Robert “Buddy” Blattner, a second baseman who played five seasons in the majors in the 1940s, died Sept. 4 in Chesterfield, Mo. He was 89.
Blattner began his pro career in 1938 at the age of 18 and reached the Pacific Coast League in only his third year as a pro, when he batted .278 in 442 at-bats for the Sacramento Solons in 1940. Blattner’s offense took off in 1941, when he hit .294 while slugging 17 home runs, knocking in 100 runs and stealing 23 bases for Sacramento, a performance that earned him his first look at the big leagues the following year.
Blattner made 19 appearances for the Cardinals in 1942, but hit just .043 in 23 at-bats while spending most of the year with Rochester (International). He had to put his baseball career on hold to join the armed forces after the ’42 season, not returning until 1946 when he got back to the majors with the New York Giants. The 1946 season would be Blattner’s only one as a regular in the majors, as he hit .255 with 11 home runs for the Giants over 420 at-bats. He was limited to part-time roles over the next two seasons before being picked by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft in 1948. He stayed in a supporting role for Philadelphia in 1949, getting into 64 games and hitting .247 over 97 at-bats. After the ’49 season, Blattner ended his playing career to embark on a long career in broadcasting that lasted until 1975 and included stops with the St. Louis Browns, the Cardinals, Angels and Royals.
Bob Carlson, an outfielder and righthanded pitcher who made 10 professional appearances, died Aug. 22 in Townshend, Vt. He was 70.
Carlson got into five games as a pitcher for Salem (Appalachian) in 1960, posting a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings of work, though he didn’t figure in any decisions. He also got into five other games as an outfielder and went 3-for-17 with a double at the plate.
Jackie Collum, a lefthander who pitched nine seasons in the major leagues, died Aug. 28 in Grinnell, Iowa. He was 82.
Collum began his pro career as a 19-year-old in the Cardinals system in 1947, going 15-11, 3.29 in 194 innings for St. Joseph (Western Association). Collum returned to St. Joseph for the 1948 season and was dominant, posting a league-leading 24-2, 2.47 record with 22 complete games over 237 innings. He reached the big leagues three years later, making three appearances for the Cardinals at the tail end of the 1951 season. After returning to the minors for most of 1952, Collum was traded to the Reds in May 1953, where he finished his first full year in the majors going 7-11, 3.97 over 136 innings while splitting time between starting and relieving.
Collum would continue working out of the bullpen for most of his time in Cincinnati, although he did make 17 starts for the Reds in 1955, when he went 9-8, 3.63. The Reds traded Collum back to the Cardinals after the ’55 season, but his return to St. Louis lasted only one season, in which he went 6-2, 4.20, before he was shipped to the Cubs in December 1956. The 1957 campaign would see Collum’s last meaningful action in the big leagues. He made nine appearances for the Cubs before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, who demoted him to the minors shortly thereafter. He returned to the majors to make a handful of appearances for the Dodgers in September 1957, but other than another brief callup in 1958, he didn’t get back to the majors again until 1962, his final season. He pitched 15 innings for the Twins that year before being dealt to the Indians, where he made only one appearance. In all, Collum pitched 464 big league innings, compiling a 32-28, 4.15 record over 171 appearances, including 37 starts.
Dave Elliot, a lefthander who pitched in three professional seasons, died Sept. 9 in Bedford, Ind. He was 80.
Elliot won 12 games for Bartlesville (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri) in 1948, going 12-7, 2.15 in 201 innings, but sat out the 1949 season before returning to pro ball in 1950. He won another 12 games that year, splitting time between Bartlesville and Waco (Big State), but entered the military after the season and returned to pro ball for just a brief stint with Waco-Longview (Big State) in 1953.
Cal Ermer, a second baseman who made one appearance for the 1947 Washington Senators, died Aug. 8 in Chattanooga. He was 85.
Ermer’s career began in 1942, but he joined the military after that season and didn’t return to baseball until 1946. Ermer received his only big league callup after hitting .279 with seven home runs for Charlotte (Tri-State) in 1947. The Senators called him up that September and he made his lone big league appearance Sept. 26, going 0-for-3. He returned to Charlotte for the 1948 season would play another four years in the minors. He became a player-manager for Orlando (Florida State) in 1950 and began a long career as a minor league manager that lasted through 1984. He made it to the big leagues as manager of the Twins for parts of two seasons in 1967 and ’68, compiling a 145-129 record. He spent the last seven seasons of his career managing the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens (International) from 1978-84.
Chuck Hatfield, who played briefly for Fargo-Moorhead (Northern), died Aug. 14 in Canton, Ohio. He was 86.
Hatfield’s pro career was limited to a pair of short stints with Fargo-Moorhead, the first coming in 1946 and the second in 1948, both consisting of fewer than ten games.
Max Hittle, a righthander who pitched in six professional seasons, died Sept. 4 in Lodi, Calif. He was 87.
Hittle made 10 appearances for Norfolk (Western) in 1940, his first pro season, going 4-3, 2.60 over 52 innings. He spent most of the next two seasons with Idaho Falls (Pioneer), including an 11-8, 3.66 campaign in 1942, before joining the military after the ’42 season. Hittle returned to baseball in 1946 with Beaumont (Texas) and posted a 3-2, 4.09 record over eight appearances before heading to Binghamton (Eastern), where he finished the year going 4-7, 4.16. He split the 1947 season between Victoria (Western International) and Bisbee (Arizona-Texas), before sitting out 1948. Hittle returened to pro ball breifly in 1949, making four appearances with Twin Falls (Pioneer), before calling it a career for good.
Rod MacKay, a righthander who pitched in six pro seasons, died Aug. 29 in Vancouver, B.C. He was 78.
