Entries Tagged as 'Deaths'

RIP Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner Former MLB manager Chuck Tanner died yesterday after a long illness at the age of 82. 

Tanner ranks 27th all-time among managers in wins with 1352.  Unfortunately, he has 1381 losses just barely giving him a losing record for his career.  Of course, his crowning jewel was his World Series victory in 1979 with the Pirates. 

He was described as “upbeat” by the media and that was collaborated by my friend, Todd the Ump, who is a die-hard Pirates fan.

When I got home my son was watching the Pens post game show and they started showing clips of the 1979 Pirates and Chuck Tanner.  My son said, "Oh yeah, he died."  I didn’t believe it.  Chuck Tanner is not supposed to die.  He is the eternal optimist who said "You must never ever ever ever quit."  Other than the normal happiest days of my life (i.e. kids being born, day I got married – yes I actually do love my wife) the day I met Chuck Tanner and had my picture taken with him at PNC ranks right up there. 

You couldn’t help but like Chuck Tanner.  He never said a bad word about any player and you never heard a player say a bad word about him.  Looking back it’s hard to believe that when he skippered the Buccos to the ’79 Championship that he was only a few years older than I am now.  Yet when I met him a few years back he didn’t seem to be any older than he was in 1979.

I hope the Pirates do the right thing and retire his number 7 this coming season.  After all, he quite possibly will be the last man to lead them to a World Series title.

I don’t think anyone could have said it better.

Ron Santo passes away

cubs conv sat 053 My friend Tyler called me Friday afternoon with the sad news that Cubs broadcaster and former third baseman Ron Santo had died.  It had been such a busy day, I hadn’t heard the news reports. 

Tyler lamented, “I wonder now will they induct him in the Hall?”

I don’t think he was insinuating that players should be inducted on the basis of sympathy (although no doubt, others may feel that way).  However, it would be a sad irony if he did get his invite to the Hall posthumously. Mr Santo made no secret (though he did it with such humbleness) that he wished to get to Cooperstown. 

I’ll be honest… Santo was not my favorite broadcaster behind the mike.  I don’t think I’m alone in that.  He was entering an modern era that was not his.  That said, as a representative of the Cubs, a liaison to the public, a go-between from baseball to Joe and Jane Public, there was no one better.  He was as real as it gets in this media-phony world of broadcasting.  His love for the Cubs was atypically genuine.  For that, I will miss him. 

RIP Sparky Anderson

As most of you know, Sparky Anderson died last week at the age of 76.  No doubt, he was one of one of best managers of the 70s and 80s.  As a Cub fan, I didn’t relish the days they had to play the Big Red Machine.  The amazing part was when he left the Reds, he wasn’t done.  He guided the Tigers to two first place finishes and a World Championship.

Tiger Tales has a good collection of links to articles about Anderson.  And Sports Illustrated has a real nice photo gallery (via StumbleUpon) that spans the life of Sparky including a photo of him in a Phillie uniform back in 1959. 

New patches will be worn in memory of Yankee legends

gmspatch sheppardpatch

In light of the recent deaths of Yankee legends Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner, the New York ballclub’s graphic designers have been busy coming up with a patch that will adorn the uniforms of the Yankee players. 

Both are stark black and white to match the Yankee uniforms.  The Steinbrenner patch includes his full name plus his initials “GMS”.  At the bottom, it says The Boss”.  Nice touch.

Sheppard’s patch is a nicely done graphic of an old time PA mike within a baseball diamond and simply says, “Bob Sheppard The Voice of Yankee Stadium”.

The GMS patch will be worn above the NY on the left breast on the home jerseys and above the YORK on away jerseys. 

You’ll find the Sheppard patch on the Yankees’ left sleeves.

Steinbrenner changed baseball (for better or worse)

Truly a rough week for the Yankee faithful.  In the last three days, two iconic figures who represented the Bronx Bombers in two very different ways, passed away

On Sunday, PA announcer Bob Sheppard passed on at the ripe age of 99.  His time with the Yankees goes back to the days of DiMaggio and Mantle.  His voice was long lived.  It could be heard as late as 2007. 

Then today the Boss was finally dragged kicking and screaming from this dimension into the next life.  George Steinbrenner, the shipbuilder turned baseball team owner who swore he would not get involved in his team’s business died at the age of 80.

Steinbrenner was controversial, aggressive, intrusive and yes, sometimes mean.  But he won, too.  Under his ownership, the Yankees won eleven championships and seven World Series. 

A friend posed this question to a few of us over email:  “Which had more effect on player salaries,  George Steinbrenner or Curt Flood’s free agency case?”

