Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mickey Vernon Came Close to Being A Brownie

Mickey Vernon died recently at age 90 at his home in Pennsylvania.

For 20 seasons, Vernon played in the major leagues with the Washington
Senators, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was named to seven all-star teams, and won two American League batting titles. After his playing career ended in 1960, he remained in baseball as a manager, coach and scout, retiring as a scout for the New York Yankees in 1988.

Last month, the baseball Hall of Fame's veterans committee chose Mr. Vernon as one of 10 finalists, whose playing careers started before 1942, for induction into the Hall this year.

For most of his career, Mr. Vernon played for Washington. Unlike the baseball player for a fictional team inspired by the Senators in Damn Yankees, Mr. Vernon never sold his soul to the devil and never got to go to the World Series as a player.

Though he was a first-base coach when the Pirates won the World Series in 1960, Mr. Vernon said that not playing for a World Series team was the only regret he had.

Mr. Vernon left the Pirates to manage the Senators for two-plus seasons. In his 70s, he was still fielding balls at old-timers' games, and played in golf tournaments this summer, said his daughter, Gay.

Mr. Vernon grew up playing sandlot baseball. He graduated from Eddystone High School. In 1937, he dropped out in his first year at Villanova University after he was recruited by the St. Louis Browns.

He played for Washington from 1939 to 1943, and then served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II. He returned to the team in 1946.

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