There has been plenty of attention paid to what has felt like a higher-than-normal number of deaths in what has been a brutal 2016 for celebrities and their respective fans. The sports world was not spared either, as big names like Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Craig Sager, and Jose Fernandez left us too soon.
The Cleveland Indians organization was not exempt from losing former friends of the feather. In their honor, we remember some of those who spent time affiliated with the city of Cleveland and its beloved baseball team who hung up their cleats one final time in 2016.
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b. 12/19/1943 – d. 1/23/2016
“No Neck” Williams joined his fourth Major League team when he came over to Cleveland following the 1972 season in a trade from the Chicago White Sox for Eddie Leon. The corner outfielder spent just one season in an Indians uniform, hitting .289 with a career-high eight homers and 38 RBI in 104 games. Prior to the 1974 season, he was dealt to the New York Yankees with Rick Sawyer as part of a three-team trade that sent Jerry Moses from New York to Detroit, Ed Farmer from the Tigers to the Yankees, and pitcher Jim Perry from the Tigers to the Indians.
Williams died of a heart attack at the age of 72 near his hometown of Brownwood, Texas.
b. 8/17/1933 – d. 2/18/2016
Davenport spent his entire 13-year MLB career as a member of the San Francisco Giants and continued on in their organization upon the end of his playing days in 1970 as a coach, a minor league manager, and for part of the 1985 season, a Major League manager. His travels would also take him to San Diego, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, where he was on the coaching staff in 1989. He moved on to Detroit as a scout before returning to San Francisco, where he worked as a first base coach, a minor league manager, and a front office executive through the 2015 season, his 51st with the Giants.
Davenport died at the age of 82 from heart failure in Redwood City, California.
b. 8/4/1946 – d. 2/20/2016
Collins spent parts of six seasons as a utility man with the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, and Detroit Tigers from 1965 to 1971 before he was traded by the Tigers to the Indians in 1973. Just 26 at the time of the trade, he would play 75 games total over the next season and a half with the Indians’ Oklahoma City affiliate before the end of his professional career. He remains the answer to a trivia question regarding the Montreal Expos, as he was the first player to ever hit a pinch-hit home run for the club.
He passed away suddenly at his winter home in Naples, Florida, at the age of 69.
b. 2/11/1941 – d. 5/13/2016
Ellis, a Youngstown native, joined the Indians organization mid-season in 1969, traded to the club by the Chicago White Sox for Jack Hamilton. The right-handed pitcher and former All-Star did not appear at the Major League level with the club and after his half-season in the minors for Cleveland, was on to two more minor league stops over the next two seasons. Following his playing career, he hung on in the game as a coach for the Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Red Sox, Mariners, and Orioles.
He died in Temple Terrrace, Florida, at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer.
b. 6/6/1967 – d. 5/15/2016
Ramos entered the pro game when he signed with the Indians in 1989. After five seasons with the club in the minors, he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1994 season, but the outfielder was later claimed off of waivers by Houston.
He would have his cup of coffee, 14 games and 15 hitless plate appearances total, with the Astros as a 30-year-old rookie in 1997 after parts of five straight seasons at the Triple-A level.
He ended his life at the age of 48 in a murder-suicide involving his wife.
b. 4/10/1946 – d. 6/17/2016
The right-handed Hennigan was a fourth round draft pick by the Indians in the 1966 draft and made his debut in 1969. He spent parts of four seasons in Cleveland, posting a 17-10 record with a 3.91 ERA in 146 games (all but two in relief). He was traded to the New York Mets following the 1972 season for Bob Rauch and Brent Strom.
The 70-year-old Vietnam veteran from his time in the US Army passed at his home in Center, Texas.
b. 8/6/1937 – d. 6/18/2016
Schaffernoth, a right-handed reliever, ended his three-year Major League career with 15 games with the Indians in 1961. He had been purchased in July that season by the Indians from the Chicago Cubs and following the season, he was moved to the Washington Senators in a cash exchange, but a shoulder injury ran his career short.
He passed away at the age of 78 in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, after what was described as a “hard fought battle with cancer”.
b. 8/22/1943 – d. 7/30/2016
Arcia spent a year and a half in the Indians organization in the early stages of his career, moving from the Houston Colt .45’s to the Detroit Tigers to the Indians within his first year in professional ball. He was dealt by the Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals in May of 1964 and the young Cuban ball player would make his Major League debut nearly four years later while with the Chicago Cubs in 1968. He played his final two big league seasons in 1969 and 1970 while working as a utility man for the San Diego Padres.