Truly an academic question which has no real answer.  But it does give one pause to think.  Other owners were skeptical of free agency, not wanting to shell out the big bucks for players.  Meanwhile, Steinbrenner, who inherited a sub-par Yankee team in the early 70s, wasn’t afraid to adapt his business model to include the concept of Flood’s idea of free agency.  With the acquisition of Catfish Hunter and so many others, Steinbrenner changed the way, for better or for worse, how baseball owners approach acquiring on-the-field personnel. 

The results,in Steinbrenner’s case, speak for themselves.

Astros fan goes to a better place

This story is a bit of a tear-jerker.  Sister Damian Kuhn, a Catholic nun as well as a devout Astros fans, passed away at the age of 89

She certainly did have a sense of humor:

“She was our No. 1 fan, and she always took it personal,” recalled (Astros owner Drayton) McLane. He told her it was time to start praying.

After a long sigh, she replied, “Drayton, my knees are bloodied. It’s going to take more than that!”

Angels make a class move, vote Adenhart a playoff share

nickadenhart A nice touch by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players. 

The team, who made the playoffs this year, voted deceased pitcher Nick Adenhart a full share of the playoff winnings according to the LA Times Blog.  That comes out to roughly $138,000.  The cash goes to Adenhart’s family, of course. 

Nick Adenhart gave all he had for the Angels.  Unfortunately, it for just one game when he pitched six scoreless innings in his MLB debut in April.  That night, he was killed in an accident by a drunk driver. 

Geremi Gonzalez’ body to be exhumed

A very odd story is coming out of Venezuela in which former MLB pitcher Geremi Gonzalez’ body will be exhumed as part of an investigation.  Prosecutors are trying to determine if he was struck by lightning as originally thought or if he was a victim of a fatal robbery.

Authorities determined that Gonzalez, 33, died instantly when he was hit by lightning at a beach in May 2008. Investigators ruled out homicide after an autopsy blamed "an electric shock produced by natural causes."

Doubts surfaced, however, after a friend notified the family that some of Gonzalez’s belongings were being offered for sale, including a gold chain he was wearing when he died, federal police commissioner Cesar Gomez told Diario Panorama.

Nice detective work by the family friend. 

Gonzalez debuted with the Cubs in 1997 with a 11-9 record.  He came in ninth in the Rookie of the Year voting that year.  For his career, he was 30-35 with a 4.93 ERA. 

Halos Hurler Adenhart Killed in Crash

nickadenhart_1_400 Hours after holding the A’s scoreless for six innings, 22 year old righthander Nick Adenhart was killed in a car crash. The accident occurred shortly after midnight at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street in Fullerton, said Lt. Craig Brower of the Fullerton Police Department. Several witnesses told police the driver of a red minivan ran a red light at the intersection, hitting a silver Mitsubishi carrying four passengers. Two people in the Mitsubishi were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, authorities said. Two others also in the Mitsubishi were taken to a nearby hospital, where one was later pronounced dead, Brower said. The driver of the minivan fled on foot, but police found him about a mile away and took him into custody on suspicion of hit-and-run, Brower said. Further charges are pending as the investigation continues, he said.

This is a tragedy beyond baseball, it puts things into perspective, what’s really important in life, how very precious life is, and how it can end at any time. Please take the time to enjoy your life, reach out & touch those you love, and remember Nick Adenhart.

I still remember, forever young, 27 year old righthander, Paul Edmondson, a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, who died in a Santa Barbarba car accident February 13, 1970 (one day after his birthday) on a rain soaked highway 101.

RIP (and thanks) Jerome Sacharski, T-ball pioneer


Jerome Sacharski, a former teacher who is credited with popularizing the game of T-ball, died Friday at the ripe age of 93. 

No one knows who actually exactly invented the game of T-ball.  But many credit Sacharski for popularizing it in his hometown of Albion, Wisconsin where he was teacher and coach.  It is said that here in Albion is where it was first played as an organized sport.

US Rep. Nick Smith even offered a tribute to Jerome Sacharski for his contributions:

“After he started teaching, Jerry took it upon himself in 1954 to head up the Albion recreation department’s summer baseball program,” Smith said at the time. “Because of this position, he was able to see the lack of opportunity for younger children that two years later would drive him to develop one of the largest innovations in youth sports.”

T-ball is similar in so many ways to baseball yet made simpler for younger kids by giving them a fighting chance to hit the ball by hitting a ball off a tee rather than a thrown ball.  Today, millions of boys and girls play the game which emphasizes fairness and education of the game over competition. 

So for all the parents (and for that matter, kids who have grown up) out there going back all those years, I say thanks Mr Sacharski.  That tee made it sooo much easier to hit.