MLB History: Honoring the MLB Players Who Died in 2020

We write today to honor those MLB players who died in 2020. We write today to honor those MLB players who died in 2020. These men were all an integral part of MLB history and will be forever remembered.

This was a tough year for all of us, in many ways, with a pandemic, chaos, unrest, and a brutal election. Lost in all of this commotion and turmoil was the fact that over 100 MLB players, part of a rich MLB History, passed away in 2020. These are men who played our national pastime at the highest level. It would not be proper or right to celebrate the New Year without honoring these MLB players who died in 2020.

MLB History: Baseball Deaths

The Players We Lost in 2020: The List

Overall, the list of MLB players who died in 2020 extends to 108 names. While we would love to discuss each in detail, that is just not feasible. We do not mean to slight any player in any way. It would be impossible to detail the careers of 108 players in a single article. So we have included a list of all MLB players who died in 2020. In this article, we will chronicle the MLB history surrounding the careers of those who made significant contributions, played for at least ten years, and played sometime in the 1970s at the earliest.

MLB History: Players Who Died in 2020: The Elite:

What part of MLB history couldn’t include a man named Lou Brock? Lou Brock – (born 6/18/39) “Lou” Brock was an outstanding base stealer who played the bulk of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was part of one of the most unforgettable trades in history when the Chicago Cubs traded him to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio.

Brock went on to steal 938 bases in his career, at the time an all-time record. He finished with a career batting average of .293 and scored over 1,600 runs. He went to the All-Star game six times. He retired in 1979 at the age of 40 years old. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. Lou Brock died on September 6th, 2020 at the age of 81.

Whitey Ford (born 10/21/28) “The Chairman of the Board” Ford was a left-handed pitcher who pitched for 16 years, all with the New York Yankees. He missed 1951 and 1952 due to military service. He had a record of 236-106 while compiling an ERA of 2.75. He threw 156 complete games in his career, including 45 shutouts. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1950. Ford went to eight All-Star games and won the Cy Young award in 1961. Ford retired in 1967 at the age of 38. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. Whitey Ford died on October 8th, 2020 at the age of 91.

Also coming up the hard way through MLB history was Bob Gibson. Born 11/9/35, “Gibby” Bob Gibson pitched 17 MLB seasons, all with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was an eight-time All-Star and won two Cy Young awards. He compiled a record of 251-174, with an ERA of 2.91. He had 255 complete games, 56 shutouts, and over 3,000 strikeouts. Gibson was one of the reasons for baseball lowering the mound after the 1968 season. He had an ERA of 1.12, with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts that season. Gibson retired after the 1975 season at the age of 39 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. He died on October 2nd, 2020 at the age of 84.

Also among the MLB players who died in 2020 was Al Kaline (born 12/19/34). “Mr. Tiger” Kaline played 22 seasons, all with the Detroit Tigers. Over the course of his career, he hit .297, with 399 home runs and 1,582 RBIs. He went to the All-Star game 15 times and won 10 Gold Gloves, all as a right fielder. He collected 170 assists as an outfielder, making him one of the best throwing outfielders of his era. Kaline retired in 1974, at the age of 39, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. Al Kaline died on April 6th, 2020, at the age of 85.

Don Larsen (not in the HOF) Don Larsen is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his iconic perfect game in the 1956 Worlds Series is one of the singular defining moments of the 1950s. So, we have chosen to include his perfect game here, as a moment for the ages.

Joe Morgan (born 9/19/43) “Little Joe” Morgan played a total of 22 MLB seasons, mostly with the Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds. He was an on-field leader of The Big Red Machine, the Reds who dominated the National League in the 70s. Morgan won back to back MVP’s in 1975 and 76, leading the Reds to a World Series in both seasons.

Over his career, he went to 10 All-Star games, won five Gold Gloves, and a Silver Slugger. He also stole 689 bases and scored 1,650 runs. Joe Morgan retired after the 1984 season and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. He died on October 11th, 2020 at the age of 77.

Phil Niekro (born 4/1/39) “Knucksie” Niekro was the pre-eminent knuckleballer of his time. He pitched 24 seasons, mostly with the Atlanta Braves, He also pitched for the Indians, Blue Jays, and Yankees. Over his career, Niekro went 318-274, throwing 245 complete games, and 45 shutouts. Niekro finished with a career ERA of 3.35. He went to five All-Star games, won five Gold Gloves, and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times. He retired after the 1987 season and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. He died on December 26th, 2020, at the age of 81.

Tom Seaver (born 11/17/44) “Tom Terrific” Seaver pitched for 20 seasons, mostly with the Mets. He also pitched for the Reds, White Sox, and Red Sox. Over his career, Seaver went 311-205, with a career ERA of 2.86. He also threw 231 complete games, including 61 shutouts. Seaver struck out 3.640 batters over his career and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1967. Along the way, Seaver also won three Cy Young awards. Seaver also finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five other times. He retired after the 1986 season and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Tom Seaver died on August 31st, 2020 at the age of 75.

MLB Players Who Died in 2020: Part 2 – A to F

In this section, we pay tribute to those MLB players who died in 2020 who had solid careers and entertained us on the diamond.

Dick Allen (born 3/8/42) “Richie” Allen played 15 MLB seasons and spent time with the Phillies and White Sox. He was NL Rookie of the Year in 1964, and AL MVP in 1972. He went to seven All-Star games and finished his career with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs. Allen retired in June of 1977. He died on December 7th, 2020, at the age of 78.

Glenn Beckert (born 10/12/40) Glenn Beckert played 11 seasons with the Cubs, all as a second baseman. He led the National League in runs scored in 1968 with 98 runs. He went to four All-Star games and won a Gold Glove. Beckert retired in April of 1975. He died on April 12, 2020.

