In Memoriam 2021 (Part 4)


Part 1| Part 2 | Part 3

Mike Sadek, 74 (d. Jan. 20): Mike Sadek spent 8 seasons as a backup catcher for the Giants, from 1973 to 1981. He saw his most action in 1980, when he hit .252 with a home run in 64 games. He joined the Giants front office as a part of the team’s public relations department and stayed there until his retirement in 1999. He was also the body double for Robert DeNiro in the movie The Fan.

Ron Samford, 90 (d. Jan. 14): Ron Samford played for the New York Giants in 1954 and the Tigers in ’55, but he didn’t get a major-league hit until Detroit gave him extended playing time in 1957. The middle infielder hit the only 5 home runs of his career for the Washington Senators in 1959.

Richie Scheinblum, 78 (d. May 10): Richie Scheinblum was an All-Star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals in 1972, when he batted .300 with 60 runs scored and 66 RBIs, as well as 8 of his 13 career homers. It was one of the relatively few seasons where the well-traveled player stayed on one team for a whole season. He played for Cleveland, the Senators, Royals, Reds, Angels and Cardinals in an 8-year career that ended in 1974. He had a career .263 batting average and an endless array of one-liners and stories — like the time he barely survived winter ball in Nicaragua.

Chuck Schilling, 83 (d. March 30): Chuck Schilling spent 1961 to 1965 as a second baseman for the Boston Red Sox. He batted .259 in his rookie season and had a .340 on-base percentage, with 87 runs scored. He finished third in the 1961 Rookie of the Year Award voting and also picked up a few MVP votes. For his career, he hit .239 and had a .985 fielding percentage at second base. Schilling became a math teacher in New York until his retirement.

Gary Schoen, 74 (D. May 5): On September 14, 1968, 21-year-old Gerry Schoen started his one and only game as a major-league pitcher, for the Washington Senators against the New York Yankees. He got through the first two innings unscathed and allowed a run in the third on a double play hit by pitcher Al Downing. Roy White hit a 2-run homer off Schoen in the fourth inning, and he was removed with two outs in the inning after back-to-back singles by Bill Robinson and Andy Kosco. He was tagged with the loss in the 4-1 game, having allowed 3 runs in 3-2/3 innings. Schoen’s playing career ended in 1971. He worked in the beverage industry for many years and was survived by his wife Suzanne and two sons.

Norm Sherry, 89 (d. March 8): Catcher Norm Sherry and his brother, pitcher Larry Sherry, formed a brotherly battery when they both played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 1960s. Norm Sherry hit .215 over his 5-year career with the Dodgers and Mets. Following his retirement as a player, he was an in-demand pitching coach and a manager for the California Angels in 1976 and ’77. He was a valuable mentor to many great players, including Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Gary Carter.

Dwight Siebler, 83 (d. June 16): Dwight Siebler appeared as a pitcher in 46 games for the Minnesota Twins between 1963 and 1967. His busiest year in the majors came in 1966, when he got into 23 games and had a 2-2 record and a save with a 3.44 ERA. As a college pitcher, Siebler threw the first no-hitter in University of Nebraska history — he lost the game 1-0 on his own throwing error.

Tom Simpson, 93 (d. Feb. 7) Pitcher Tom “Duke” Simpson appeared in 30 games with the 1953 Chicago Cubs, including 1 as a starting pitcher. He had a 1-2 record with an 8.00 ERA. After his baseball career ended, Simpson worked for Schlitz Brewing before buying his own beer distributorship in California. After retiring, he traveled extensively with his late wife, Gloria, before he was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dick Smith, 94 (d. Jan. 25): Dick Smith played third base, shortstop and second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1951 to 1955. While he was a .294 hitter in the minor leagues, he was never given much a chance to play with the Bucs, appearing in 70 games and hitting .134. Smith later spent 25 years as an assistant processor and assistant baseball coach for Penn State.

Jack Smith, 85 (d. April 7): Pitcher Jack Smith had brief appearances with the Dodgers in 1962 and ’63. He moved to the Milwaukee Braves in 1964 via the Rule V Draft and had a 2-2 record and 3.77 ERA in 22 games. He never pitched in the majors again, and he soon traded in his baseball equipment for barber tools. He operated “Smitty’s Bullpen” barber shop in Atlanta until he retired in 2016.

