Matty Alou, an outfielder who played 15 seasons in the majors and was a two-time all-star, died Nov. 3 in Miami. He was 72.
Matty was the second of the three Alou brothers to come up with the Giants in the late 1950s and early ’60s, following older brother Felipe and preceding younger brother Jesus. Alou made his debut with the Giants in September 1960 at age 21 and played a part-time role for the next three seasons, putting up solid offensive numbers in 1961 and ’62 before slumping in 1963. He received more playing time in 1964 and ’65 but was up and down offensively, batting .264 in ’64 but dropping back to .231 in ’65.
Alou was traded to the Pirates after the 1965 season, and he immediately blossomed in Pittsburgh. A .260 career hitter up to that point, Alou changed his approach and went out and won the National League batting title in 1966, hitting .342 in 535 at-bats in his first year in Pittsburgh. In a stretch of years dominated by pitching, Alou batted at least .330 for four straight years from 1966 to ’69. He made the All-Star Game in 1968 and ’69, leading the NL in both hits (231) and doubles (41) in ’69.
Alou continued to hit for high averages in the latter years of his career, but he also found himself on the move several times. He was traded to the Cardinals before the 1971 season, and he went on to play for the Athletics, Yankees and Padres, along with a second stint in St. Louis, over the last three years of his career. Alou was a member of Oakland’s 1972 World Series-winning team, having been traded there that August. Alou left the major leagues to play in Japan in 1974, ending his big league career with 1,777 hits and a .307 average. Alou played in Japan until 1976 and had brief stints as a scout and minor league manager after his playing days.
Joe Caffie, an outfielder who played two seasons for the Indians, died Aug. 1 in Warren, Ohio. He was 80.
Caffie had a highly successful minor league career which spanned from 1950 to ’61. He won two batting titles along the way, but he never saw much big league time. Caffie was called up to the Indians for the first time in September 1956 and hit .342 in 38 at-bats. He then appeared in 32 games for Cleveland during the 1957 season and hit .270 with three homers, a season in which he was also the International League’s leading hitter, batting .330 for Buffalo.
John Ceplo, a righthander who pitched in the minor leagues for seven seasons in the 1950s, died Feb. 6. He was 78.
Roger Charette, a righthander who pitched two seasons in the minors, died March 4 in South Hadley, Mass. He was 78.
Gino Cimoli, an outfielder who played 10 seasons in the majors and was an all-star in 1957, died Feb. 12 in Roseville, Calif. He was 81.
Cimoli made his big league debut in 1956 at the age of 26 as part of the World Series runner-up Brooklyn Dodgers. Coinciding with the Dodgers’ last season in Brooklyn in 1957, Cimoli made the National League all-star team in his first full season in the majors, batting .293 with 10 homers. Following the Dodgers’ first season in Los Angeles in 1958, Cimoli was traded to the Cardinals where he would play for one year before being traded to the Pirates in 1959. Cimoli was part of Pittsburgh’s 1960 World Series championship team, primarily serving as a reserve outfielder.
Cimoli was kept on the move over the next few seasons, beginning with a trade to the Milwaukee Braves in June 1961 and a selection in the Rule 5 draft by the Kansas City Athletics after the season. Cimoli’s last two notable seasons followed in 1962, when he led the league with 15 triples, and in 1963, when he ranked in the top five in both triples and outfield assists. As his days as a regular were over, Cimoli finished up his last two seasons with partial stints for the Athletics, Orioles and California Angels before being released during the 1965 season.
Cliff Dapper, a catcher who played one season in the major leagues, died Feb. 11 in Fallbrook, Calif. He was 91.
Dapper made the most of his short time in the majors. Appearing in eight games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April and May of 1942, Dapper went 8-for-17 with a homer and nine RBIs. He subsequently entered the military and never played in the majors again, although he did return to the field in the minors in 1946. Dapper continued on as a minor league player and manager through 1957. He was perhaps best remembered for being the player whom the Dodgers traded to the Southern Association’s Atlanta Crackers for future Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell in 1948.
Bill Ecklund, a lefthander who pitched five seasons in the minors in the 1940s and ’50s, died March 9 in Lowell, Mass. He was 81.
Greg Goossen, a first baseman who played six seasons in the majors, died Feb. 26 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 65.
Goossen made his major league debut as a 19-year-old with the Mets in September 1965. He split his time between the majors and minors over the next three seasons while converting from catcher to first base in 1968. Goossen was traded to the Seattle Pilots before the 1969 season and had his best year, appearing in 52 big league games and batting .309 with 10 homers. Goossen moved with the Pilots to Milwaukee when they became the Brewers in 1970, but he was sold to the Washington Senators halfway through the season. He appeared in 42 games combined between the two clubs, batting .241. The 1970 season would be his last big league action, though he continued playing in the minors for two more years.
Forrest “Spook” Jacobs, a second baseman who played in parts of three major league seasons, died Feb. 18 in Milford, Del. He was 85.