The 72-year-old passed away in Miami, Florida.
b. 9/25/1945 – d. 8/17/2016
Arlin, a right-handed pitcher out of Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio, and The Ohio State University, was the 13th overall pick in the June Secondary draft in 1966 by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was later drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1968 expansion draft and joined the Indians in June of 1974 for a pair of players. He spent just four months in the Indians rotation, making eleven appearances (ten starts) and going 2-5 with a 6.60 ERA to conclude his professional career.
He practiced dentistry for more than 25 years following his baseball career before retiring from that profession in 2004. He passed away peacefully in San Diego.
b. 12/7/1951 – d. 8/25/2016
Dade was a first round pick by the California Angels out of high school in the 1970 draft. The former tenth overall pick would come to Cleveland as a free agent in February of 1977 and spent two and a half seasons with the club while easily having his best years of his career in an Indians uniform. He was dealt to the San Diego Padres during the 1979 season for a future Cleveland legend, Mike Hargrove.
Dade returned home to the Pacific Northwest following his playing career. He passed away at the age of 64 after a short battle with cancer.
For more on the life of Paul Dade, click here.
b. 4/14/1931 – d. 9/2/2016
Minnick signed with the Indians as an amateur free agent in 1949 and toiled in their farm system through the 1956 season until his release. He was out of baseball in 1952 and 1953 during the Korean War while a member of the United States Military. He would later get a quick taste of the Majors in 1957, when he appeared in two games for the Washington Senators.
He died in Rocky Mount, Virginia, at the age of 85.
b. 4/22/1938 – d. 11/2/2016
Orsino spent time in the minors with the Indians after being acquired on June 12, 1969, in a trade with the New York Yankees for Rob Gardner. It would be his final season of professional ball. Previously, he spent parts of seven seasons in the Majors with the San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Senators while playing catcher and first base. Following his career, he spent parts of two seasons managing in the minors for the Indians in 1977 and 1978.
The 78-year-old passed in November in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
b. 10/21/1916 – d. 11/4/2016
Carnett was 14 days past the century mark when he passed away in November. He broke into the Majors in 1941 as a pitcher with the Boston Braves and, after time back in the minors, returned to the Majors for single seasons as a pitcher, first baseman, and outfielder for the Chicago White Sox in 126 games in 1944 and for the Indians in 30 games in 1945.
He logged a total of 158 career games over his three big league seasons, but spent another ten seasons in the minors and independent leagues after his stint with Cleveland ended.
At the time of his death, he held the title of oldest living Major Leaguer.
b. 2/19/1935 – d. 11/8/2016
Nixon signed with the Indians in 1953 and spent parts of four big league seasons with the club from 1957 to 1960 before he was dealt in two separate trades to the Boston Red Sox (after the first trade was vetoed and the traded players returned to their previous organizations). He spent 12 years in the Majors before he got into coaching and, later, managed for his hometown Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves.
He passed away in November at the age of 81 after a long illness.
For more on the life of Russ Nixon, click here.
b. 9/11/1934 – d. 11/8/2016
Coughtry broke into the Majors with 15 games with the Boston Red Sox in 1960 and made a quick stop in Cleveland two seasons later. He split the 1962 season between the Los Angeles Angels (eleven games), the Kansas City Athletics (six games), and the Indians (three games). In that short career in Cleveland, he was 1-for-2 in three trips to the plate with a walk, a single, and one run batted in. All three of his July games with the Indians came in pinch-hitting roles, stepping in for the pitcher and never once taking the field defensively for the Tribe.
He died in his sleep in Vancouver, Washington, at the age of 82.
b. 7/22/1928 – d. 12/4/2016
Locklin joined the Indians organization in 1949, but stepped away from the game from 1952 to 1954 while serving in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He reached the Majors for 25 games over the 1955 and 1956 seasons for Cleveland in his only MLB appearances. The outfielder hit .167 over his career with three singles and a double in 24 at bats. He was later traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1958.
He passed away peacefully at the age of 88 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
b. 3/28/1949 – d. 12/4/2016
The fictional Cleveland owner that Indians fans would come to love to hate, Whitton played the role of Rachel Phelps in the 1989 classic, Major League. The triumphant turnaround of the lovable losers is so beloved by fans that the movie has become in essence a cult classic among Indians fans, who will watch the movie without pause, able to recite many of the quotable lines of script on command. Whitton’s role as the former showgirl Phelps, intent on moving the struggling franchise to Miami, was one of her most memorable during her time on the big screen or on the stage, where she spent the latter years of her acting and directing career. The role in a baseball movie came naturally for her, as she was an avid baseball fan.
Whitton passed at the age of 66 at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, after a battle with cancer.
For more on the life of Margaret Whitton, click here.
Photo (of Dade): Cleveland Memory Project