2008: Remembering Those Who Left Us

January 1st is a time to begin anew, to make plans to change our bad habits and come up with better ones. Yet, I also find myself thinking about the past, specifically about those who left us over the recently concluded year. Baseball lost a number of terrific personalities and contributors, and while the game remains great, their departures leave us a little bit emptier. In tribute to them, here’s a glance at a few of those good souls we lost:

 

Dock Ellis… An underrated pitcher and two-time World Champion, he gave the game many breaths of color and life before dedicating his efforts to fighting drug abuse…

Dave Smith… Though forgotten in retirement, he was one of the game’s most quietly consistent closers of the 1980s…

Sal Yvars… Though mostly a backup catcher, he played a major role in the New York Giants’ intricate sign-stealing system of 1941…

Red Murff… He was the scout that discovered Nolan Ryan for the Mets, who enjoyed at least few of The Express’ benefits before giving him away to the Angels…

Herb Score… If not for an errant line drive in 1957, he might have gained as much longevity as a pitcher as he eventually did as a broadcaster…

Preacher Roe… He didn’t overpower hitters with strikeouts or fastballs, but still managed to collect outs for the Dodgers, doing so with equal efficiency as a starter and reliever…

Tom Tresh… For one year, he was the 1960s equivalent of Derek Jeter, but found most of his playing time in a Yankee outfield that was searching for successors to a departed Maris and a fading Mantle…

Bruce Dal Canton… He was the “other” knuckleballer on those Braves staffs of the 1970s, before forging a legacy as one of the game’s great minor league instructors…

Eddie Brinkman… Along with Tiger teammates Norm Cash, Dick McAuliffe, and Aurelio Rodriguez, he helped form one of the best defensive infields of the early 1970s…

Mickey Vernon… The consummate gentleman, he proved that nice guys could also succeed as great players…

Don Gutteridge… The oldest living former manager at the time of his death, he had the misfortune of managing the White Sox at one of the low points in franchise history …

Skip Caray… He brought humor and sarcasm to the broadcast booth, making the Braves bearable (and even entertaining) during the Rafael Ramirez years…

Jerome Holtzman… He did much more than invent the save rule, bringing a sense of history and style to baseball writing in the Windy City…

Red Foley… Simply put, this New York sportswriter set the standard by which all official scorers should be measured…

Bobby Murcer… A personal favorite, he brought joy to two different generations of Yankee fans, first as an All-Star player, second as an affable broadcaster, and always as a gentleman… 

Steve Mingori… He was so brilliant at playing the role of lefty bullpen specialist that one wonders how he might have fared if given the closer’s role in Kansas City…

Jules Tygiel… He proved that academics could also be great baseball writers, all the while educating thousands about the historic roles of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey…

Bob Howsam… He belongs in Cooperstown, which would be a fitting tribute to his legacy as the underrated architect of the “Big Red Machine.”…

Johnny Podres… Brooklyn Dodgers fans will always revere him for his two-hit shutout in Game Seven of the 1955 World Series, while pitchers of later generations will thank him for his wisdom as a pitching coach…

Walt Masterson… A close friend of Ted Williams, he made two All-Star teams and scores of friends during a long life in baseball… 

1 Comment

May they all rest in peace in that great Sports Heaven in the sky.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

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