropped by to give him a tip or two.

Mele became an outstanding baseball and basketball player at New York University, played for 10 seasons in the major leagues, mostly in the outfield, then managed the Minnesota Twins to the 1965 American League pennant.

He died on Monday at his home in Quincy, Mass., at 95, remembered for a baseball career spanning nearly half a century. His death was announced by his first major league team, the Boston Red Sox, with whom he had a long association.

Mele (pronounced MEE-lee) had been a coach for the original Washington Senators and their successors, the Twins, when he was named their manager in June 1961, the Twins’ first season in Minneapolis, succeeding Cookie Lavagetto.

With a lineup featuring the future Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew; Tony Oliva, who won his second consecutive batting championship; and shortstop Zoilo Versalles, the league’s most valuable player that season, and with a pitching staff headed by Mudcat Grant and Jim Kaat and molded by Johnny Sain, one of the era’s finest pitching coaches, the Twins won the 1965 pennant with 102 victories.

They were bested by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series, but Mele was named the American League manager of the year by The Associated Press and The Sporting News.

“Sam was perfect for us at that time,” Kaat told The St. Paul Pioneer Press when he attended a 50th anniversary reunion of that Twins team. “There wasn’t a lot of overmanaging in those days. They just threw the ball out and let you play, and Sam did that and it was the best thing for us.”

The Twins won 89 games in 1966, finishing nine games behind the pennant-winning Baltimore Orioles. When they were off to a sluggish start in 1967, Mele was fired in June and replaced by Cal Ermer, a longtime minor league manager.

Mele then returned to the Red Sox as a special assignment instructor and scout, remaining with Boston until retiring from baseball in the early 1990s.

Sabath Anthony Mele was born in Queens on Jan. 21, 1922, a son of Antonio Mele, who worked for Consolidated Edison, and his wife, Anna, both immigrants from Italy. He played baseball for Bryant High School in Queens, then became one of the leading collegiate hitters in the New York metropolitan area with N.Y.U. He was also selected for the area’s all-star basketball team as a 6-foot-1 guard for the Violets during World War II.

Having enlisted in the Marine reserves in 1942, Mele was called into active service in July 1943 and entered Yale to join a Navy-Marine Corps training program for World War II service offered at colleges around the country. Students in the program were allowed to participate in athletics, so he played baseball for Yale in 1943 before leaving for wartime duty. He served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific and played on military baseball teams. He was discharged from the Marines in 1946.

Signed by the Red Sox for a reported $30,000 bonus, Mele made his debut for them in 1947. A right-handed batter, he hit .302 with 12 home runs and 73 runs batted in, usually playing right field.

Mele had two stints with the Red Sox and also played for the Senators, the Chicago White Sox, the Orioles, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians.

Mele led the A.L. in doubles with 36 and had a career-best 94 R.B.I. with the 1951 Senators. He retired from the majors after the 1956 season with a .267 career batting average and 80 home runs.

He is survived by his sons Steven and Scott; his daughters Sherry Ann Mele, Marcia Mele and Marilyn McCabe; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson. His wife, Connie, died in 2011.

Mele was considered a low-key manager, but he asserted his authority in a 1965 spring training game in an incident that might have played a role in the Twins’ pennant-winning run.

Mele had been unhappy with Versalles’s play at shortstop, and when Versalles seemed to make a halfhearted attempt to field a grounder against the Mets, Mele yanked him.

As recounted in The New York Times, Versalles headed for the clubhouse after the inning, but Mele told him: “Go sit in the dugout and watch the game. You might learn something.”

When Versalles hesitated, Billy Martin, Mele’s third-base coach, beckoned Versalles to sit next to him. “O.K., for you I go,” Versalles told Martin.

“You’ll do it for me,” Mele retorted, “and that will cost you $100.”

Versalles: “Why not make it $200?”

Mele: “O.K., it’s $200.”

Versalles: “Why not $300?”

Mele: “That’s what it is, $300.”

Martin made Versalles his reclamation project during the season, encouraging him to hustle and praising him when he did.

“He’s the only one who helped me all the time,” Versalles said when he won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, putting the spring training embarrassment behind him. “He inspired me.”

