Loss is personal to all of us. We each deal with a loss in different ways. I’m not speaking about losing a game, but of the passing of so many of our childhood heroes lately.
Ex-athletes die all the time, but I guess this year with the pandemic / shelter I‘ve noticed it more. Being an athlete, you know you only have so many years to play before your career is over. The better or star players get to decide “when to hang’em up.” The good, marginal or role players normally have their fate decided by a manager or general manager, perhaps by an injury; but any way you look at it, their careers will end.
Some end up staying in the game as a coach or manager at some level; some scout or work in the front office; while still others go into the radio or television booths. The majority go into some other walk of life. Almost all have wives, children, grandchildren. They live rich lives as do the rest of us. And in the end, they pass as we all will.
How do you wrap your arms and minds around the passing of someone “famous” or that you looked up to as a youngster? You cheered for them, maybe got their autographs, made sure you watched them either in person or on tv every chance you got. If you were like me, had their baseball cards and would never trade them. They were bigger than life and brought you happiness and sorrow at various times.
With the passing of Ed Farmer, which hit me very hard as I loved him as a player and his radio broadcasts of the White Sox. In quick succession, we then lost Al Kaline, Glenn Beckert and another White Sox player, Bart Johnson. Other players as the months passed. Then recently Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Jay Johnstone and Joe Morgan within weeks of one another. The list grew bigger. My research showed that to date we have lost 83 former players along with four former players that became managers. I don’t know how that compares with other years, but boy it sure seems excessive.
I must admit, I shed some tears, read the articles detailing their careers, quotes from their old teammates, remembered some of the stories about them or the times I saw them play. It took me back to a simpler time, a time when I didn’t have to work; it was just school, friends, playing, reading about and watching baseball. Thank goodness for YouTube and the ability to see some of those old plays that I re-called in my mind. I shared stories with my grown kids, friends and teammates on the 60+ team I played with this past summer. It felt good to reminisce, commiserate and to re-live those happy days.
Not all those who have passed this year were household names, many had just a season or two in the majors, the proverbial “cup of coffee”. But I was reminded of The Righteous Brother’s song, “Rock and Roll Heaven” and how “they’ve got a hell of a band”. Well 2020 has a hell of a baseball team in the “Field of Dreams.”
Below is the 2020 team I organized from the 83 deceased players; I added all four managers to the “coaching staff.” They are listed by name, years they played, the date they died and their positions. I also noted the six who were elected to the Hall of Fame.
Don Larson (1953-1967). 1-1-2020. Right-Handed SP
Johnny Antonelli (1948-1961). 2-28-2020. Left-Handed SP
Tom Seaver (1967-1986). 8-31-2020. Right-Handed SP. *HoF
Bob Gibson (1959-1975). 10-2-2020. Right-Handed SP. *HoF
Whitey Ford (1950-1967). 10-8-2020. Left-Handed SP. *HoF
Ed Farmer (1971-1983) 4-1-2020. Right-Handed RP
Bart Johnson (1969-1977). 4-22-2020. Right-Handed P
Mike McCormick (1956-1971). 6-13-2020. Left-Handed P
Adrian Devine (1973-1980). 6-27-20. Right-Handed P
Ron Perranoski (1961-1973) 10-2-2020. Left-Handed RP
Ed FitzGerald (1948-1959). 6-14-2020. Catcher
J.W. Porter - (1952-1959). 10-11-2020. Catcher
Tony Fernandez (1983-2001). 2-15-2020. Short Stop
Glenn Beckert (1965-1975). 4-12-2020. 2nd Base
Bob Oliver (1965-1975). 4-19-2020. 1st Base / Outfield
Bob Watson (1966-1984). 5-14-2020. 1st Base / Left Field
Tony Taylor (1958-1976). 7-16-2020. 2nd / 3rd / 1st Base
Kim Batiste (1991-1996). 10-7-2020. 3rd / SS
Joe Morgan (1963-1984). 10-11-2020. 2nd Base. *HoF
Jim Wynn (1963-1977). 3-26-2020. Center Fielder
Al Kaline (1953-1974). 4-6-2020. Right Fielder. *HoF
Claudell Washington (1974-1990). 6-10-2020. Outfielder
Lou Brock (1961-1979). 9-6-2020. Left Fielder. *HoF
Jay Johnstone (1966-1985). 9-26-2020. Center Fielder
Lou Johnson (1960-1969). 9-30-2020. Center Fielder
Manager / Coaching Staff:
Jim Frey (1980-1986). 4-12-2020.
Bobby Winkles (1973-1978). 4-17-2020.
Eddie Kasko (1970-1970). 6-24-2020.
John McNamara (1969-1996). 7-28-2020.
Thanks for being a part of the game, my childhood and for all the memories. May these players, the others and all who have passed this year Rest in Peace.
~ Coach Mike