Mar 22, 2009

Baseball Players of the Seventies Who Died During their Playing Careers

ROBERTO CLEMENTE is 3000 hit Hall of Famer and one of the most famous players to have died tragically while still active. He was the 1966 NL MVP & won four batting titles in the sixties. He made the All Star team 12 times & won 12 gold gloves in right field. He was MVP of the 1971 World Series, playing great outfield and batting over .400 in the Series with a home run in the deciding 7th game. He got his 3000th hit on the last day of the 1972 season off Mets pitcher Jon Matlack. He did play in the 1972 NLCS & his last game was Game #5 in Cincinnati. He ended his career with a .317 batting average, 240 HRs, 1305 RBIs, 440 doubles, 166 triples, & 1416 runs scored.

On Christmas week of 1972 Nicaragua suffered an earthquake. Clemente soon sent over three airplane supplies of relief for the quake victims. He found out the aid packages never made it to the victims due to the corrupt government. He decided to accompany the relief supplies on a fourth flight making sure they got to the victime. He chartered a DC-7 plane that was known for mechanical problems, sub par person ell and was over loaded by 5000 lbs. The plane crashed immediately after take off into the ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico on New Years Eve.

Sadly Clemente's body was never recovered and the only personal item was an empty brief case belonging to him. The pilots body & fuselage were found a few days later. All members of the 1972 Pirates attended his funeral, except best friend Manny Sanguillen who instead chose to help the divers recover his body. Clemente was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election, and his #21 was retired by the Pirates.

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1973, the Roberto Clemente is awarded each year to a player who does exceptional charity work, various parks & bridges are named after him throughout the world. The right field was at Pittsburgh's PNC park is 21 feet high in his honor.
BOB MOOSE: Moose was born October 9th 1947 in Export Pennsylvania. The six foot right hander came up to the big leagues at the age of 20, as a starter & reliever. He pitched his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates during their early 70's hey days. He had the best won/loss percentage in the league in 1969 going 14-3 with a 2.91 ERA, 165 strike outs, 4 saves & threw a no hitter against the Champion Mets.

He pitched in three straight NLCS from 1970-1972. In the 1971 World Series he pitched in three games (1 start-no decisions) but was hit hard by the Orioles giving up 12 hits, & 7 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched. In the 9th inning of Game #5 of the 1972 NLCS against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, Pirate closer Dave Gusti gave up a game tying home run to Johnny Bench. Two more singles brought in Bob Moose who had pitched Game #2 for relief. He retired the first two batters he faced, then with Rookie George Foster pinch running at third base he threw a wild pitch that allowed Foster to score the winning run. The Pirates missed their second consecutive World Series by one out, and the Reds advanced losing to the Oakland A's.

Moose never seemed to recover as he went 18-29 over the next four seasons, mostly in relief. He did have 10 saves in his 1976 season.

On his 29th birthday, October 9th 1976 Moose was on his way to former Pirate team mate Bill Mazeroski's golf course in Martin's Ferry Ohio. He was tragically killed in a car accident. In his career he went 76-71 with a 3.50 ERA & 10 saves.

DON WILSON was born February 12th, 1945 in Monroe, Louisiana. He made his debut in 1966 with the Houston Colt 45s. He was a hard throwing strikeout pitcher and one of the better pitchers of his era. He won 15 games or more four times in his eight year career. He was amongst the league leaders in strikeouts, ERA & complete games during those years, and his some times wildness also put him tops in wild pitches & hit batters.

In June of 1967 he threw a 2-0 no hitter against the Atlanta Braves, striking out Hank Aaron for the final out. Wilson threw another no hitter in 1969, the day after Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Maloney no hit Wilson’s Astros. It was only the 2nd time in MLB history this 2 no hitteres were thrown back to back. He finished the year with 16 wins and 235 strike outs (4th in the NL) in 225 innings pitched. In 1974 he had a third no hitter going into the 8th inning, but trailing 2-1, when he was removed for a pinch hitter by manager Preston Gomez.
On July 14th 1968 he struck out 18 Reds to tie what was a record at the time & still an Astros single game mark. Two months later he had a 16 strikeout game as well. In 1970 his 11-6 record was amongst the top winning percentages in the league.

