Major League Baseball’s Oldest Player Dies at 101
Tony Malinosky, who died Tuesday in Oxnard, Calif., at the age of 101, was at the time of his death Major League Baseball’s oldest living player. On Oct. 5, 2009, we ran the following story to celebrate Malinosky turning 100:
Tony Malinosky, Major League Baseball’s oldest living player, celebrates his 100th birthday today in Oxnard, California. Malinosky played three months for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937 as a 27-year-old rookie before a knee injury ended his inaugural season on July 16; he never recovered well enough to play in the major leagues again.
In his brief 35-game Major League career, Malinosky only hit .228, managing just 18 hits in his 79 at-bats, but two of those hits were memorable: singles off Hall of Fame pitchers Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell. After his injury, Malinosky toiled one more year in the minors before giving up his dream of being a professional baseball player.
It was a quiet end to a career that barely got started. In the spring of 1937, several newspapers mentioned Malinosky in their pre-season analysis.
The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia) published this article on Feb. 23, 1937:
Every Major League Club but Yanks Being Revised with Rookies Making Bids
Big Time Boys Giving Bush-Loop Babies Breaks in Effort to Build Triumphant Teams for Title-Race; Yankees Favored to Repeat
By Scotty Reston
New York, Feb. 22 (AP)
Practically every major league baseball club except the World Champion New York Yankees is in the process of revision, and rookies from even the wildest bush leagues are given a chance to crash the big time.
As players migrate southward this week, a quick survey reveals the following:
Brooklyn Dodgers: Desperately in need of talent. Men with unimpressive minor league records are being tried out. Promising are Pitchers Luke Hamlin, Harry Eisenstat, and Walt Signor; Infielder Tony Malinosky; and Outfielders Eddie Morgan and Johnny Winset, both from Columbus.
This was the review the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) published on March 15, 1937:
1937 Baseball Rookie Parade
Up to the Majors from American Association Come 42 Players for Tryouts
Chicago, March 11 (AP)
Forty-two players’ work in the 1936 American Association pennant chase merited them trials with Major League clubs this spring.
Pacing the seven recalled infielders with the stick was Gil English of Toledo with .335. Rudy York of Milwaukee was one point behind, followed by Russell Peters of Columbus, .314; Tony Malinosky of Louisville, .305…Malinosky, after being returned to the Pirates, was sold to the Dodgers, where he will work for his old Louisville manager, Burleigh Grimes.
Four days later the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) published on March 19, 1937, an in-depth review of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ upcoming season, again mentioning Malinosky:
Grimes Faces Real Problem
Has Little in Way of Material for the Dodger Team
Clearwater, Fla., March 19 (AP)
It looks like Brooklyn will be stuck in the mud of the second division for the 16th time in 17 years.
Although Burleigh Grimes, successor to the charitable Casey Stengel as helmsman of the Flatbush crew, has improved the club on paper with two shrewd deals, the team rates only an outside chance to land in the upper bracket when the line forms at the pay-off window late in September.
Led by Van Lingle Mungo, the fire ball ace, the Dodgers should have one of the strongest pitching staffs in the majors, but the rest of the lineup is disjointed and studded with question marks. Punch and better fielding shape as the two greatest shortcomings.
“We’ve got a flock of ifs on the club,” says Grimes. “But I’ll hustle in at least 10 more games on the right side of the won and lost column anyway. We’ve got a chance to cause a lot of trouble and if all the boys come through there’s no telling what we might do.”
...The infield should be an improvement over last year…The shortstop job is open to either Woody English, another bench warmer from the Cubs, or Tony Malinosky, of Louisville.
Malinosky’s last attempt at professional baseball, the year after his knee injury, did not go well. He played for four minor league teams in 1938 and only batted .190. While playing for one of those teams, the Houston Buffaloes, Malinosky’s frustration apparently boiled over and he quit the team. The Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas) carried the story on July 14, 1938:
The Sport Broadcast
By George White
The current Texas League baseball season should be entered on the books as some kind of a record-breaker in the production of extraordinary or novel happenings. Pending a complete checkup, it is almost safe to state that it has broken all previous marks in the traffic in players, the changes in personnel being so constant all over the circuit that it has been necessary to give the home fans formal introductions to the new hands after every road trip.
Among other things, the Houston club turned up Wednesday minus one of its infielders, who has jumped the team and in so doing presented a new problem for Branch Rickey, the brains of the Cardinal organization.
Without appearing previously to be at all discontented, Tony Malinosky disappeared, leaving a note behind for President Ankenman.
“Tell Mr. Rickey,” he wrote, “he ought to include some sports writers in his next shipment of talent to Houston. That’s what this club needs more than ballplayers. The guys on those papers would ruin Joe DiMaggio and Johnny Vander Meer.”
Ankenman wasn’t mourning the loss of Malinosky, however. He described the player as an eccentric fellow who won’t be missed if Red Davis is able to stay in the lineup. But Tony’s recommendation may give Branch something to think about.
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