Obituaries: Feb. 18

John Bemben, a pitcher who played in one minor league season, died Oct. 27, 2010, in Hampden, Mass. He was 96.

Bemben’s only pro experience came in 1939 with Cambridge (Eastern Shore), where he went 1-2 in seven appearances.

Dick Bonne, a lefthander who pitched three seasons in the minor leagues, died Nov. 4, 2010, in Rockford, Ill. He was 90.

Bonne made his pro debut in 1941 with Jonesboro (Northeast Arkansas) in 1941, going 2-4, 4.22 in 49 innings. He won 10 games for Lockport (PONY) in 1942 but entered the military after that season. While in the service, Bonne reportedly threw a no-hitter against the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers in July 1943 when he pitched for a military team. He returned to pro ball for one more season in 1946, going 10-11, 4.71 in 151 innings for Waterloo (Three-I).

Otey Clark, a righthander who had a brief major league career with the Red Sox, died Oct. 20, 2010, in Boscobel, Wis. He was 95.

Clark opened his pro career in 1940 and pitched five seasons in the minor leagues before getting his first look at the majors in 1945 at age 29. He made the Red Sox’s Opening Day roster in ’45 but made just one appearance before being sent down. He returned to the big leagues that August and got into 11 more games, including nine starts, finishing with a 4-4, 3.07 mark in 82 innings. Though that would be his only major league experience, he went on to pitch five more seasons in the American Association, posting double-digit win totals in three of them.

Duane Crawford, a first baseman who played three seasons in the minors, died July 7, 2010, in Aptos, Calif. He was 90.

Crawford hit .340 in his pro debut with Salem (Western International) in 1946. He spent most of the 1947 season with Denver (Western), also having a short stint with Portland (Pacific Coast), before taking a year off from the sport in 1948. He returned for one more season in 1949, batting .251 in 81 games for Ventura (California).

Walt Dropo, a first baseman who was the 1950 American League rookie of the year, died Dec. 17, 2010, in Peabody, Mass. He was 87.

A multitalented athlete in his younger days, Dropo was taken by the Chicago Bears in the ninth round of the 1946 NFL draft out of Connecticut, but he chose to play pro baseball instead. Dropo made his big league debut with the Red Sox in 1949 after jus two seasons in the minors, though he appeared in just 11 games. Dropo is best remembered for his 1950 season, when he belted 34 home runs, ranking second in the AL, while batting .322. He also led the league in RBIs with 144 and beat out Whitey Ford for the league’s rookie of the year award.

Unfortunately, Dropo was never able to replicate that success in subsequent years. He managed to hit 29 homers in 1952, a season during which he was traded from the Red Sox to the Tigers, but that was the only other season in which he surpassed the 20-homer plateau. He went on to play for the White Sox, Reds and Orioles over a career that lasted 13 seasons, ending with a .270 lifetime average and 152 home runs.

George “Colonel” Farson, a catcher who played professionally for 10 seasons, died Oct. 10 in Fort Kent, Maine. He was 70.

Farson played his whole career in the Orioles organization, starting with Bluefield (Appalachian) in 1962 and working his way up to Triple-A Rochester (International) during the 1967 season. After a season back in Double-A, Farson returned to Rochester in 1969 and played three seasons there, though his playing time was limited. His Triple-A time was highlighted by his hitting .310 in 71 at-bats for Rochester during the ’69 season.

Gene Gaviglio, a second baseman who played in the minor leagues for seven seasons, died Oct. 12, 2010, in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 84.

Gaviglio spent most of his career playing in the Western International League, playing for five teams over parts of five seasons there between 1946 and 1951. His best year in that circuit came in 1948, a season he split between Wenatchee and Yakima while hitting .292 with three homers and 66 RBIs in 466 at-bats.

Gary Hicks, an outfielder who played in the minors for four seasons, died Nov. 1, 2010, in Onawa, Iowa. He was 79.

Hicks debuted with Cedar Rapids (Central Association) in 1949, making 10 appearances. After spending the 1950 season playing semipro ball, Hicks opened the 1951 season with Carthage (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri) and hit .203 in 78 games before finishing out the year with Sioux Falls (Northern). After splitting the 1952 season between Sioux Falls and Janesville (Wisconsin State), Hicks had his best season in 1953, hitting .254 in 122 at-bats for Gainesville (Sooner State) in what would be his final campaign.

Ed Hughes, a lefthander who pitched six seasons in pro ball, died Sept. 17, 2010, in Zion, Utah. He was 82.

