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Milt Gaston, 1896-1996.

William (Dummy) Hoy, 1862-1961.

P.S.  The 1895 Cincinnati club was probably the longest-lived team of all time.  Four of the players, including Dummy Hoy, lived past 90, captain Bid McPhee lived to 83, and six other Reds passed their 70th birthdays.

However, Cap Anson's pennant-winning 1885 Chicago White Stockings ballclub was one of the shortest-lived teams of all.  Of the 14 men who played for Chicago that year, five did not live to see their 40th birthdays and three others did not make it to 50.

P.P.S.  What major league player lived the shortest life?  It was Jay Dahl, who was 17 years old when he pitched in one game for Houston in 1963.  Dahl was killed in a car crash in 1965 at age 19.

 

 

Ted "Double-Duty" Radcliffe, 1902-2005.

 

 

Comments? Send e-mail to dfleitz@wowway.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Centenarian Ballplayers

 

by David Fleitz

Updated on May 18, 2012

From 1876, when the National League was founded, to the present day, more than 17,000 men have played major league baseball.  Since baseball is a sport that revels in statistical data about its players, there exists a wealth of information about almost all of those men.  We know, with few exceptions, when and where they were born and when and where they died (unless they are still living).

As far as research can tell, only 17 of those 17,000 men have reached the age of 100. 

Of course, a large number of those 17,000 are still living, and some of those men will undoubtedly reach the 100-year plateau in the next few decades.  However, there are only 17 known ex-ballplayers who celebrated their 100th birthdays.

The centenarian ballplayers are:

Chester (Red) Hoff, 107 (May 8, 1891 - August 12, 1998).  Hoff pitched for the New York Yankees from 1911 to 1913 and for the St. Louis Browns in 1915.  He won only two games and lost four of the 23 games in which he appeared.

Bob Wright, 101 (December 13, 1891 - July 30, 1993).  He pitched in two games for the Chicago Cubs in 1915, allowing two runs and six hits in four innings pitched.

Karl Swanson, 101 (December 17, 1900 - April 3, 2002).  He played second base for the White Sox in 1928-29, batting .138 in 24 games. Some sources, however, give his year of birth as 1903.

Johnny Daley, 101 (May 25, 1887 - August 31, 1988).  Daley, a shortstop, batted .173 in 17 games for the Browns in 1912.

Bill Otis, 100 (December 24, 1889 - December 15, 1990).  He played four games in the outfield for the Yankees in 1912, with one single in 20 times at bat.  He was, briefly, a teammate of Red Hoff.

Milt Gaston, 100 (January 27, 1896 - April 26, 1996).  Gaston was probably the best pitcher among the centenarians, winning 97 games and losing 164 for bad teams (Browns, Red Sox, and White Sox) from 1924 to 1934.

Ralph Miller, 100 (March 15, 1873 - May 8, 1973).  Miller, baseball's first centenarian, was a pitcher who posted a 4-14 record for Brooklyn in 1898 and a 1-3 mark for the Baltimore Orioles in 1899.

Ed Gill, 100 (August 7, 1895 - October 10, 1995).  Gill pitched in 16 games for the Senators in 1919, with a 1-1 record.

Charlie Emig, 100 (April 4, 1875 - October 2, 1975).  He pitched one game for the National League's Louisville Colonels on September 4, 1896.  Emig gave up 17 runs in eight innings and took the loss, and never appeared in the major leagues again.  He was the last living 19th-century major leaguer.

Ralph Erickson, 100 (June 25, 1902 - June 27, 2002).  He pitched in 8 games, all in relief, for the Pirates in 1929 and 1930 with a 1-0 record. He became baseball's 10th member of the 100-year-old club on June 25, 2002, and passed away two days later.

Ray Cunningham, 100 (January 17, 1905 - July 31, 2005).  A third baseman, Cunningham played in 14 games for the Cardinals in 1931 and 1932, batting .154.  He was living in a nursing home in Pearland, Texas at the time of his death.

Howard (Howdy) Groskloss, 100 (April 9, 1906 - July 15, 2006).  Groskloss played second base for the Pirates from 1930 to 1932, then quit baseball and went to medical school.  He was a respected doctor and surgeon who retired to Florida in 1979 and was the oldest living ex-player for nearly a year.

Rollie Stiles, 100 (November 17, 1906 - July 22, 2007).  Stiles, who pitched for the St. Louis Browns from 1930 to 1933, remained in the St. Louis area after his baseball career ended.  

Bill Werber, 100 (June 20, 1908 - January 22, 2009).  He led the American League in stolen bases three times, then starred at third base for the pennant-winning Reds of 1939 and 1940.  His Cincinnati infield mate, Lonny Frey, lived to age 99.

