Obituaries: March 17




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Tom Auger, a righthander who pitched professionally for one season, died Oct. 6, 2010, in Lewiston, Maine. He was 82.

Auger pitched for two teams during the 1948 season. He got into two games with Albany (Georgia-Florida) and seven with Duluth (Northern), posting a combined record of 1-4 in 42 innings.

Bill Brooks, a catcher who played three seasons in pro ball, died Nov. 8, 2010, in Wilmington, N.C. He was 88.

Brooks' career started in 1946, when he hit .247 with nine home runs for Wilson (Coastal Plain). He played for a couple of teams briefly in 1947 before spending most of that year with New Bern (Coastal Plain). He remained with New Bern in 1948 and had his best season, hitting .285 with 11 homers and 76 RBIs.

Gene Dziadura, a shortstop who played in the minors for three seasons before going on to a scouting career, died Nov. 9, 2010, in Chatham, Ontario. He was 74.

Dziadura is best remembered as the Phillies scout who signed Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins as a 19-year-old in 1962. Dziadura's own playing career lasted from 1956-58. He hit .294 in 218 at-bats for Ponca City (Sooner State) in 1956, but saw limited action with three different teams over the next two seasons.

Bill Early, a third baseman who played one season in the minors, died Oct. 27, 2010, in Flint, Mich. He was 86.

Early appeared in 13 games for Springfield (Eastern) in 1943, batting .256 with three RBIs.

George Estock, a righthander who pitched one season for the Boston Braves, died Nov. 7, 2010, in Sebastian, Fla. He was 86.

Estock began his pro career in the Red Sox organization in 1943 at age 18. He went on to pitch in the Pirates and Phillies systems while working his way up the minors throughout the late 1940s. He twice won 20 games in the minors, including doing so when he was just 20 years old, and went 22-6, 2.90 for Wilmington (Inter-State) in 1945. The Braves picked up Estock before the 1950 season and he spent his only big league campaign there in 1951. He pitched in 37 games for the Braves, making one start, and went 0-1, 4.33 in 60 innings. He returned to the minors in 1952 and played another four seasons before his career concluded in 1955.

Gene Fodge, a righthander who pitched one season for the Cubs, died Oct. 27, 2010, in Mishawaka, Ind. He was 79.

Fodge pitched five seasons in the minors before getting to the big leagues in 1958, highlighted by his going 16-10, 2.28 for Des Moines (Western) in 1955. Fodge made 16 appearances, including four starts, for the Cubs over the first half of the 1958 season, going 1-1, 4.76. He was sent back down to the minors that July and called it a career after that season.

Anthony Giusto, an outfielder who played in the minors for one season, died Nov. 6, 2010, in Alameda, Calif. He was 90.

Giusto appeared in 49 games for Union City (Kitty) during the 1938 season, batting .208 with 20 RBIs in 154 at-bats.

Guillermo Grajeda, a righthander who pitched eight seasons in the minors, died Oct. 27, 2010, in Tucson. He was 85.

Grajeda made his pro debut in 1948 but made just eight appearances over his first two seasons combined. He pitched his first full season in 1950 with Tucson (Arizona-Texas), going 4-2, 6.20 in 61 innings. He pitched in four different leagues over the next three seasons, his best success coming with Decatur (Mississippi-Ohio Valley) in 1953, when he went 12-8, 3.97 in 170 innings. He only pitched one more full season after that, and his career came to an end after he made two appearances with Nogales (Arizona-Mexico) in 1955.

Jack Golden, an outfielder who played one season of minor league ball, died Nov. 8, 2010, in Louisiana. He was 82.

Golden played for two clubs during the 1950 season. He got into 21 games with Houma (Evangeline) and 64 with Brownsville (Rio Grande Valley), hitting a combined .204 with one homer in 206 at-bats.

Joe Greene, a righthander who played in two minor league seasons, died Nov. 7, 2010. He was 77.

Greene got his career off to a flying start, going 11-4, 1.70 in 122 innings with Valdosta (Georgia-Florida) in 1954. However, he put baseball on hold to enter the military and didn't get back on the mound until 1957 with Durham (Carolina), going 2-1 in 12 games.

Ed Lubanski, a righthander who pitched three seasons in the minors, died Oct. 8, 2010, in Warren, Mich. He was 81.

