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Former major league player turned coach Mitchell Page passed away on Saturday at the age of 59. The cause of death is unknown but Page had long battled alcoholism.
Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973, Page was acquired by the Oakland A’s prior to the 1977 season. When Page arrived in Oakland, the A’s were no longer the team that had won three consecutive World Series with a cast of Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers. A’s owner Charlie Finley just didn’t care anymore and his ballclub was now emerging as one of the worst teams in baseball. Notwithstanding these circumstances, Page had a sensational rookie season hitting .307 with 21 homeruns, 75 RBIs and 42 stolen bases. He would finish runner up in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting to Baltimore Orioles slugger Eddie Murray.
Unlike Murray however, Page did not go on to have a Hall of Fame career. His offensive production steadily declined and the A’s eventually finally gave up on him after the 1983 season. Page returned to the Pirates for a handful of games in 1984. In later years, Page turned to coaching and served as a hitting instructor on both the major league and minor league level. From 2001 to 2004, Page was the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals and was with the team when they won the National League pennant in 2004 only to be swept in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox. He also served in that capacity with the Washington Nationals in 2006 and the early part of the 2007 season. Unfortunately, Page was unable to continue in these roles due to his alcoholism. The Cardinals did give Page another chance last season with their Class A affiliate in Quad Cities but departed only a month into the season.
Mitchell Page was Ben Mankiewicz’s favorite baseball player during his childhood and has written a touching tribute to Page.
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