Horace Clarke (born 6/2/39) “Hoss” Clarke played 10 years in the Majors, all but one with the Yankees. He was an infielder all of his career. He had a career batting average of .256 and also stole 151 bases. He hit a career-high .285 in 1969 and retired in September of 1974. Clarke died on August 5, 2020, at the age of 81.

Ed Farmer (born 10/18/49) “Farmio” Farmer was a reliever who pitched in 11 MLB seasons with the Phillies, White Sox, Indians, and A’s. He appeared in 370 games over his career and compiled 45 saves. He went to the All-Star game in 1980. Farmer also spent almost 30 years in the White Sox radio booth. He retired after the 1983 season and died on April 1st, 2020.

Tony Fernandez (born 6/30/62) “Cabeza” Fernandez played 17 seasons in MLB, mainly with the Blue Jays. Known for his slick-fielding, he won four Gold Gloves and went to five All-Star games. He collected 2,276 hits and scored 1,057 runs in his career. Fernandez also stole 246 bases and retired after the 2001 season. He died on February 16th, 2020, at the age of 57.

MLB Players Who Died in 2020: Part 2 – G to P

Damaso Garcia (born 2/7/57) Garcia played 11 years in the Majors, mainly with the Blue Jays. He appeared in over 1,000 games, primarily as an infielder. He went to two All-Star games, finishing his career with a batting average of .283. Garcia retired in September 1989. He died on April 15, 2020, at the age of 63.

Jay Johnstone (born 11/20/45) Johnstone played in 20 MLB seasons with various teams, primarily as an outfielder. Known for his engaging wit and humor, he appeared in over 1,700 games. Johnstone’s most productive season was in 1977 when he hit .284, with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs. He retired after the 1985 season. He died on September 26th, 2020, at the age of 74.

Lindy McDaniel (born 12/13/35) McDaniel pitched in 21 MLB seasons with various teams. He appeared in 987 games and was known as one of the most reliable relievers in the game. He recorded 174 saves and went to the All-Star Game in 1960. McDaniel retired in September 1975 and died on November 14th, 2020, at the age of 84.

Denis Menke (born 7/21/40) “Menk” Menke played in 13 seasons, mainly with the Braves and Astros. He went to the All-Star game in 1969 and 1970. His most productive season was 1970, when he hit .304, with 13 home runs and 92 RBIs. Menke retired in July 1974 and died on December 1st, 2020.

Don Pavletich (born 7/13/38) Pavletich played in 12 MLB seasons, mostly with the Reds. He spent most of his career as a catcher and first baseman. He was a career .254 hitter, and had his best season in 1966, hitting .294 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. He retired in September 1971 and died on March 5th, 2020, at the age of 81.

Ron Perranoski (born 4/1/36) Perranoski pitched in 13 MLB seasons, primarily with the Dodgers and Twins. He appeared in 737 games and collected 178 saves. He also finished with a career ERA of 2.79. Perranoski retired in June 1973 and died on October 2, 2020, at the age of 84.

Biff Pocoroba (born 7/25/53) Pocoroba played 10 MLB seasons all with the Braves. He spent his career as a catcher. He had his most productive season in 1977, when he hit .290, with 8 home runs and 44 RBIs. He also went to the All-Star game in 1978. Pocoroba retired in April 1984 and died on May 24th, 2020, at the age of 66.

MLB Players Who Died in 2020: Part 2 – T to W

Tony Taylor (born 12/19/35) Taylor played in 19 MLB seasons with the Phillies and Tigers. He appeared in 2,195 games, scored 1,005 runs, and stole 239 bases. Taylor finished with a .261 batting average. He went to the All-Star game in 1960 and retired after the 1976 season. He died on July 16th, 2020, at the age of 84.

Claudell Washington (born 8/31/54) Washington played in 17 MLB seasons with various teams, as an outfielder. He appeared in over 1,900 games and finished with a career batting average of .278. He collected 1,884 hits and 312 stolen bases. Washington went to two All-Star games and retired in June 1990. Washington died on June 10th, 2020, at the age of 65.

Bob Watson (born 4/10/46) “Bull” Watson played in 19 MLB seasons with the Astros, Yankees, and Braves. He was a career .295 hitter and finished with 1,826 hits and 989 RBIs. He is credited with scoring MLB’s 1,000,000th run. He also worked in MLB headquarters after his playing career ended. Watson retired after the 1974 season and died on May 14th,2020.

Jimmy Wynn (born 3/12/42) “The Toy Cannon” Wynn played in 15 MLB seasons, mainly with the Astros. He was an outfielder with huge power. He collected 1,665 hits, along with 291 home runs and 964 RBIs. Wynn also stole 225 bases during his career. He retired after the 1977 season and died on March 26th, 2020, at the age of 78.

MLB Players Who Died in 2020: Epilogue

It is always hard to say goodbye to those who have touched our lives in one way or another. That can be especially challenging for serious baseball fans who live and die with every pitch. Perhaps in 2020, with all that is going on, fans are especially saddened as they remember the former greats of the game they love.

Yet, when remembering these MLB players, fans can look back at the memories of the stars they used to love to watch play the great game of baseball. Those are memories that time can never take from us. The sport of baseball has an enduring quality that holds the attention of fans for a lifetime.

Hopefully, readers will see a name or two that brings a smile to their face, as they recall their own memories. For now, we pay our reverence and humble respect, in this bittersweet moment, to those MLB players who died in 2020. Thanks for the memories.

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main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Mike Fisk
Mike Fisk is a lifelong baseball fan. For him, there is nothing like being at a baseball game, with the sights, the sounds, the smells. Writing about baseball is a bonus!

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