A year after at least 17 men with
ties to the St. Louis Cardinals died, including prominent names such as George Kissell and Dave Ricketts, I could only locate ten
who passed away during 2009.
Most notable perhaps was the late
Herman Franks, who I believe was the
oldest living former Cardinals player prior to his March 30 death and last to
suit up for the major league club in the 1930s.
According to the best information
I can unearth, Don Lang has taken
over from Franks as the oldest living ex-Cardinal. The 1948 Cardinals third
baseman turns 95 years old on March 15.
In terms of a living player who
played for the team the longest time ago, I believe Marty Marion holds that distinction.
The 92-year-old made his MLB debut on April 16, 1940, just short of 60 years
back. That is a year and a half prior to now-89-year-old Stan Musial’s September 1941 arrival.
2009 Cardinals deaths by
January 13: Preston Gomez, age 86.
The well-respected former coach
and manager of San Diego, Houston and the Cubs was a
Cardinals coach in 1976. Gomez was associated with the Angels for the last 28
years of his life.
January 25: Eddie Lyons, age
Lyons managed for five years in the
Cardinals minor league system in the late 1950s and early 1960s and scouted for
the organization until 1975.
January 28: Gene Corbett, age
Gene Corbett was an infielder who
played briefly for the Phillies in the late 1930’s. Later in his career, from
1947 through 1952, Corbett served as a player-manager in the Cardinals minor
league system in Class B and D at these outposts: Decatur, Salisbury,
Joseph and Albany.
February 18: Ben Flowers, age
A durable right-handed pitcher,
Flowers pitched briefly for the Cardinals at the end of the 1955 season and
early in 1956 making a total of seven starts in between a pair of trades.
March 17: Whitey Lockman, age
The former Giants outfielder and
later Cubs manager joined the Cardinals in the 1956 multi-player trade that sent
Red Schoendienst to the Giants. Lockman was dealt right back to New York the next spring
for future Hall of Famer and knucleballer Hoyt Wilhelm.
March 30: Herman Franks, age
Franks is perhaps most remembered
for his playing time with the Giants along with his coaching and managerial
years with the Chicago Cubs. Yet Franks began his MLB journey in St. Louis. The catcher
made his 1939 MLB debut with the Cardinals before heading over to the Browns for
the next two years. He died of heart failure at his Salt Lake City
June 14: Hal Woodeshick, age
The left-handed reliever concluded
his 11-season MLB career as an oft-used member of the 1965-1967 Cardinals.
Woodeshick pitched the final inning of the Cards’ game six loss to the Red Sox
in the 1967 World Series.
August 29: Jackie Collum, age
Left-handed pitcher Jackie Collum
came up through the system, first joining the Cardinals late in 1951. He saw
limited duty into 1953 when he was dealt to Cincinnati. Collum returned to the Cardinals as
a reliever for the 1956 season before being traded away again. He played nine
seasons in the majors for six clubs before finishing in
September 4: Buddy Blattner, age
Blattner, an infielder from
played for the Cardinals in 1942 before joining the Navy later that year. After
the war, he spent parts of four seasons with the Giants and Phillies before
embarking on a quarter century-long broadcasting career. Blattner was a part of
the Cardinals radio team in 1960 and 1961 and among his other jobs was once the
voice of the Browns and Royals. He is a two-time member of the Missouri Sports
Hall of Fame.
October 4: Barry Lersch, age
Lersch pitched for the Phillies
from 1969-1973, but finished his MLB career with one rough outing in the final
month of the 1974 Cardinals campaign after St. Louis had purchased his contract
addition, former St. Louis Browns player Bob Dillinger also passed away in
A tip of the cap to
Baseball-Reference.com for background statistical
articles: 2008, 2007, 2006
Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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