Following his high school graduation in 1943, Jacobs served in the military for three years. After completing of his service, he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a free agent in 1946. However, it was not until 1953 that Jacobs would get his shot at the big leagues, for the Philadelphia Athletics selected him in the Rule 5 draft. In 1954, Jacobs played 132 games with the A’s, batting .258. Jacobs finished fourth in the American League in stolen bases with 17. The A’s relocated to Kansas City in 1955, but Jacobs appeared in just 45 games for the team over the next two seasons before being traded to the Pirates in June 1956. He got into 11 games for Pittsburgh but spent the rest of his career in the minors.
Tony Malinosky, a shortstop who played one season in the majors as part of a seven-year pro career, died Feb. 8 in Oxnard, Calif. He was 101.
Malinosky played in 35 games for the 1937 Brooklyn Dodgers as a shortstop and third baseman, batting .228 with three RBIs. Born in 1909, the Dodgers celebrated Malinosky in 2009 in honor of his 100th birthday. Malinosky was notable for being the oldest living former major leaguer at the time of his passing.
Marty Marion, a shortstop who was an eight-time all-star in the 1940s, died March 15 in Ladue, Mo. He was 93.
Marion broke into the majors as a 22-year-old with the Cardinals in 1940, taking over as the team’s everyday shortstop, a role he would fill for the next decade. Marion was best known for his defense, and he finished first or second in fielding percentage among National League shortstops every year from 1943 to ’50. Marion had his best offensive season in 1942, when he hit .276 with 54 RBIs and a league-leading 38 doubles. He also made his first appearance in the World Series with the Cardinals in 1942, though he had just two hits in the Series as the Cardinals took down the Yankees in five games.
The Cardinals went to the World Series four times in five years from 1942 to ’46 with Marion as their shortstop, and they won it all three times. For his career, Marion batted .250 with 11 RBIs in 23 World Series games. Along the way, he captured the 1944 NL MVP award—a year in which he hit .267 with 63 RBIs—and made the NL all-star team every year from 1943 to ’50. Injuries forced Marion to the sidelines in 1951, but he was named the team’s manager instead and guided the Cardinals to an 81-73 record. The Cardinals released him after the 1951 season, and he went on to serve as a player/manager for the St. Louis Browns in 1952 and ’53 and as manager for the White Sox from 1954 to ’56.
Tom McAvoy, a lefthander who pitched in one major league game in a seven-year pro career, died March 19 in Stillwater, N.Y. He was 74.
McAvoy made his only big league appearance on the last day of the 1959 season, his fourth in pro ball. That day, he pitched 223 innings of scoreless relief for the Washington Senators against the Red Sox. McAvoy broke his arm during the following offseason and didn’t pitch at all in 1960. He returned to the mound in 1961 and pitched in the minors through 1963, but he never got to the big leagues again.
Charlie Metro, an outfielder who played three seasons in the major leagues, died March 10 in Beckingham, Va. He was 91.
Metro made his big league debut in 1943, appearing in 44 games for the Tigers mostly as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, as he had just 44 plate appearances and hit .200. The Tigers released Metro in July 1944 and he was picked up by the Philadelphia Athletics, batting .161 in 62 games combined between the two stops. Metro was a regular in the A’s outfield for parts of the 1945 season, but he hit just .210 and was sent back to the minors in 1946.
Metro’s big league career as a player was over, but he began working as a minor league manager in 1947 and eventually reached the majors again as a coach. He managed the Cubs for part of the 1962 season, the last manager in the Cubs’ failed “College of Coaches” experiment. Metro next took a position as a coach and scout for the White Sox, then joined the expansion Royals’ front office in 1968. He returned to the dugout as the Royals’ manager in 1970 but was replaced after 54 games. Metro went on to work in various scouting and coaching capacities for the Tigers, Dodgers and Athletics before retiring in 1984.
Ralph Schumey, who played briefly in the minors in 1948, died Jan. 16. He was 81.
Chuck Tanner, an outfielder who played eight seasons in the majors and had a long managerial career, died Feb. 11 in New Castle, Pa. He was 82.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of Tanner’s playing career was his connecting for a home run on the first pitch he saw in his major league debut for the Milwaukee Braves on April 12, 1955. Tanner’s best year came in 1957 following a trade to the Cubs, where Tanner accumulated 424 plate appearances and hit at a league average clip of .279/.329/.408 with 9 home runs. Tanner would finish up three partial seasons with the Indians and the Angels before being released in 1962.
While his big league playing career lasted eight seasons, Tanner is far better known for his managerial prowess as he navigated four major league teams from 1970-1988. After working his way up the ladder in the Angels’ minor league system, Tanner took over the White Sox in 1970, managing for six years at close to a .500 clip. He managed for one season in Oakland, leading the Athletics to a second place finish in 1976, before going to his most successful stop, the Pirates.
During his nine seasons in Pittsburgh (1977-1985), Tanner took his team to a World Series championship in 1979 and had winning records six times. Tanner’s managerial career finished up in 1988 after three seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Tanner’s post-managerial career included five seasons as a special assistant in the Indians organization and most recently as a senior advisor to Neal Huntington in the Pirates organization.
Anyone with an obituary to contribute may contact Carle at 909 SW Corine Court, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081, or at [email protected] Minor league obituaries may also be e-mailed to Nemec at [email protected]