Two former big leaguers from the 1950s and 1960s have passed away. Former All-Star catcher Gus Triandos passed away on March 28th of congestive heart failure while former Cy Young Award winner Bob Turley passed away today of liver cancer. Both men were 82. Both men were also traded for each other.
Triandos was originally signed by the New York Yankees prior to the 1948 season as a catcher. But with Yogi Berra firmly enconsed behind the plate, Triandos did not reach the majors until 1953 and only played a handful of games with the Bronx Bombers before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 1955 season. The Yankees would get Turley as well as Don Larsen who would attain World Series perfection the following year. Triandos would also taste perfection catching future Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s perfecto for the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Mets on Father’s Day in 1964. Triandos also caught knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm’s 1958 no-hitter against the New York Yankees.
In Baltimore, Triandos got the opportunity to play everyday and by the late 1950s Triandos had surpassed Berra in the catching department. Triandos was named to the AL All-Star Game four times between 1957 and 1959 including twice in ’59 when there were two mid-season classics. Triandos best overall season came in 1958 when he hit a career high 30 home runs. Between 1963 and 1965, Triandos spent the final years of his career with the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros. Triandos finished his career with 167 home runs.
In 1960, Triandos participated in the short lived TV show Home Run Derby. It featured the premier power hitters of the era – Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks…and Gus Triandos. Well, they did need a catcher. Here he is battling Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Dick Stuart (a.ka. Dr. Strangeglove). Although Triandos lost, he did receive $1,000 for his troubles.
Bob Turley began his big league career with the St. Louis Browns in 1951. He moved with the team to Baltimore in 1954. In fact, he pitched the opening game in Baltimore. This distinction was enough to earn him a spot as a mystery guest on It’s News to Me hosted by Walter Cronkite in which Turley would stump the panel.
In his only season in an Orioles uniform, “Bullet Bob” would lead the AL in both strikeouts and walks (185 and 181, respectively). Turley was sent to the Yankees in 1955 in a trade involving Triandos. He would reach the zenith of his career in 1958 when he led the AL in wins (21) and complete games (19) en route to winning the Cy Young Award. At that time, there was one Cy Young for both the AL and NL. Interestingly, Turley also led the league in walks with 128. But he would also earn the second of four World Series rings with the Yankees and was named World Series MVP. Turley made four appearances against the Milwaukee Braves going 2-1 over 16 and a third innings.
However, Turley would never regain his Cy Young form. Between 1959 and 1963, Turley went 29-44. He split his final big league season between the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox. Turley finished his career with 101 wins.
Here is Turley in a 2011 interview reminiscing about the 1958 World Series.
RIP to both gentlemen.