2022 In Memoriam (Part 3)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Ray Rippelmeyer – As a pitcher, Ray Rippelmeyer had a short stay in the majors. He pitched in 18 games for the 1962 Washington Senators and finished with a 1-2 record and 5.49 ERA. He allowed 7 home runs in 39-1/3 innings. As a pitching coach, he stayed on the Phillies’ staff for most of the 1970s, helping lefty Steve Carlton adjust from a pure fastball hurler to a finesse pitcher. Rippelmeyer died on September 9, two months after his 89th birthday.

Vic Roznovsky – Catcher Vic Roznovsky appeared in 205 big-league games between 1964 and 1969 with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies. He got the most starts of any Cubs catcher in 1965 and hit .221 with 3 homers in 71 games. Roznovsky won a World Series with the Orioles in 1966, too. His career slash line was .218/.273/.281. The 83-year-old Roznovsky died on January 18.

Roger Samuels – Lefty reliever Roger Samuels put together a good late-season run with the San Francisco Giants in 1988, with a 3.47 ERA in 15 appearances. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and pitched in 5 games for them in 1989. His career totals are a 1-2 record and 4.33 ERA. Samuels died of kidney cancer on January 17. He was 61 years old.

John Sanders – John Sanders’ major-league career lasted a matter of minutes. As a member of the 1965 Kansas City Athletics, Sanders entered into an April 13 game against Detroit as a pinch runner. The next two batters flew out, and Sanders never left first base. It was his only game in the majors. He played in the minors until 1968 and got into coaching at the collegiate level. Sanders served as coach of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln baseball team from 1978 to 1997 and won 767 games. He died on February 3 at the age of 76.

Moe Savransky – Morris “Moe” Savransky was a standout pitcher in Cleveland as a teenager and reached the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 1954. In 16 games, Savransky lost twice and had a 4.88 ERA. After an elbow injury ended his playing career, he became a batting practice pitcher with the Cleveland Indians and got into the oil business. Savransky, 93, died on October 13.

Mark Schaeffer – Southpaw pitcher Mark Schaeffer made 41 relief appearances with the San Diego Padres in 1972. He had a 2-0 record and recorded his only major-league save in a 17-inning game against the Reds. He had a 4.61 ERA and fanned 25 batters in 41 innings. He also hit Ron Hunt for the 193rd time of Hunt’s career on July 23, 1972, which gave him the modern-day record for being hit by pitches. Schaeffer, who retired after the 1972 season, died on June 1 at age 73.

Dick Schofield – Dick “Ducky” Schofield spent 19 seasons in the majors, from 1953 to 1971. He had a career .227 batting average while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. He is part of the 3-generation tradition of ballplayers, as son Dick and grandson Jason Werth also reached the major leagues. Schofield died on July 11 at the age of 87.

Ted Schreiber – The New York Mets drafted infielder Ted Schreiber out of the Red Sox organization in the hopes that he could fill their hole at third base. He never got much of a chance to play and hit .160 in 39 games for the 1963 Mets. His footnote in Mets history is that he recorded the final outs at the Polo Grounds, grounding into a game-ending double play in the last game ever held at the park. Schreiber died on September 8 at the age of 84.

Vin Scully – One of the greatest broadcasters in baseball history, Scully called games for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, as well as numerous network ballgames. An incredible amount of baseball history, from Jackie Robinson’s first games in the majors, to Kirk Gibson’s legendary World Series home run off Dennis Eckersley, features Scully’s play-by-play. He received the Ford C. Frick Award, given by the Hall of Fame to honor broadcasting greats, in 1982. He remained in the booth for more than 30 years after that honor, signing off for the final time on October 2, 2016. Scully died at the age of 94 on August 2.

Coston Shockley – Coston Shockley signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960 for a reported $50,000 bonus. After hitting over .300 with 77 minor league home runs, he reached the majors with Philadelphia in 1964. He played in 11 games that year and another 40 with the California Angels in 1965. All total, Shockley slashed .197/.255/.275 with 3 homers. He died on May 30 from cancer and other health ailments. Shockley was 80 years old.

Bill Short – Pitcher Bill Short spent 6 seasons in the majors, with the New York Yankees (1960), Baltimore Orioles (1962, 1966), Boston Red Sox (1966), Pittsburgh Pirates (1967), New York Mets (1968) and Cincinnati Reds (1969). He had a 5-11 record in 73 games, including 16 starts. His ERA was 4.73, and he recorded 71 strikeouts. Short died on February 2, at age 84.