Luis Olmo, a Pioneering Puerto Rican Baseball Player, Dies at 97

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
May 2, 2017

By the 1950s, black Latino players, most notably the future Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, along with Vic Power and Ruben Gomez, all Puerto Rican natives, and Minnie Minoso, a Cuban, had established themselves in the majors.

Olmo, a native of Arecibo, on Puerto Rico’s northern shore, made his Dodgers debut on July 23, 1943, and batted .303 as a rookie.

He was described by Tim Cohane in an October 1943 issue of The Sporting News as “a strongly built youngster who can run like a Western Conference halfback, throw like a DiMaggio and meet the ball solidly and with extra-base power.”

Despite his promise, Olmo did not fare well in a non-negotiation over salary with the Dodgers’ general manager.

“Before the end of the season, I asked Branch Rickey for a raise for the 1944 season,” Olmo recalled in Lou Hernandez’s oral history of 1950s Caribbean baseball, “Memories of Winter Ball” (2013). “Rickey called in his secretary and told her to get me an airplane ticket to go back home. I changed my mind about the raise.”

Olmo, a right-handed batter, drove in 85 runs in 1944, although his average dropped to .258. He batted .313 the next season, drove in 110 runs, had a National League-leading 13 triples, hit 10 homers and stole 15 bases.

The summer of 1945 would be the high point of his major league career.

In spring 1946, Olmo was among some 20 major league players, a number of them Latinos, who signed with the newly formed Mexican League, which was offering salaries far in excess of their major league pay.

The players were barred by Major League Baseball for five years for jumping to an outlaw league, but the suspensions were rescinded after three years.

Olmo returned to the Dodgers in the middle of the 1949 season, hit .305 and homered in their World Series loss to the Yankees.

But with Duke Snider playing center field and Carl Furillo in right, he was expendable. Rickey traded Olmo on Christmas Eve to the Boston Braves. They released him during the 1951 season, and he retired with a .281 career batting average.

Victor D Barnhart, 94

September 1, 1922-April 13, 2017

Herald Mail-Media
April 14, 2017

Victor D Barnhart, 94, of Hagerstown, Md., passed away Thursday, April 13, 2017, at Ravenwood Nursing Care Center, Hagerstown.

Born Sept. 1, 1922, in Hagerstown, he was the son of Clyde Lee and Nora Hope (McKibben) Barnhart, who preceded him in death.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his loving wife of 60 years, Alma Catherine (Nagy) Barnhart; and one son, Dwight D Barnhart.

Mr. Barnhart was a 1941 graduate of Hagerstown High School.

He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II.

Mr. Barnhart was an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1942 to 1944.

After his professional baseball career, he worked and retired from the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, where he was the athletic director.

He was a life member of the NRA and the North American Rod and Gun Club; and a member of the Major League Baseball Retirees Association and the Disabled American Veterans.

Mr. Barnhart is survived by four children, Brian D Barnhart, Cathy D Betker and husband, Paul, of Hagerstown, Keith D Barnhart of Little Orleans, Md., and Kraig D Barnhart and wife, Pamela, of Hagerstown; three grandchildren, Kevin Barnhart and wife, Jamie, of Hagerstown, Eric Betker and wife, Debra, of Clear Spring, Md., and Jason Betker of Hagerstown.

A graveside service will be private and conducted at Rest Haven Cemetery, Hagerstown, at the convenience of the family.

Rest Haven Funeral Home of Hagerstown is assisting the family with the arrangements.

Former Yankee Bob Cerv dies at 91

Leeanna Ellis
April 7, 2017

Bob Cerv, a former outfielder for the New York Yankees and Kansas City A's, died Thursday in Blair. He was 91.

Cerv, who grew up in Weston, moved to Blair to be close to family. He was living at the Carter Place senior living community at the time of his death. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Cerv's grandson, Jacob Lock, read a statement from his aunt, Dawn (Cerv) Ericson, on Friday morning.

“He held my hand for years and tonight I got to hold his as he left. He taught me things no one else did. He was a competitor, a champion and his love and pride for his family was his greatest accomplishment.

“He counted the days with his desk calendar for years. The last time he was able was April 2. Spring was his favorite time of year because baseball season started.

“Dance with mom, give her a hug for me and there will be a game tonight in heaven. Play ball.”

