Baseball lost a number of players and off-the-field contributors in 2012:
“The Kid” played 21 seasons as a catcher primarily for the Montreal Expos and New York Mets. He was an 11-time all star and a member of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets. He finished 2nd in the 1975 Rookie of the Year vote and won three gold gloves. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
“The Needle” played 10 seasons, primarily with the Boston Red Sox. He was an All Star in 1946 and finished 3rd in the MVP vote his rookie season of 1942. He was a career .307 hitter and played in one World Series in 1946. He also served his country in World War II from 1943-5. His #6 is retired by the Red Sox, and the right field pole is nicknamed “Pesky’s Pole” for his prowess in wrapping short home runs around it.
“Moose” played 14 seasons primarily with the New York Yankees in their 1950’s and 60’s dynasty. He was a 6-time All Star and winner of five World Series, including one with the Dodgers against the Yankees. In his career, he clubbed 211 home runs and knocked in 888 baserunners. His best season in 1960, he hit 29 home runs and batter .309, finishing in the Top 10 of the MVP race.
Borbon pitched 12 years, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds out of the bullpen. In the era before specialty relievers, he frequently logged over 100 innings pitching in almost half his teams’ games. He finished his career at 69-39 with a 3.52 ERA. Borbon played on two of the “Big Red Machine’s” World Champion teams in 1975 and 1976. Having last pitched in 1980, he briefly attempted a come back in 1995 (at the age of 48) as a replacement player before the strike was settled.
“Perimeter” Perez (or I-285 Perez) pitched for 11 seasons primarily with the Montreal Expos and Atlanta Braves. He was a 15-game winner and All Star in 1983. He earned his nicknames above for once getting lost on Atlanta’s Beltway (I-285) when he couldn’t find Fulton County Stadium causing him to miss a start. He was known for antics such as checking the runner at first base by looking between his legs, sprinting to the dugout at the conclusion of an inning, and “shooting” his opponents with his finger after striking them out. He pitched a 5-inning no-hitter in 1988 (rain-shortened after being “called” by Harry Wendelstedt below).
Pastore pitched 8 seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds as a starter and reliever. His best season was 1980 in which he went 13-7 with 9 complete games and a 3.27 ERA at the age of 22. He pitched once in the postseason in 1979, holding the Pirates to 2 runs in 7 innings in a no-decision. He once set a record in eating a 72 ounce steak (and all the sides) in 9 minutes and 30 seconds, a record that stood until competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut beat it by a minute in 2008. Pastore hosted a Christian talk show in Los Angeles until his passing late this year.
Freel played 8 seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds as a utility infielder and outfielder. Known for his speed, he finished his career with 143 stolen bases having topped 35 steals three times in his career.
Miller was the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association for 16 years, during which time it gained power and clout that is still felt in the game today. Miller negotiated through three player strikes and oversaw the advent of free agency, of which the “6-year rule” still stands today (players are only free agent eligible after 6 years, a move designed to limit the free agent market and keep salaries healthy). Miller has had a few strong chances at Hall of Fame induction, however in each case (sometimes with different voting rules) he fell short.
MacPhail was a front office force for the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles and was also President of the American League for 11 years, including oversight of the infamous “pine tar” affair, deciding that Brett’s home run should count and the game be replayed from that point. He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, joining his father Larry MacPhail. The American League Championship Series MVP Trophy is named after Lee MacPhail.
“Sammye” was a pioneer and star talent in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, made famous by the movie “A League of Their Own“. An outstanding pitcher and outfielder, she was an All Star at both positions. She was a 2-time player of the year and 5-time All Star during her 8-year career. For her career, she batted .290 and had a 64-47 record (2.16 ERA).
Carl was a longtime radio broadcaster and more recently, public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox. He was behind the PA microphone for both the 2004 and 2007 World Series games at Fenway Park.
Wendelstedt was an umpiring legend of the 1960’s through 1990’s. He worked five World Series (crew chief for two of them), four All Star games, and three National League Championship Series. He was known for his emphatic strike calls and was a key figure in Don Drysdale’s consecutive scoreless streak (ruling that a batter did not adequately get out of the way before being hit, which would have forced in a run). He was behind the plate for five no-hitters, and started a renown and very successful umpiring school.