MacKay threw 142 innings for Reno (Sunset) in his first pro season, 1949, while going 6-7, 4.69. He struggled initially in 1950 with Idaho Falls (Pioneer), but rebounded with Erie (Middle Atlantic), posting a 4.06 ERA and 6-4 record over 102 innings. He went back to Idaho Falls in 1951 and posted a career-high 10 victories along with a 4.72 ERA and nine complete games. After spending most of 1952 with Knoxville (Tri-State), MacKay spent the final two seasons of his career with Vancouver (Western International), where he went 3-3, 3.51 in 1953 and 2-2, 3.38 in 1954.
Eddie Martin, a catcher who played professionally for nine seasons, died June 19 in Leeds, Ala. He was 92.
Martin opened his career in 1935 with Washington (Pennsylvania State Association), where he hit .272 and slugged seven home runs, which turned out to be his career high. He spent most of the next season with Butler (Pennsylvania State Association) and batted .304 with two home runs before moving to Akron (Middle Atlantic) to finish the year. His offensive numbers tailed off over the next few seasons as Martin bounced from one league to the next. He hit .261 with 23 doubles and 46 RBIs for Auburn (Canadian-American) in 1938 and .263 between three stops in ’39, but struggled over the next three seasons before joining the armed forces. Martin returned to baseball as a player-manager with Radford (Blue Ridge) in 1946 and made 74 appearances, hitting .267 with one home run, but that would be the last playing action of his career.
Bob Molitor, a righthander who pitched professionally for two seasons, died July 14 in Vancouver, Wash. He was 89.
Molitor made 15 appearances for Spokane (Western International) in 1942, going 1-4, 7.03 in 64 innings. He joined the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers in 1943, but made just six appearances.
Jack Phillips, a first baseman who played in nine major league seasons, died Aug. 30 in Chelsea, Mich. He was 87.
Phillips originally came up through the Yankees system and made his big league debut in August 1947 after four years in the minors. He had also missed the 1945 season to serve in the military. Phillips spent most of the 1948 season back in the minors, but opened 1949 with New York and was hitting .308 through 45 games before the Yankees sold him to the Pirates. Phillips played a part-time role for Pittsburgh over the next two seasons, seeing time both at third base and first. He hit .293 for the Pirates in 1950, but slumped to .237 in 1951 and would spend the next three seasons back in the minors with the Pacific Coast League’s Hollywood Stars.
Phillips hit .300 for the Stars in 1952, his first season there, and captured the PCL’s MVP award two years later in 1954 after hitting .300 with 17 home runs and 88 RBIs. That performance earned him another crack at the big leagues with the Tigers. Phillips put up his best offensive season in the majors for Detroit in 1955, batting .316 over 117 at-bats with 20 RBIs. He had another productive season in 1956, hitting .295, but was sent back to the minors early in the 1957 season and never got back to the majors. Phillips played another two seasons in the minors before retiring after the 1959 season. He left as a .283 lifetime hitter in the majors over 892 at-bats.
Don Pierce, a catcher who played briefly in 1950, died Aug. 29 in Billings, Mont. He was 80.
Pierce played for Chanute (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri) in 1950, but appeared in less than 10 games.
Luis Quintana, a lefthander who pitched in parts of two seasons for the California Angels, died July 27 in Lake Park, Fla. He was 57.
Quintana spent the first three years of his career in the Giants’ system after signing out of Puerto Rico in 1971. Quintana went 17-14, 4.13 over those three seasons, but was released by the Giants after the 1973 season. The Angels picked him up in January 1974 and he had a breakout season with El Paso (Texas), going 7-4, 2.14 in 33 appearances, all in relief. Quintana was only 22 years old when he was promoted to the big leagues for the first time in July 1974 and made 18 appearances for the Angels the rest of the way, going 2-1, 4.15 in 13 innings.
Quintana spent most of the 1975 season back in the minors with Salt Lake City (Pacific Coast), but was called up and made four appearances for the Angels in June of that season, going 0-2, 6.43, before heading back to Salt Lake City. That brief cameo would be Quintana’s last big league action, as he would pitch another seven seasons in the minors without getting back to the majors. He would miss the 1979 season, but returned in 1980 and pitched four seasons in the American Association from 1980-83. He went 9-5, 4.18 in 56 appearances for Wichita in 1982, but left the game after the 1983 season in which he made only 21 appearances and went 2-2, 4.00.
Mickey Weintraub, a second baseman who played five professional seasons in the 1940s, died Aug. 13 in Mount Lebanon, Pa. He was 88.
Weintraub began his pro career as a shortstop in 1941, but he entered the military after that season and didn’t return to pro ball until 1945, when he made 49 appearances for Trenton (Inter-State). He batted .286 with 12 RBIs for Trenton but played sparingly in 1946, making just 33 appearances combined between stops with four different teams. Weintraub spent most of the 1947 season with Stamford (Colonial), where he hit .283 in 233 at-bats, before finishing the season by making 25 appearances for San Diego (Pacific Coast). He played one more season while serving as a player-manager with Wytheville (Blue Ridge) in 1948, batting .386 in 44 at-bats.
Davey Williams, a second baseman who played six seasons for the New York Giants and was an all-star in 1953, died Aug. 17 in Farmer’s Branch, Texas. He was 81.
Williams made his big league debut for the Giants as a 21-year-old in September 1949, appearing in 13 games and hitting .240 in 50 at-bats. He returned the minors for the next two seasons before making it to the big leagues full-time in 1952, when he hit .254 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs. Williams earned his only trip to the all-star game in 1953 thanks to a campaign that saw him hit .297 with three home runs and 34 RBIs. He helped the Giants win the World Series in 1954, though his offensive numbers dropped off and he hit just .222 with nine home runs. He played only one more season before ending his playing career to join the Giants’ coaching staff in 1956.
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