Hughes had a well-traveled career spanning from 1947-54, with a two-year interruption to serve in the military in 1951-52. He pitched in a total of 11 different leagues in his six seasons of minor league ball. His longest stretch with any one team came during the 1953 season, during which he made 31 appearances with Pampa (West Texas-New Mexico) and went 12-9, 5.09 in 175 innings. He also won four games with Baton Rouge (Evangeline) that season, with the 16 total victories easily setting a career-high.

Bill Jennings, a shortstop who played one season for the St. Louis Browns, died Oct. 20, 2010, in Affton, Mo. He was 85.

Jennings was a veteran of the U.S. Navy who didn’t begin his baseball career until after he got out of the service in 1946. He hit .285 in consecutive seasons in the American Association in 1949 and 1950, and he made his big league debut in July 1951 after five seasons in the minors. He’d been playing in the New York Giants’ farm system before being purchased by the St. Louis Browns and called up to the majors. He played in 64 games for the Browns over the remainder of the ’51 season, batting .179 with 13 RBIs. Jennings played two more seasons in the minors after that but never got another shot at the big leagues.

Bill Jones, a lefthander who pitched in three minor league seasons, died Nov. 1, 2010, in Sodus, N.Y. He was 78.

Jones spent three years in the low minors from 1952-54, his best season coming in 1952 when he went 8-7, 4.21 in 184 innings for Kingsport (Appalachian). He pitched in three different leagues over the next two seasons, posting a combined record of 8-11.

Cliff Kachline, one of the founders of SABR and a former historian for the Hall of Fame, died June 28, 2010, in Normal, Ill. He was 88.

Kachline got into the baseball industry as an editor for the Sporting News in 1943, working for the magazine through 1967. After two years away from baseball, he came back as a historian for the Hall of Fame in 1969. He helped found the Society of American Baseball Research in 1971 and later served as its executive director from 1982-85, following his retirement from the Hall of Fame.

Clyde King, a righthander who pitched six seasons in the majors, died Nov. 2, 2010, in Goldsboro, N.C. He was 86.

King was just 20 years old when he made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in June 1944. He posted a 3.09 ERA in 44 innings as a rookie and was a mainstay of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 1945, appearing in 42 games. King was sent back to the minors in 1946 and later pitched three seasons for Montreal (International) from 1948-50. He made it back to Brooklyn in 1951, going 14-7, 4.17 in 121 innings. He was traded to the Reds after the 1952 season and pitched his final big league year there in 1953.

King stayed around the game after his playing career. He had three stints as a big league manager with the Giants, Braves and Yankees, going 464-229 in parts of five seasons. He was the Yankees’ general manager from 1985-86. He later worked for the Yankees as a scout and advisor from 1989-2010.

Jim Kleckley, a righthander who pitched in the minor leagues for nine seasons, died Oct. 19, 2010, in Lexington, S.C. He was 84.

Kleckley got a brief look at pro ball in 1944 but missed the next two seasons to serve in the military. He got to pitch a full season for the first time in 1947 and made the most of the opportunity, going 20-6, 3.28 with Spartanburg (Tri-State). He followed that season up by posting a career-best 3.11 ERA in 133 innings for New Orleans (Southern Association) in 1948, but his subsequent years were not as successful. He did have two more seasons with double-digit win totals, posting 11 for Columbia (South Atlantic) in 1952 and 16 for Fayetteville and Reidsville of the Carolina League in 1954, his final season.

Joe Marsello, a righthander who pitched for four seasons in the minor leagues, died Oct. 15, 2010, in Danvers, Mass. He was 82.

Marsello made his pro debut in 1948, but he saw only limited action in his first season, appearing in nine games. He joined Franklin (Virginia) in 1949 and played the next three seasons there, seeing action both as a pitcher and an outfielder. He was mostly an outfielder in 1949, hitting .248 in 314 at-bats while pitching just 32 innings. He shifted his focus to the mound in 1950, going 11-9, 2.90 in 152 innings. He won another 11 games in 1951, but his ERA rose to 4.40 in 182 innings.


Chris McKenna, an outfielder who played professionally for four seasons, died Sept. 5, 2010, in Cheboygan, Mich. He was 90.

McKenna got his start in pro ball during the 1940 season, appearing in 20 games in the Michigan State League. However, he didn’t get back on the field again until 1944, when he joined Kansas City (American Association). After 21 games with Kansas City, McKenna finished the ’44 season with Norfolk (Piedmont), where he batted .301 in 312 at-bats. He spent most of his final two seasons in 1945-46 playing for Binghamton (Eastern), batting over .300 in both of them.

Billy Megginson, a second baseman who played two seasons in the minor leagues, died Oct. 2, 2010, in Charlotte. He was 81.

Megginson spent both his pro seasons playing for Mooresville (North Carolina State) in 1952-53, batting .300 in 90 at-bats in his second season.