Jim Snyder, 88 (d. March 9): Jim Snyder played second base for the Minnesota Twins between 1961 and 1964, getting 11 hits in 41 games for a .140 batting average. That was just the start of a long career in baseball, though. He managed in the minors before joining the Cubs front office, and he played a big part in the 1984 division-winning Cubs team. He also stepped back on the field as a manager for the Seattle Mariners in 1988-89. All totaled, Snyder spent 60 years in baseball before retiring.

Rennie Stennett, 72 (d. May 18): Renaldo “Rennie” Stennett served as a middle infielder and outfielder for the Pirates from 1971-79 before finishing his career with 2 seasons with the Giants. He was a part of two World Champion Pirates teams in 1971 and 1979. A great second baseman, he eventually played his way into the starting lineup after a couple seasons as a utility player and became a steady hitter. He is the only player in the 20th Century to have a perfect 7-for-7 day at the plate, as part of a 22-0 shellacking of the Cubs on September 16, 1975. A leg injury curtailed his effectiveness, and he retired at the age of 32 with a .274 batting average, 500 runs scored and 41 triples and home runs each.

Bill Sudakis, 75 (d. Sept. 15): Bill Sudakis debuted with the Dodgers in 1968 as a third baseman and became part of the “Mod Squad,” a group of young, hip players who were going to rescue L.A. from the doldrums. It didn’t quite happen that way, but Sudakis had a couple good seasons with the Dodgers. He had 14 home runs in 1969 and ’70 and batted .264 in 1970, too. Sudakis also played for the Mets, Rangers, Yankees, Angels and Cleveland in a career that ended in 1975.

Don Sutton, 75 (d. Jan. 18) Don Sutton won 324 games in a 23-year career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998. An iron man pitcher who never went on the disabled list in the regular season, Sutton was a 4-time All-Star and topped 15 wins in a season 12 times. He won an ERA title in 1980 with the Dodgers, when he had a 13-5 record and 2.20 ERA in 32 games. He didn’t log fewer than 200 innings in a full season until 1985, when the 40-year-old Sutton fell 5-2/3 innings shy of the mark as a starter with the A’s. Sutton pitched for the Dodgers, Angels, Brewers, Astros and A’s, and he later became a long-time color commentator on Atlanta Braves broadcasts.

Tim Talton, 82 (July 22): Marion “Tim” Talton was a catcher/first baseman for the Kansas City Athletics in 1966 and ’67. He was a revelation in his rookie season, as he hit .340 with a couple of home runs in 37 games,. He had a .400 average as a pinch-hitter. He was a little less effective in 1967 and ended his major-league career with a .295 batting average in 83 games.

Randy Tate, 68 (d. March 25): Randy Tate was added to the Mets starting rotation in 1975 by manager Yogi Berra. He became a hard-luck pitcher, winning 5 and losing 13 in his only big-league season. In his best game, he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Expos with 13 strikeouts… and lost 4-3 when he gave up a 3-run homer to Mike Jorgensen.

Wayne Terwilliger, 95 (d. Feb. 3): Wayne “Twig” Terwilliger almost never reached the major leagues, as he was a part of the Saipan invasion force during World War II and ended up way too close for comfort with a Japanese tank. Terwilliger played for 9 seasons in the majors as a second baseman with the Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, Senators, New York Giants and Kansas City Athletics. He hit 10 homers for the Cubs in 1950, his sophomore season, and batted .242. He hit .267 in 1959 in a reserve role with the A’s. Terwilliger stayed active in baseball into his 80s, working as a manager in the minors and a coach in the majors. He was a coach on the 1987 World Champion Twins team and managed the San Angelo Colts to the 2005 Central League championship. He finally retired from the field in 2010, when he realized his reflexes weren’t what they should be for a first base coach.

Tim Thompson, 97 (d. Oct. 25) Tim Thompson caught for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954, the Kansas City Athletics in 1956-57 and the Tigers in 1958. He played in a total of 107 games and had a .238 career batting average. After his playing career ended, Thompson worked as a scout, finding the likes of Tommy Herr, John Mabry and Ricky Horton for the Cardinals.