Lubanski enjoyed plenty of success on the mound during his brief minor league career. He got his start in 1947 by going 11-5, 2.21 for Belleville (Illinois State). Pitching for Wausau (Wisconsin State) in 1948, his ERA registered at a lofty 4.33, but Lubanski posted a 23-8 record, leading the league in wins and innings (218). He went 16-5, 3.35 for Muskogee (Western Association) in 1949, but he left baseball after that season and went on to a successful career as a professional bowler.

Luke Owens, an infielder who saw action in three minor league seasons, died Nov. 10, 2010, in Grand Island, N.Y. He was 87.

Owens played briefly for Jamestown (PONY) in 1940, then spent a year away from the game. He returned in 1942 and played for five different teams over two seasons before leaving baseball to join the armed forces.

Rudy Rufer, a shortstop who played two seasons for the New York Giants, died Oct. 25, 2010, in Malverne, N.Y. He was 83.

Rufer rose through the ranks quickly early in his career, making his big league debut at age 22 as a September callup in 1949. He appeared in seven games for the Giants, recording one hit and two RBIs. He played in 15 games for New York in 1950, going 1-for-11 at the plate, but that would be the end of his big league career. Rufer played five more seasons in the minors, followed by two as a player/manager. After his playing career, Rufer worked as a scout for the Dodgers for 25 years.

Vern Thoele, a shortstop who played nine seasons of minor league baseball, died Oct. 30, 2010. He was 80.

Thoele opened his pro career in 1941 and spent his first few years in pro ball playing mostly for Bowling Green (Kitty) and Toronto (International). He had his breakout year with New Orleans (Southern Association) in 1946, batting .281 while collecting four home runs and 36 RBIs. He hit a career-best .308 in 1947, a season he split between New Orleans and New Iberia (Evangeline), and batted over .280 twice more after that season as well. He last played with Granby (Provincial) in 1951.

Jay Van Noy, an outfielder who played briefly in the majors as part of an 11-year pro career, died Nov. 6, 2010, in Logan, Utah. He was 82.

Van Noy played three sports at Utah State and was taken in the 10th round of the 1950 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams, but he chose to play pro baseball instead. Van Noy reached the majors in his second season in pro ball, appearing in six games, including one start, with the Cardinals in June 1951. He went 0-for-7 at the plate and scored one run. He went on to play in the minors through the 1960 season, when he retired as a .258 lifetime hitter. He hit over .280 three times, his best year coming with Oklahoma City (Texas) in 1954, when he hit .290 with six homers in 400 at-bats. Van Noy's career also included a stint as head coach of Brigham Young's baseball team and as an assistant with its football team.

Ryan White, a first baseman who had a standout career at Arkansas Tech, died Feb. 22, 2010, in Hernando, Miss., as the result of an automobile accident. He was 27.

White played for Division II Arkansas Tech from 2002-05, twice being named first-team all-conference. He ended his playing career as the school's all-time leader in hits (250), doubles (59) and total bases (381). White later served as an assistant coach at Ouachita Baptist, another Arkansas-based D-II school, from 2006-08, and had been working as the head coach at Senatobia (Miss.) High since 2008.

Artie Wilson, a shortstop who played briefly in the majors as part of a 15-year pro career, died Oct. 31, 2010, in Portland, Ore. He was 90.

Wilson had a decorated career in the Negro Leagues with the Birmingham Black Barons from 1944-48. He batted over .370 three times in his four full seasons, including hitting .402 in 1948. The Indians and Yankees both tried to acquire Wilson after the '48 season, getting into a dispute which led to a contract Wilson had signed with Cleveland being voided before he ended up with New York. The Yankees then sold him to the Pacific Coast League's Oakland Oaks, where he played integrated ball for the first time. Wilson would spend the bulk of the rest of his career in the PCL, his only taste of the majors coming in 1951. He appeared in 19 games for the New York Giants, recording four hits and two stolen bases. He went on to bat .300 in four straight seasons in the PCL from 1952-55, playing mostly with the Seattle Rainiers. He played his last full season in 1957, though he briefly returned to the field in 1962. Wilson was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in 2003.

Anyone with an obituary to contribute may contact Bill Carle at 909 SW Corine Court, Lee's Summit, MO 64081, or at bbxpert@aol.com.

Minor league obituaries may also be e-mailed to Ray Nemec at basebalray@aol.com.