Wes Moore, a righthander who pitched in the minors for three seasons in the 1970s, died Oct. 16, 2010. He was 57.

The Dodgers took Moore in the first round (17th overall) of the January 1973 draft out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC, and he pitched three years in their system. Moore went 6-6, 3.21 in 87 innings for Bellingham (Northwest) in his 1973 pro debut, then won eight games for Orangeburg (Western Carolinas) in 1974. But he pitched just 26 innings at Danville (Midwest) in 1975 as his career came to a close.

Bill Morris, an outfielder who played two seasons in the minors in the 1960s, died Nov. 3, 2010, in Sedgwick, Kan. He was 72.

The majority of Morris’ pro experience came with Shelby (Western Carolinas) during the 1962 season, where he hit .242 with five home runs in 231 at-bats. He landed with Idaho Falls (Pioneer) in 1963 but only appeared in five games.

Ron Piche, a righthander who pitched in the major leagues for six seasons, died Feb. 3 in Montreal. He was 75.

Piche broke into the major leagues in 1960 and pitched in parts of four seasons for the Milwaukee Braves, working mostly out of the bullpen. He had his finest year as a major leaguer in 1963, posting a 3.40 ERA in 53 innings. Piche was traded to the California Angels after the 1964 season, making 14 appearances for the Angels in 1965 while spending most of that season in the minors. He pitched his final big league season in 1966 for the Cardinals, going 1-3, 4.26 in 25 innings, although he continued pitching the minors for a few more years.

After his playing career ended in 1972, Piche returned to his native Quebec and worked for the Montreal Expos in a number of capacities, ranging from public relations to being a minor league pitching instructor. He continued working for the team until its relocation in 2004. Piche’s dedication to the Expos and the sport earned him the nickname “Monsieur Baseball,” and he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Charles Powell, a lefthander who pitched for five seasons in the minors, died July 4, 2010, in California. He was 50.

The Pirates drafted Powell out of a California high school in the seventh round in 1977, and he made his pro debut that summer, going 2-4, 3.33 in the Gulf Coast League. Pitching the next four seasons at the Class A level, mostly as a reliever, Powell compiled a 5-11, 4.89 career record before his career ended in 1981.

Bill Raimondi, a catcher who had a long career in the Pacific Coast League, died Oct. 18, 2010, in Alameda, Calif. He was 96.

Raimondi’s pro career spanned from 1931-53, and he spent all but one of the seasons playing in the PCL, mostly for the Oakland Oaks. Though he never hit for much power, Raimondi was a fairly effective offensive catcher for most of his career. He hit .289 in his first full season in the PCL in 1933, at age 19, and batted over .280 eight times over the course of his career. He set his career-high for RBIs at 70 the following season. He batted a career-best .304 for Oakland in 1939 and had his best stretch there from 1946-48, hitting at least .285 in each of those years. After 16 seasons in an Oakland uniform, Raimondi went to Sacramento during the 1949 season and finished his career with three seasons with the Los Angeles Angels from 1951-53.

James Settle, a catcher who spent one season playing pro ball, died Oct. 8, 2010, in Bellefonte, Pa. He was 77.

Settle’s only pro experience came with Olean (PONY) during the 1955 season, when he got into 52 games and batted .180 with 12 RBIs.

Valmy Thomas, a catcher who played in parts of five major league seasons, died Oct. 16, 2010, in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was 81.

Although Thomas was born in Puerto Rico, he was raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands and is credited with being the first major leaguer from there. He made his big league debut with the New York Giants in 1957 and had a semi-regular role with the club for two seasons. He hit .259 for the Giants after their move to San Francisco for the 1958 season, then was traded to the Phillies that offseason. He batted .200 in his lone season in Philadelphia, then he was sold to the Orioles in May 1960. He saw only limited action at the big league level over the next two seasons, appearing in a combined 35 games between stints with the Orioles and Indians.


Don Wisseman, a lefthander who pitched in two minor league seasons, died Nov. 1, 2010, in Union Vale, N.Y. He was 90.

Wisseman made a total of 24 pro pitching appearances during the 1939 and 1940 seasons, splitting his time between Hutchinson (Western Association) and Carthage (Arkansas-Missouri). He posted a 7-10 career record.

Dale Younkin, a righthander who pitched in two minor league seasons, died July 5, 2010, in Pocatello, Idaho. He was 82.

Younkin made his pro debut in 1945, when he pitched in four games for Zanesville (Ohio State), posting an 0-1 record in 23 innings. He missed the 1946 season while serving in the military but returned for another year in 1947. He pitched in 15 games for Ponca City (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri), going 1-1.

Majors | #2011 #Obituaries

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