As a boy, Cerv traveled with his father to New York City to see the Yankees play. They watched a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics.

“Lou Gehrig had three home runs," Cerv told the Pilot-Tribune in 2012. "Bob Johnson from the A's hit three home runs, but the Yankees won both games. So I came back home and I said, 'I'm going to be a Yankee some day.'”

Following high school, Cerv entered the U.S. Navy. He served as a radarman on the U.S.S. Claxton (DD-571) in the Pacific during World War II. The Claxton patrolled the Pacific, fighting in battles for the Solomon Islands.

On Nov. 1, 1944, the ship was attacked by a Japanese Kamikaze plane, which struck the water only a few feet from the starboard side alongside gun mount No. 5, where Cerv was assigned.

Cerv was reaching down for a missile when the plane hit.

“Everything was punch-boarded above me,” Cerv said in an interview in January 2017. “Everyone around me was hit. I'm not sure why I wasn't.”

Cerv was discharged from the service in 1946. He returned to Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he played both baseball and basketball, earning eight athletic letters. He was Nebraska baseball's first All-American.

Cerv also met his wife, Phyllis, while he was in school and the two married. The couple raised 10 children.

In 1948, he received his first offer to play professional baseball — $40,000 from the Chicago White Sox. But Phyllis had other ideas.

“My wife said, 'No way. You're going to get your degree and then I'll follow you forever,'” Cerv said.

Cerv received a degree to teach industrial arts.

In 1950, Cerv signed with the Yankees for $5,000. He was assigned to New York's AAA affiliate, the Kansas City Blues, for the first few years. In 1954, he made the big league club. He served as a pinch hitter and played in the 1955 World Series.

In 1956, the Yankees traded Cerv to the Kansas City A's — a story Cerv enjoyed telling.

It was a hot day, late in the 1956 season. Cerv was taking a break from throwing batting practice when manager Casey Stengel told him the Yankees had just acquired Enos Slaughter from the Athletics.

The pair chatted before Cerv got up to finish batting practice.

“As I was leaving he said, 'By the way, one of you guys is going to Kansas City.' I'm the only one. That's how he let me know,” Cerv said.

Cerv had one of his best seasons with Kansas in 1958, despite playing two months with his jaw wired shut following a collision at home plate against the Detroit Tigers.

At the All-Star break, Cerv was batting .324 and was chosen to start the All-Star Game over Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Cerv finished the season hitting .305 with 38 home runs.

That year, Cerv met Yankees star outfielder Roger Maris for the first time when the sluggers were roommates in Kansas City.

Cerv and Maris roomed together again in 1961 when they were both with the Yankees. The teammates were joined by New York's power-hitting outfielder Mickey Mantle.

“He was the fastest man I'd every seen,” Cerv said of Mantle.

Cerv had a front-row seat as Maris and Mantle battled to see who would break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. Maris broke the record on Oct. 1, 1961.

In September 2011, the Yankees honored Maris with a special ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Cerv, with help from his son, joined his former teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bill “Moose” Skowron and Bobby Richardson at Yankee Stadium at the request of Maris' family.

It was the first time Cerv had seen the stadium, which had only opened two years before.

“Beautiful,” he said. “I didn't think I'd ever get there.”

Roy Sievers, Slugging Washington Senator in the ’50s, Dies at 90

By Richard Goldstein
The New York Times
April 4, 2017

Roy Sievers, who won the American League’s first Rookie of the Year Award playing for the 1949 St. Louis Browns and became one of baseball’s leading power hitters of the 1950s with the original Washington Senators, died on Monday at his home in Spanish Lake, Mo. He was 90.

His daughter, Shawn Sievers, confirmed his death.

Playing in the outfield and at first base for 17 major league seasons, Sievers hit 318 home runs. His best season came in 1957, when he had a league-leading 42 homers and 114 runs batted in while hitting .301 for the last-place Senators. The right-handed-batting Sievers also hit home runs in six consecutive games at the Senators’ Griffith Stadium that summer, conquering its cavernous left field in matching an American League record that has since been broken.

Playing for the Senators from 1954 to 1959, Sievers was a favorite of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who was master of ceremonies at a night for him in September 1957.