Tony Malinosky, 101 (October 5, 1909 - February 8, 2011).  Malinosky was an infielder who appeared in 35 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937.  He batted only .228, with a slugging percentage of .253, and never made it back to the majors after that.

Connie Marrero, 100 (April 25, 1911 - still living).  A great pitcher in his native Cuba, Marrero was 39 years old when he joined the Washington Senators in 1950. He pitched for the Senators until 1954, and is now baseball's oldest living player. 

Clarence (Ace) Parker (May 17, 1912 - still living).  A college football star at Duke, Parker played 94 games as an infielder for the Philadelphia A's in 1937 and 1938, but then left baseball behind and joined the National Football League.  One of the great passing tailbacks of his time, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.  He batted only .179 for the A's, so his decision to shift to football was probably a good one.

Note: there won't be any more for a while.  The next oldest living player after Parker and Marrero was born in 1915.

And, don't forget:

Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, 103 (July 7, 1902 - August 11, 2005).  He was believed to be the oldest living star of the old Negro Leagues (before Si Simmons was discovered).  Radcliffe played for the Homestead Grays and other teams from 1928 to 1950.  He got his nickname for catching one end of a doubleheader and pitching the other.

Si Simmons, 111 (October 14, 1895 - October 29, 2006).  Simmons was the oldest old ballplayer of all time, black or white, and at the time of his death was the fifth-oldest man in the United States.  He played for several Negro League and pre-Negro League teams from 1913 to 1929.  

Emilio Navarro, 105 (September 26, 1905 - April 30, 2011).  The first Puerto Rican to appear in the Negro Leagues, he played for the Cuban Stars in 1928 and 1929, and his career in Puerto Rico spanned more than 20 seasons.

Seven other major leaguers came very close to the 100 year mark:

William (Dummy) Hoy, 99 (May 23, 1862 - December 15, 1961).  Hoy, a deaf mute from Houcktown, Ohio, was an excellent leadoff man from 1888 to 1902, batting .291 in 1,795 games.  At the age of 99, he threw out the first ball at Game 3 of the 1961 World Series in Cincinnati.

Lou Polli, 99 (July 9, 1901 - December 19, 2000).  Polli pitched briefly for the Browns in 1932 and the Yankees in 1944, with an 0-2 record and three saves in 24 games.

John Hollinson, 99 (May 3, 1870 - August 19, 1969).  This left-handed pitcher appeared in one game for Cap Anson's Chicago Colts (now called the Cubs) on August 13, 1892. He pitched four innings and allowed only one hit, a home run, and didn't get a decision. He also struck out in all of his three trips to the plate that day.

Paul Hopkins, 99 (September 25, 1904 - January 2, 2004).  Hopkins, a right-hander, pitched in two games for the Senators in 1927 and in seven more for the Senators and Browns in 1929.  He made his debut in Yankee Stadium on September 29, 1927, pitching in relief in a 15-4 loss to the Yankees.  Hopkins gave up Babe Ruth's 59th homer of the season, a grand slam, in that game.  He was the oldest living ex-player at the time of his death.

Ray Berres, 99 (August 31, 1907 - February 1, 2007).  Berres batted .216 as a backup catcher from 1934 to 1945, then coached in the major leagues for many years.  He coached for the pennant-winning White Sox in 1959 under Al Lopez, who lived to age 97, while his colleague Don Gutteridge passed away at 96.

Lonny Frey, 99 (August 23, 1910 - September 13, 2009).  This three-time All-Star played second base for the Cincinnati pennant winners of 1939 and 1940, and played in 1,535 major league games in all with a .269 average.  On that 1940 team, third baseman Bill Werber lived to 100, and reserve infielder Eddie Joost lived to age 94. 

George Cisar, 99 (August 25, 1910 - February 19, 2010).  Cisar batted .207 in 20 games as an outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937.  He and Tony Malinosky (see above) both played for the 1937 Dodgers, but were not teammates; Malinosky played his last game in June, and Cisar did not join the club until September.

Statisticians who deal with longevity and aging issues like to study groups of baseball players, because there is so much information about them.  We not only know a ballplayer's height, weight, birth date, and death date, but we also know a lot of anecdotal info (what he was like, what kind of personality type he had, etc.)  We also have photographic records of ballplayers, so researchers also know about hair color, eye color, and many other minute bits of data.

It appears from the data collected that baseball players live longer than average men in the same age range.  That makes sense, since ballplayers are athletes, and tend to be in better-than-average physical condition.  It seems certain that in the next few decades, many other old ballplayers will join these 16 men in the ranks of centenarians.