Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gil McDougald, 1928-2010. R.I.P.

Gil McDougald, who played ten seasons with the New York Yankees, died on Sunday due to prostate cancer. He was 82.

Even though 1951 is remembered as Mickey Mantle's rookie season, it was McDougald who was named AL Rookie of the Year hitting .306. McDougald played in the World Series in eight of his ten big league seasons and was on the winning side on five of those occasions. He was also named to five AL All-Star teams. McDougald was a super utility man who excelled at second base, shortstop and third base.

However, McDougald would retire following the 1960 season at the age of 32. His joy for the game diminished when he hit Cleveland Indians pitching sensation Herb Score in the face with a line drive. Had he stayed in the game he might have had a shot at Cooperstown.

McDougald did coach at Fordham University in the Bronx from 1970 to 1976. However, he largely stayed away from the game after that due to long term hearing loss sustained when he was struck in the head by a baseball during batting practice in the 1955 season. But McDougald's hearing would be significantly restored in 1995 due to cochlear implant surgery. McDougald would become a strong advocate of cochlear implants becoming the unlikeliest of activists.

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