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Big League Stew

In Memoriam: The baseball men we lost in 2012

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Though writing obituaries is never a fun or happy task, the Big League Stew crew tries our best to place the achievements of the departed in an appropriate and final place. We've listed excerpts from a few of our 2012 memorials below, while Baseball Almanac has the whole list of baseball-related deaths from the year just past. May these men rest in peace.

Gary Carter, Hall of Fame catcher — Feb. 16 at age 57

Gary Carter just loved baseball so much. Someone gave him the nickname "The Kid" because he wore his joy and enthusiasm for the game on the sleeves of his uniforms. The Montreal Expos. The New York Mets. The San Francisco Giants. The Los Angeles Dodgers. And Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he was the head coach. No matter where he was or what he was doing, it was obvious that Carter was in love with baseball.  — David Brown

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Johnny Pesky, Boston Red Sox legend — Aug. 13 at age 92

Pesky's Red Sox legend will live on, both in the number of fans he made and in the right-field foul pole at Fenway. Standing only 302 feet from home plate, it was officially christened as "Pesky's Pole" by the team in 2006 but got its name from Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell many years before that. As the story goes, Pesky — who stood 5-foot-9 and only hit 17 homers in his career — saved Parnell from a loss with a late-inning homer that clanged off the pole. Attempts to corroborate that story later proved Parnell's memory a little short of sharp — such a home run never happened — but it speaks to Pesky's place in Red Sox history that they'll be calling it Pesky's Pole as long as there is a team known as the Boston Red Sox. — Kevin Kaduk

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Marvin Miller, labor leader — Nov. 27 at age 95

Try naming the most influential people in baseball history. Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Ban Johnson, Branch Rickey, Curt Flood — whomever you got. If your list is longer than five names and doesn't have Marvin Miller on it, whip out an eraser and try again ... Baseball might be a game to you and me, but it's real-life to those who play and run it. Fans understandably bemoan high salaries, the arrogance of some players, the loss of games due to work stoppages, and all of the other messy intrusions Miller's presence helped bring to their favorite sport. And yet, they would be fools to not want Marvin Miller fighting for them, too.

Someday, perhaps, Miller will find himself in baseball's Hall of Fame alongside many of the owners whom he regularly beat. — D.B.

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Bill "Moose" Skowron, Yankees/White Sox first baseman — April 27 at age 81

Moose was a friendly and funny man with a buzz haircut and a squeaky, Chicago-accented voice who could tell legendary stories about everyone from Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin to Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Skowron played in seven World Series as a first baseman with the Yankees during one of their golden eras. He wasn't quite as good, or as famous, as Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, but he was just as much of a Yankee as all of them. — D.B.

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Mel Parnell, Boston Red Sox pitcher — March 20 at age 89

Parnell's single greatest season is perhaps one of the best in the history of the Red Sox. In 1949, at the age of 27, Parnell would post a 25-7 record with a 2.77 ERA. Of his 33 starts, Parnell would collect an amazing 27 complete games and four shutouts, which is saying a lot considering he would strike out only 122 batters over the course of 295.1 innings pitched. Again disproving the notion that left-handers cannot have success in Fenway Park, Parnell would surrender only eight home runs during the 1949 season. And just for safe measure, he tossed in two saves. — Kyle Fragnoli, Yahoo Contributor Network

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Pascual Perez, pitcher — Oct. 31 at age 55

A brother to Melido Perez and Carlos Perez, both of whom also had substantial major-league careers, Pascual Perez could follow a 95 mph fastball with a sleepy eephus pitch — just for fun. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 162 pounds, Perez was all arms and legs on the mound with a Jheri curl mullet hairdo on top. His starts were must-see TV in the Superstation TBS days. A teammate of Dale Murphy and Bob Horner on the very good Braves teams of the early 1980s, Perez made an All-Star appearance at Comiskey Park in 1983 but experienced only fleeting success in the majors. He had a 3.44 ERA (better than average for his times) with 822 strikeouts in 193 career starts. He had a drug problem that cost him some jobs and other physical problems with his shoulder and he also had a reputation for ... losing concentration. — D.B.

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Lee MacPhail, Hall of Fame executive — Nov. 8 at age 95

To say Lee MacPhail saw and did it all during his career might be an understatement. That career began as an employee of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1940s. By the end of the decade, MacPhail had joined his father, Larry, who now co-owned the New York Yankees as their farm director. After playing his part in the Yankees seven world championships over the next decade, he moved on to a new challenge with the Baltimore Orioles, first as their general manager, and in later years their team president. In 1974, MacPhail left the front office for good after he was voted American League president. — Mark Townsend

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Frank Pastore, Cincinnati Reds pitcher — Dec. 17 at age 55

If you collected baseball cards in the early 1980s like I did, you knew who Frank Pastore was. A second-round pick in 1975, Pastore was a 22-year-old rookie four years later when he started Game 2 of the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Standing 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds, Pastore limited Pittsburgh to two runs over seven innings. The Bucs won in extras — Pastore didn't get a decision — and Cincy fell in a three-game sweep. It would be the final postseason hurrah for the remaining members of the Big Red Machine — players such as Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster and Dave Concepcion. — D.B.

Other notable deaths: Eddie Yost, Pedro Borbon, Champ Summers, Kevin Hickey, Dave May, Jerry Lynch.

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