Curt Simmons – The last surviving member of the famed “Whiz Kids” of 1950, Curt Simmons was a 3-time All-Star and won 193 games in the majors. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and California Angels from 1947 to 1967. He won 17 games for the Whiz Kids Phillies and also was an 18-game winner for the 1964 World Series-winning Cardinals. Simmons died at the age of 93 on December 13.

Dwight Smith – With his clutch hitting and fine singing voice, Dwight Smith became a fan favorite when he reached the majors with the Chicago Cubs in 1989. He batted .324 with 9 homers and finished runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting to teammate Jerome Walton. Smith played with the Cubs until 1993 and also spent time with the California Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves. He won a World Series with the Braves in 1995, and he retired with a career .275/.333/.422 slash line. Smith died at age 58 on July 22.

Jerry Snyder – Middle infielder Jerry Snyder spent his entire 7-year career with the Washington Senators, from 1952 to 1958. In 266 games, he batted .230 with 3 home runs and 60 runs scored. Snyder died at the age of 92 on January 31.

Marv Staehle – Second baseman-turned-insurance agent Marv Staehle had stints with the Chicago White Sox, Montreal Expos, and Atlanta Braves between 1964 and 1971. He slashed .207/.295/244 in 185 games, but he batted .400 in 1964 (2-for-5), .429 in 1965 (3-for-7) and .412 in 1969 (7-for-17). His one career home run was the game winner for the Expos over the Phillies on September 25, 1969. After baseball, Staehle was a successful State Farm agent in the northern Chicago suburbs. He died on September 30 at 80 years old.

Joe Staton – Seattle-born Joe Staton played 15 games for the Detroit Tigers between 1972 and ’73. He had 4 hits in 19 at-bats for a career .211 batting average. He returned to Seattle after his playing days and helped encourage African-American children to play baseball. He was part of Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program. Staton, 74, died on June 20 in Mercer Island, Wash.

John Stearns – Nicknamed “Bad Dude,” John Stearns was an All-Star catcher who played all but one game of his 11-year career with the New York Mets. That one game was for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1974, and they traded him to New York in the offseason. Stearns was a 4-time All-Star with the Mets, but the numerous injuries he suffered as a hard-nosed catcher caught up with him, leading to his retirement in 1984. Stearns had a career slash line of .260/.341/.375, with 46 home runs and 312 RBIs. Stearns stayed in uniform as a coach until 2014. He died on September 15 at the age of 71 from cancer, though he made it to one last Old Timers Day with the Mets three weeks before he died.

Bruce Sutter – One of the greatest closers of the 1970s and ’80s, Bruce Sutter saved 300 games for the Chicago Cubs (1976-1980), St. Louis Cardinals (1981-84) and Atlanta Braves (1985-86, 1988). He led the NL in saves five times, thanks to his mastery of the split-fingered fastball. Sutter was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and died on October 13 at the age of 69.

Ralph Terry – World Series MVP Ralph Terry won 107 games in the major leagues, as well as 2 games in the 1962 World Series while pitching for the New York Yankees. The 1962 Series dominance (he was 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 3 starts for the Yankees) was a vindication for Terry, who had surrendered Bill Mazeroski’s famed home run in the 1960 Series. Terry spent 12 years in the majors with the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. He died on March 16 at 86 years old.

Lee Thomas – Lee Thomas had two memorable careers in professional baseball. As an outfielder/first baseman, he was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Angels in 1962 and slashed .255/.327/.397 in 8 seasons with the New York Yankees, Angels, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. As an executive, he helped build winning franchises with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia. He turned a team of cast-offs into the pennant-winning Phillies team of 1993 and won the Sporting News Executive of the Year. Thomas died on August 31. He was 86 years old.

Tom Urbani – Lefty Tom Urbani made 36 starts and 45 relief appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers between 1993 and 1996. He had a 10-17 record and a 4.98 ERA, with 149 strikeouts in 260-1/3 innings. Urbani also enjoyed some success as a pitcher in Italy before returning to the United States and becoming a youth coach. Urbani died at the age of 54 on September 28.

Julio Valdez – Infielder Julio Valdez played in parts of four seasons with the Boston Red Sox from 1980-83. He hit .207 in 65 games and managed in the Dominican Republic through 2018. He died from cancer on July 24 at the age of 66.

Fred Valentine – Outfielder Fred Valentine reached the majors in 1959 with the Baltimore Orioles, and he played for the Orioles and Washington Senators through 1968. In 1966, he hit .276 with the Senators with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. In 7 seasons, he batted .247 with 56 doubles and 36 home runs. Valentine died on December 26 at age 87.

