Mark Austry, an outfieler who played in one professional season, died March 14 in Dallas. He was 32.
Austry played college baseball at Texas Tech from 1998-2000 and then played one season for independent Fort Worth (All-American Association) in 2001. Austry got into 70 games for Fort Worth and hit .263 with one home run and 45 RBIs in 259 at-bats.
Wes Bailey, a lefthander who pitched for eight seasons in the minor leagues, died Feb. 22 in Alamo, Calif. He was 89.
Bailey got his first professional experience with Oneonta (Canadian-American) in 1942, pitching in 17 games and going 4-8, 4.59, but he entered the military and missed the next three seasons. Bailey returned to the mound with Scranton (Eastern) in 1946, logging 120 innings and putting up a 7-8, 3.68 record. The ’46 season turned out to be the best of Bailey’s career. He pitched for Louisville (American Association) in 1947 and went 6-8, 4.30 in 113 innings, then split the ’48 season between Louisville and Jersey City (International). After returning to Jersey City to start the 1949 campaign, Bailey spent most of that year with Minneapolis (American Association) and posted a career-high 14 wins between the two stops, finishing the year a combined 14-10, 5.13 in 216 innings. After one more season in Minneapolis, Bailey finished his career with two seasons in the Pacific Coast League. He went 9-8, 4.35 for Oakland in 1951 but made just 11 appearances in 1952 while spending time with San Francisco and Seattle.
Frank Bertaina, a lefthander who pitched seven seasons in the majors mostly with the Orioles, died March 3 in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 65.
Bertaina was just 20 years old when the Orioles called him up to the majors for the first time in August 1964. The lefty had gone 11-4, 1.99 in 131 innings for Elmira (Eastern) that year, and he made six appearances, including four starts, for the Orioles down the stretch, going 1-0, 2.77 in 26 innings. Most notably, Bertaina tossed a one-hit shutout against the Kansas City Athletics on Sept. 12, 1964, in just his third career start, picking up his first major league win.
The Orioles returned Bertaina to the minors in 1965, as he went 13-9, 3.88 for Rochester, leading the International League in strikeouts (188) and complete games (12). He made just two appearances for the Orioles that season, both in September, and had no decisions and a 6.00 ERA in six innings of work. He saw more extensive work in Baltimore during the Orioles’ 1966 World Series championship season, making nine starts and 16 appearances overall and going 2-5, 3.13 in 63 innings, although he did not pitch in the postseason. He continued splitting his time between Baltimore and Rochester that year though, and the Orioles traded him to the Washington Senators early in the 1967 season. Still only 23 years old, Bertaina became a regular in the Senators’ rotation, going 6-5, 2.92 in 17 starts.
Bertaina tossed 127 innings for the Senators in 1968, the high for his big league career, but went just 7-13, 4.68 and was traded back to Baltimore in June 1969. The Orioles, who went on to win the American League pennant that year, promptly sent Bertaina back to Rochester, where he went 7-3, 3.56 in 91 innings. After he’d spent most of the 1970 season with Rochester, Bertaina was purchased by the Cardinals that August, finishing out the season by making eight appearances for St. Louis and going 1-2, 3.19 in 31 innings. He played professionally for one more season, logging 39 innings for Tulsa (American Association) in 1971.
Bob Bundy, a second baseman who played nine seasons in the minor leagues, died Dec. 13, 2009, in Orange, Calif. He was 85.
Bundy was a productive offensive second baseman for most of his career, starting with when he hit .297 with three homers and 47 RBIs for Santa Barbara (California) in 1946. He got better in his second pro season in 1947, batting an even .300 for Pueblo (Western) and setting career highs for homers (eight) and RBIs (76) in 426 at-bats. He only got into 40 games for Idaho Falls (Pioneer) in 1948, but bounced back with another fine season in 1949 with Fort Worth (Texas), putting up a .350 average to go with three homers, 72 RBIs and a career-best 28 stolen bases.