In 1971 he made his 1st All Star team, pitching 2 hitless innings in the classic. Wilson was 3rd in the NL in ERA (2.41), 5th in complete games (15) & allowed the fewest hits per nine innings. He won 16 and struck out 180 batters. In a game against the Phillies he bunted toward short stop Larry Bowa who broke the opposite way and Wilson, got a rare bunt double. He closed out the season with a two hit shutout against the Braves.

In 1972 he again was in the top 10 in wins, strikeouts, ERA, complete games & wild pitches. Over the next two seasons he won 11 games each year, but had more losses, while posting low ERAs.

In January 1975 Wilson was found dead in the passenger seat of his Ford Thunderbird in his garage at his Houston home. The engine was running, the garage door was open, his legs crossed over & he had a pack of cigarettes on the dash. The cause of death was carbon dioxide poisoning, most likely a suicide.

Sadly his children’s bedrooms were above the garage and his children also suffered from carbon monoxide pioning. His five year old son was also found dead, & his nine year old daughter fell into a coma. His wife survived the ordeal and was met at the hospital by Astros pitcher Dave Roberts. Wilsons #40 is retired by the Astros.
LYMAN BOSTOCK was born November 22, 1950 in Birmingham Alabama, his father was a retired Negro League player. He was drafted by the Twins in 1972 & brought up in 1975 when he hit ,282. He learned from team mate Rod Carew & batted over .320 in 1976 & 1977. His best season was 1977 when he hit .336 (2nd in the AL) 14 HRs -90 RBIs -36 doubles (4TH)199 hits & scored 104 runs (4th in the AL) runs. He signed on with the California Angels as a free agent in 1978. That year he batted .296 with 71 RBIs. No doubt he was one of the top players in the game with a bright future ahead of him.

On September 23, 1978, Bostock visited his uncle in Gary, Indiana. They had dinner with a childhood friend, & her sister Barbara Smith. Bostock and his uncle were dropping the women off and Smiths estranged husband, followed the car to an intersection. He assumed the two were having an affair, his wife had a history of cheating. He pulled alongside the car & fired a shot gun into the back seat. Bostock was hit in the head & died a few hours later at the age of 27.

The killer was deemed insane & after seven months cured and freed. He only manged to serve a total of 271 months time. The laws were changed after Bostocks case so a person would still be guilty even if no longer insane.
DANNY THOMPSON: was born February 1, 1947 in Witchita, Kansas. He played shortstop for the Twins from 1970-1976, seeing over 100 games of action each year from 1972 on. In the 1970 ALCS vs. Baltimore he went 1-8. In 1972 Thompson batted .276 with 48 RBIs, playing in 144 games, the most in his career. That year he came in the top 10 in hits, triples, singles, at bats & sacrafice hits. In 1975 he led all AL shortstops with a .270 batting average.

Thompson was diagnosed with leukemia before the 1974 s
eason but continued to fight & play for the next three seasons.He won the Hutch Award in 1974, the award is given out each year for the player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire to win. On June 1st, 1976 he was involved in a big trade with the Texas Rangers. Thompson & Bert Blyleven were sent to Texas for Bill Singer, Roy Smalley, Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon, and $250,000. Overall Thompson would play in 98 games in 1976 batting .222. His last game at short stop was in Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota.

He passed away on December 10th 1976 at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota at the age of 29.He left behind a wife & two small daughters. A golf tournament in his name was started by former team mate, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

MIKE MILEY: Miley was born March 30, 1953 in Yazoo City, MS. A college football star who was LSU's starting quarterback in 1973. He played in the 1974 Orange Bowl, losing 16-9 to Penn State. The Angels chose him as their #1 draft pick in 1974. He played 70 games at short stop in 1975, driving in 26 runs with 4 HRs but only hit .174. In 1976 he only played in 14 games still batting under .200. He died in a car accident in Baton Rouge, LA on January 6, 1977 at age 23. A Stadium & street are named after him in Louisiana.

On News Years Day 1977, former Met pitcher Danny Frisella was riding his dune buggy near Phoenix, Arizona. The vehicle overturned and caused irriversable head injuries. The accident ended Dannys life at the age of thirty. He left behind a pregnant wife, who gave birth to their 2nd son on what would have been Frisellas 31st birthday. (see Danny Frisella on the 12/29/08 Met of the Day profile)

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