Dick Tidrow, 74 (d. July 10): Dick “Dirt” Tidrow had excellent seasons as both a starter and reliever in his 13-year career, from 1972 to 1984. He won 14 games twice for Cleveland, became a shut-down reliever for the Yankees and led the NL in appearances while pitching for the Cubs in 1980. He also played for the White Sox and Mets. Tidrow had a lifetime 100-94 record and 55 saves in 620 MLB games, with a 3.68 ERA and 975 strikeouts. He spent nearly 30 years with the San Francisco Giants organization in a variety of roles, and his knack for evaluating pitchers led the team to draft Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.

Tim Tolman, 65 (d. June 3): Tim Tolman played for the Astros from 1981-86 and the Tigers in 1987. He was a corner outfielder and first baseman. He never spent a full season in the majors, though. In 1983, he appeared in a career-best 43 games and hit .196 with 2 pinch-hit home runs. He retired with a .168 batting average over 132 games. Tolman was a minor-league manager for several years and also served as a bench coach before a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease caused him to leave his on-field role. He remained a part of the Cleveland organization through 2020 as a scout and talent evaluator.

Vito Valentinetti, 92 (d. Aug. 5): Vito Valentinetti pitched for the Tigers, Cubs, Cleveland and Senators in a 5-year career between 1954 and 1959. He appeared in 108 games and made 15 starts, mostly with Washington in 1958. He had a lifetime 13-14 record and 4.73 ERA. A high school teammate of Whitey Ford, Valentinetti worked for the New York State Supreme Court for 30 years and also threw batting practice for the Mets and Yankees.

Coot Veal, 88 (d. March 14): Orville “Coot” Veal was a shortstop for the Tigers, Senators and Pirates between 1958 and 1963. A slick-fielding shortstop, he batted .256 in his rookie season and became a favorite of broadcaster Mel Ott, who called his grounders “Veal chops.” He hit his only career home run off Chicago’s Billy Pierce in 1959. After several seasons as a backup, Veal retired with a .231 batting average in 247 big-league games.

Bill Virdon, 90 (d. Nov. 23): Bill Virdon won the 1955 NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1955 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .281 with 17 homers and 68 RBIs and played excellent defense in center field. He was traded to the Pirates in 1956 and spent the rest of his playing career there as a steady hitter and elite fielder. He was an unsung hero of the 1960 World Champ Pirates team. Virdon retired in 1968 to move toward a managing career, and he managed the Pirates, Yankees, Astros and Expos. Virdon won the Manager of the Year Award twice, once in each league, and he remained active in baseball as a coach and spring training instructor into his 80s.

Ted Weiand, 88 (d. July 7): Ted Weiand pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 1958 and 1960. He appeared in a total of 6 games and was 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA. He was a part of the 1961 Yankees for a few weeks. Though he never actually got into a game, Weiand said his career highlight was hanging around the likes of Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and watching games from inside Yankee Stadium.

Joyce Hill Westerman, 95 (d. Jan. 18). Joyce Hill played in the AAGPBL from 1945 to 1949 with the Grand Rapids Chicks, Fort Wayne Daisies, South Bend Blue Sox, Peoria Redwings and Racine Belles. She was a catcher at first, because the league needed catchers, but she had one of her best seasons as an outfielder in 1950. Playing for Peoria, she hit .254 with 19 RBIs and 26 runs scored. She later became a first baseman for South Bend and won the AAGPBL championship with the team in 1952. She hit .277 in the regular season and had several clutch hits in the playoffs.

Stan Williams, 84 (d. Sept. 14): Stan Williams had a 14-year career as a pitcher. He started with the Dodgers in 1958 and made the All-Star Team in 1960, when he won 14 games with a 3.00 ERA. Williams also pitched for the Yankees, Cleveland, Twins, Cardinals and Red Sox. He became a reliever in his 30s and reached double-digit save totals in 1969 with Cleveland and 1970 with Minnesota. He later worked as a pitching coach and scout into the 2000s. Williams won world championships with the Dodgers in 1959 as a pitcher and the Reds in 1990 as a pitching coach.

Duane Wilson, 87 (d. Nov. 9): Duane Wilson made two starts for the Boston Red Sox in 1958. He had a pair of no-decisions, giving up 4 earned runs in 6-1/3 innings, with 3 strikeouts. He retired at the age of 25 to find steadier work in his hometown of Wichita and support his family. Wilson ended up as the vice president of the United American State Bank of Wichita.

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