Bundy opened the 1950 season in the Pacific Coast League with the Hollywood Stars and hit .321 in 41 games before moving on to St. Paul (American Association) and then finishing the year back at Fort Worth (Texas) with a .278 combined average in 446 at-bats between the three clubs. He stayed with Fort Worth for most of the 1951 season, appearing in 75 games and hitting .275, though he also spent time back with St. Paul and with Elmira (Eastern). Bundy’s average fell to .242 in 541 at-bats with Dallas (Texas) in 1952, though he still managed to drive in 68 runs. Bundy had a successful return to the Hollywood Stars in 1953, batting .324 in 102 at-bats, but struggled there in 1954 and finished the season with Hutchinson (Western Association), where he hit .419 in 129 at-bats. He retired as a .293 lifetime hitter in his nine minor league seasons.
Gene Butler, a pitcher who saw action in one professional season, died Feb. 10 in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 82.
Butlers’s only stint in pro baseball came with Tucson (Arizona-Texas) in 1947. He made six appearances and tossed 17 innings, compiling a 1-1, 7.41 record.
Willie Davis, an outfielder who was a three-time all-star for the Dodgers, died March 9 in Burbank, Calif. He was 69.
Davis reached the big leagues after only two seasons in the minors, breaking in with the Dodgers as a 20-year-old in September 1960. He hit .318 in that brief taste of the majors, then took over as the Dodgers’ everyday center fielder in 1961. An exceptional defender and base stealer, he held the job for 13 years. The Dodgers made three World Series appearances during Davis’ tenure there, winning twice, and he was able to excel in what was an extremely difficult era for offense. He hit .254 in his first full season in the majors at the age of 21 in 1961, then had his first big year in 1962, when he batted .285, hit 21 home runs, drove in 85 runs, stole 32 bases and led the National League in triples with 10. Davis’ numbers came down in 1963, when he hit .245, but he was still able to chip in nine homers and 25 steals as the Dodgers went on to win the World Series.
Davis hit .294 with 12 homers in 1964, beginning a stetch of three consecutive seasons in which he hit at least 10 homers. He helped the Dodgers win another World Series in 1965, though he hit just .231 (6-for-26) in Los Angeles’ seven-game triumph over the Twins. Davis didn’t put up spectacular numbers over the next couple of seasons, though he was able to keep holding his own. He hit .250 in 1968, the famed “year of the pitcher,” and saw his numbers skyrocket over the next two seasons as the sport started tilting the balance of power back towards hitters. Davis hit a career-high .311 in 1969 and added 11 homers and 24 steals. He would bat over .300 in each of the next two seasons as well, while he led the NL in triples for the second time in 1970 with 16. Davis earned his first All-Star Game appearance and Gold Glove in 1971, when he hit .309 and hit 10 homers. He added two more Gold Gloves the next two years, and he returned to the All-Star Game in 1973.
The ’73 season would be Davis’ last in Dodger blue though, as he was traded to the Montreal Expos for reliever Mike Marshall after the season. Davis stayed just one season in Montreal, during which he hit .295, before the Expos shipped him to the Rangers in December 1974. After a half season in Texas, during which he put up a .249 average in his first tour of the American League after 14 years in the NL, he was traded to the Cardinals in June 1975, where he finished the year batting .291 in 350 at-bats. Davis was then traded for the fourth time in less than two years when the Cardinals sent him to the Padres in October 1975. He hit .268 with San Diego in 1976 but was released after the season.
Davis spent the next two years playing in Japan, including hitting 25 homers in 75 games for the Chunichi Dragons in 1977, before returning to the U.S. with the Angels in 1979. The by then 39-year-old Davis hit .250 in limited action for the Angels, serving mostly as a pinch-hitter. He would play one more season, heading down to play for Veracruz (Mexican) in 1980 and batting .310 in 326 at-bats there. Davis ended his big league career with 2,561 hits, good enough for a .279 career average along with 182 home runs. He also stole 398 bases in his career, including a stretch of 11 straight seasons from 1962-72 in which he stole at least 20 bases.
Bob Fiser, a pitcher and outfielder who briefly played pro ball in 1947, died March 2 in Panama City, Ala. He was 85.
Fiser’s pro career lasted only a handful of games with Enterprise (Alabama State) in 1947, though he saw action both on the mound and in the outfield.
William Mattke, a catcher who played professionally for one season, died March 5 in Circle Pine, Minn.
Mattke appeared in 56 games for Grand Forks (Northern) in 1942, hitting .203 in 197 at-bats with four homers and 15 RBIs.
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