In 1959, after Nixon’s so-called Kitchen Debate with the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev over the merits of capitalism versus communism at a model kitchen in an American national exhibition in Moscow, Sievers was among those at Nixon’s welcome-home party at a Washington airport.

At the time, the Senators were in the midst of a losing streak, and when he greeted Nixon, Sievers recalled, “The first thing he said was, ‘What in the hell is wrong with the Senators?’

“And I said, ‘Mr. Vice President, we’re just not hitting good, the pitching’s not good.’ He said, ‘I’ll be out the next night.’ Usually, when he came out we’d win the ballgame. But we lost.”

The Senators went on to drop 18 straight games.

Beyond the ballpark, Sievers was part of the Singing Senators, organized by the team’s broadcaster Bob Wolff. One day in June 1958, Wolff, playing the ukulele, appeared on the Washington Mall with Sievers, his fellow outfielders Jim Lemon and Albie Pearson and a couple of Senators pitchers and joined them in song for the NBC-TV “Today” program, hosted by Dave Garroway.

Sievers had his salary battles with the Senators’ owner, Calvin Griffith, but “it was a great life,” he told Larry Moffi in the oral history “This Side of Cooperstown.”

“I met Khrushchev when he came over here,” Sievers recalled. “I had lunch with four presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Eisenhower.”

Roy Edward Sievers was born on Nov. 18, 1926, in St. Louis. He was signed by the Browns out of high school and made his debut with them after military service and two years in the minors.

Sievers hit 16 home runs, drove in 91 runs and batted .306 to win the inaugural A.L. Rookie of the Year Award with a last-place Browns team; Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe won National League honors.

But Sievers was later hampered by a shoulder injury, and when the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, they traded him to the Senators.

He was a three-time All-Star with Washington and followed up his 1957 slugging by hitting 39 homers and driving in 108 runs the following season.

But the Senators traded him to the Chicago White Sox in 1960. He had two productive seasons for them, gaining All-Star honors again, then played for the Philadelphia Phillies. They sold him during the 1964 season to the second Senators franchise, created when the original Senators became the Minnesota Twins, and he closed out his career in Washington.

In addition to his 318 home runs, Sievers drove in 1,147 runs and had a career batting average of .267.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Rob; a brother, William; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Joan, died in 2006, and another son, David, died in 1999.

After his playing days, Sievers coached for the Cincinnati Reds, managed in the minor leagues and was a salesman for a freight company.

He also had a brief movie career.

Sievers can be glimpsed in the 1958 Warner Brothers motion picture “Damn Yankees,” an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name and the Douglass Wallop novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” — the story of how a middle-aged Senators fan with a humdrum life sells his soul to the devil to become a sensational home run hitter, leading Washington to a pennant over the hated Yankees.

Tab Hunter, who played the fantasy slugger Joe Hardy in the movie, wore Sievers’s No. 2 jersey, and Sievers was Hunter’s double in distance shots.

Because Hunter took his close-up cuts from the left side of the plate, Sievers is shown as a left-handed batter, thanks to mirror-image technology.

And so, Walter Johnson and a young Harmon Killebrew aside, Roy Sievers, at least for a few moments on the screen, could be called the greatest Senator of them all.

Jack Faszholz

Derrick Goold
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 5, 2017

A longtime minor-league pitcher with the Cardinals who earned his nickname, “Preacher,” for the seminary classes he took in the offseason, John Edward “Jack” Faszholz died March 25. He was 89. A native of St. Louis, where he was born in April 1927, Faszholz appeared in four games and started one for the 1953 Cardinals. He had a 6.94 ERA and did not get a decision in 11 2/3 innings, but in the minors there were few who pitched as well for as long. In 12 seasons, Faszholz went 128-100 with a 3.63 ERA, and he was inducted into Class AAA Rochester’s Hall of Fame with a Red Wings record 80 career wins.

Faszholz attended classes at Concordia Seminary, and after he retired from baseball he became a Lutheran minister, teacher and coach. He worked at several Lutheran high schools in the area.

“I sort of had a philosophy to work as hard as you can and realize any success you might have is by the grace of God,” he said, per his SABR biography.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, April 27, at Salem Lutheran Church, 8343 Gravois Road in Affton. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in memory of Jack Faszholz to the Lutheran High School Association of St. Louis or Concordia University.