Remembering Baseball Figures Who Died in 2010
This year we lost more than our share of players, managers and owners.
There may be names on this list that you are not familiar with. They all were part of baseball history and each one made a contribution to the game. Please take a moment to learn about them.
Here are the players we said goodbye to for the last time.
Phil Cavarretta, the National League (NL) MVP in 1945 with the Chicago Cubs, has died. Cavarretta, who led the Chicago Cubs to their last World Series appearance, died Saturday. He was 94. Cavaretta, a first baseman and outfielder signed with the Cubs at age 17 and broke into the major leagues in 1934. He spent the first 20 of his 22 seasons with the Cubs before moving across town to play 77 games for the White Sox. The three-time All-Star led the NL with a .355 batting average and a .449 on-base percentage in 1945, when the Cubs lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Cavarretta played in three World Series (1935, ’38 and ’45). He batted .423 with a home run and five RBI in the 1945 Series, which went seven games. Cavarretta finished with a .293 batting average, 95 home runs and 920 RBI in more than 2,000 big league games.
Walt Dropo, one of the University of Connecticut’s greatest athletes, broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red
Sox. He won the American League rookie of the year award in 1950 and became a reliable hitter and first baseman for 13 years, died on Friday December 17th. He was 87 and lived in Peabody, Mass. In 1950, Dropo beat out New York
Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford to win AL Rookie of the Year honors after batting .322 with 34 home runs and a league-best 144 RBI in 136 games. He also made his only All-Star team that year. Shortly after being traded to Detroit in 1952, Dropo tied a major league record that still stands when he got hits in 12 consecutive trips to the plate.
Bob Feller, who just passed away at the age of 92, deserves a spot on any list of baseball’s immortals. Opposing players from Joe DiMaggio to Ted Williams called him the greatest pitcher they had ever seen, and they had seen the best. Feller’s numbers were
Bob Feller - Hall of Fame Pitcher
tremendous, finishing his Cleveland Indian career with 266 victories, 2,581 strikeouts and three no-hitters. His career numbers would have been even more impressive if it were not for his response to the start of the Second World War. He left the Cleveland Indians at the height of his career to enlist in the Navy. Feller once said; “I’m not too much concerned about my baseball career”. “I want to be remembered as a good American citizen”.
Nellie King played in the National League from 1954 through 1957 with the Pittsburgh
Pirates. He finished his career with a 7-5 record and appeared in 95 games, all but four in relief. He was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1946, however he was traded to the Pirates in 1948 in an unknown transaction. He then went on to become a wildly popular announcer for the club before becoming a sports information director for Duquesne University. The 6’6″ right-hander who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, never strayed far from home.
Clyde King was involved with baseball for six decades as a player, coach, manager and executive. As a player, King pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds during a seven-year big-league career. He was also a teammate and very close friend of Jackie Robinson, who credited King with helping and supporting him during his first years in the major leagues.
Gil McDougald played his entire 10-year career with the New York Yankees, during one of their dynasty eras, alongside Hall of Fame teammates Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. With a steady hand and back-to-back All-Star years, Gil McDougald helped lead the New York Yankees to five World Series championships during the 1950s. McDougald was selected AL Rookie of the Year in 1951.
Willie Davis played for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 14 years. He used his speed to cover a lot of ground in center field. Willie Davis earned two World Series titles, three Gold Gloves
and two All-Star selections. He played on teams with baseball legends Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Roseboro. Dodger owner Frank McCourt said of Willie; “He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform”.
Bobby Bragan was dubbed “Mr. Baseball”, as much for his dedication as his longevity in the game. He spent seven seasons as a major league manager in the Braves organization, managing future superstars like Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn. At the age of 87, he became the oldest person to manage a professional baseball game.
Robin Roberts was a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. He led the Phillies
Robin Roberts throwing against the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the 1950 World Series, in Philadelphia.
“Whiz Kids” to the 1950 National League pennant. He won 286 games and put together an amazing six consecutive 20 win seasons. Roberts had 45 career shutouts, 2,357 strikeouts and a lifetime ERA of 3.41. He pitched 305 complete games. Roberts once said of himself; “I had a high fastball and I either overpowered them or they overpowered me”. The Phillies retired his jersey in 1962. He remains the Phillies’ career leader in games pitched, complete games and innings pitched. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
Danny McDevitt was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In his seven major league seasons with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees, the Twins and the Kansas City Athletics; he achieved respect if not fame. However, he is best remembered for a complete game 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh on September 24, 1957, the team’s final home game in Brooklyn.
Ron Santo was one of the greatest and most beloved players in Chicago Cubs history.
Chicago Cubs infielder Ron Santo
During his 15-year career, he was a nine-time All-Star and the emotional center of the team. After retiring, he became the voice of the Cubs on WGN radio, displaying his continuing love for the team with nightly encouragement, celebrations with the victories and obvious agonies with the inevitable defeats. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said of Santo; “Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans”.
Ralph Houk was a third-string catcher for the New York Yankees but achieved fame as a manager, first for the Yankees, then the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox. As the Yankees’ manager, Houk followed the legendary Casey Stengel whose teams won 10 pennants and seven World Series titles. Houks’ teams won three straight American League pennants and two World Series championships. Houk had served during World War II as a tank officer and his steadiness under pressure earned him the nickname “The Major.” Houk managed for 20 seasons and led by consistently boosting confidence and morale among his players, always declining to criticize them in public. Houk was quoted saying “I don’t think you can humiliate a player and expect him to perform.”
Sparky Anderson managed Cincinnati‘s “Big Red Machine” to back-to-back World Series championships and the Detroit Tigers to another. Anderson was the first manager to manage World Series champions in both leagues. Anderson was a humble man. During his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 2000, he said “I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years”. By those he knew well, Anderson was considered gentle, kind and courageous.
Bobby Thomson Giants Outfielder
Bobby Thomson created perhaps the single most remembered play in baseball history. It is referred to as the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World“. The game-ending home run hit by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson off the arch-rival Brooklyn Dodgers Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds at 3:58 p.m. on October 3, 1951 won the National League pennant. When he hit the home run the excited announcer was yelling “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” .
George Steinbrenner, known as “The Boss”. George Steinbrenner was the principal
owner and managing partner of New York Yankees. During Steinbrenner’s 37-year ownership from 1973 to his death in July 2010, the longest in club history, the Yankees earned 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. His outspokenness and role in driving up player salaries made him one of the sport’s most controversial figures. Yogi Berra, the Yankee Hall of Fame catcher who was both a player and manager, said: “He built the Yankees into champions, and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man.”