Former big league outfielder Matty Alou passed away today at the age of 72. His cause of death has not been released.
Alou broke into the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants in 1960. Two years later, Alou played with the NL champion Giants who took the New York Yankees to the limit in the World Series until Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson in Game 7.
On September 15, 1963, Alou made history along with his older brother Felipe and his younger brother Jesus becoming the first and only set of brothers to play all three outfield positions in a game. During a 13-5 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey exited the game and in came Matty to play left field, in came Jesus to play right field while Felipe moved from left to center.
Interestingly, the Giants would trade Alou to the Pirates for catcher Ozzie Virgil prior to the 1966 season. It was in Pittsburgh where Alou enjoyed the best years of his career winning the NL batting title in ’66 with a .342 batting average. Who finished in second? Felipe who hit .327 during the Braves inaugural season in Atlanta. Although Matty never won another batting title, he did finish in the top five in the NL for the next three seasons. In 1969, the middle Alou brother led the NL in hits with 231.
Alou played on a Pirates team which included the likes of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Al Oliver. Unfortunately for Alou, he did not get a chance to share in the Bucs World Series championship season in 1971 as he dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Nelson Briles and outfielder Vic Davalillo prior to the ’71 season. But the Cardinals would deal Alou to the Oakland A’s late in the 1972 season and earned his only World Series ring that fall.
Alou split the 1973 season with the Yankees and Cardinals and part of the 1974 with the San Diego Padres. After Alou was released by the Padres, he went to Japan and played there until 1976 before returning to his native Dominican Republic to manage Leones del Escogido, a team in the Dominican Winter League with which the Alou family has had a long association.