Anthony Varvaro – From 2010 to 2015, reliever Anthony Varvaro made 166 relief appearances with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox. In 2013 and 2014, he pitched in 123 games for the Braves with a 2.74 ERA and was one of the team’s most effective relievers. After undergoing elbow surgery, Varvaro retired from baseball and graduated from the New York Port Authority Police Academy in 2016. On September 11, Varvaro was driving to a memorial event honoring the victime of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and his car was struck by a vehicle driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike. Varvaro, 37, was killed in the accident.

Kathryn Vonderau – Katie Vonderau played 8 years as a catcher in the AAGPBL for the Fort Wayne Daisies, Muskegon Lassies, Chicago Colleens, Peoria Redwings and Muskegon Belles. After her career ended, Dr. Kathryn Vondreau earned multiple degrees and taught and coached at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for more than 20 years. She died on August 10 at the age of 94.

Gale Wade – Gale Wade played in 18 games as a center fielder and pinch-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 1955 and 1956. He had 6 hits, including a double and home run, for a .133/.220/.222 slash line. He also had a lifetime .280 batting average in 15 seasons in the minors with approximately 344 stolen bases. Wade died on January 16 at 92 years old.

Pete Ward – Canadian Pete Ward played for the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees from 1962 to 1970. He hit 23 home runs for the White Sox in 1963 to go with a .282 batting average. Lifetime, Ward hit .254 with 98 homers and 427 RBIs. Ward managed in the minors and coached for the Atlanta Braves before moving back to his home in Portland, Ore. Ward died at the age of 84 on March 16, from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Stefan Wever – Pitcher Stefan Wever was born in Marburg, Germany, but grew up in San Francisco. He was drafted by the New York Yankees and made his only career appearance on September 17, 1982. He started the game against the Milwaukee Brewers and tore his rotator cuff, so he only lasted 2-2/3 innings and gave up 8 runs for the loss. He later operated a popular bar in San Francisco. Wever died on December 27 at the age of 64.

David West – Southpaw David West pitched in 204 games for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox from 1988 to 1998. In his best season, he pitched in 76 games for the 1993 pennant-winning Phillies and had a 6-4 record and 3 saves, with a 2.92 ERA. He won 31 games with a 4.66 ERA in his 10-year career. West died from brain cancer on May 14, at the age of 57.

Dave Wickersham – Dave Wickersham won 19 games for the Detroit Tigers in 1964 but was ejected in his one chance to pick up his 20th win for touching an umpire, trying to get his attention. Wickersham pitched for the Kansas City Athletics, Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals in 10 seasons from 1960 to 1969 and won 68 games overall, with a 3.66 ERA. Wickersham, 86, died on June 18.

Gerald Williams – Gerald Williams had a 14-year career as a pinch-hitter and outfielder for the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins and New York Mets. Widely respected by pretty much everyone who played with him, he saw that then-rookie shortstop Derek Jeter was being bullied by a veteran shortstop and quickly put an end to it. Williams had a .255/.301/410 slash line with 85 home runs and 106 stolen bases in his career. He died on February 8 at age 55.

Maury Wills – Speedster Maury Wills helped bring the stolen base back to Major League Baseball after it had fallen out of favor. He led the National League in stolen bases every year from 1961 to 1965, including a record-setting 104 steals in 1962. That accomplishment earned him the MVP Award that year. Wills was also a 7-time All-Star and 2-time Gold Glove shortstop during his 14-year career for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Montreal Expos. Wills stole 586 bases in his career and had 2,134 hits for a .281 batting average. He died on September 19 at the age of 89.

Gordon Windhorn – Gordon “Gordie” Windhorn played for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Athletics and Los Angeles Angels between 1959 and 1962. He also had a good career in Japan with the Hankyu Braves. He batted .176 in 95 games in the major leagues and .255 with 86 homers in Japan. Windhorn died on May 21 at the age of 88.

John Wockenfuss – Using one of the most unorthodox batting stances in baseball, John Wockenfuss played for 12 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. In his one season as a full-time starter in 1980, he batted .274 with 16 home runs while playing first base, catcher, corner outfield and designated hitter. All total, the versatile Wockenfuss hit .262 with 86 home runs. He went public with his struggles with dementia in 2019, and he attributed it to the head injuries he suffered as a catcher. Wockenfuss died on August 19 at the age of 73.

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