Courtesy of the St. Louis Post-DispatchBy Keith Schildroth
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
To hear teammates and the opposition tell the story, former St. Louis Browns outfielder Jim Delsing was much more than the answer to a trivia question and part of one of the more bizzare events in the history of baseball.
Delsing, who spent 10 seasons in the big leagues, including more than two seasons with the Browns, died Thursday (May 4, 2006) at his home in Chesterfield from complications of cancer. He was 80.
He was born and raised in Rudolph, Wis., and signed a pro contract as a shortstop at age 16 in 1942 with Green Bay of the Wisconsin State League. After five seasons in the minor leagues, Delsing joined the Chicago White Sox in 1948 and played 20 games.
Delsing went to the minors before being traded to the New York Yankees in 1949. The club traded him to the Browns on June 15, 1950.
Delsing played 69 games for the Browns in 1950 and finished with a .263 batting average. His play in center field was consistent, and he finished with a .994 fielding percentage.
"He was just a good all-around ballplayer," said former Browns and Washington Senators star Roy Sievers. "Jim was a very good outfielder."
Delsing became part of one of the more colorful tales of baseball when the Browns met Detroit in a doubleheader at Sportsman's Park on Aug. 19, 1951. St. Louis owner Bill Veeck had signed midget Eddie Gaedel to play in the second game. After Tigers pitcher Bob "Sugar" Cain walked pinch hitter Gaedel on four pitches, Browns manager Zack Taylor sent Delsing in to pinch run.
Delsing once said: "It was just a three-ring circus, with a couple of rings missing."
"Why they (fans) remember that more than anything, I don't know," said former teammate Don Lenhardt. "Jim was a good teammate to have on your ballclub. He was a very good fielder and a good ballplayer. I've known him for over 50 years, and we became very good friends."
Delsing was traded to Detroit in 1952, and in '53 he had a career year with 62 RBIs, 11 home runs and a .288 batting average. His play in the field again was spectacular from 1953-55. He committed only two errors in 1954-55 and compiled a .996 fielding percentage in 1954.
Later in life, Delsing worked for more than 30 years with the St. Louis Review. He was active in numerous Catholic charities, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Nicholas food pantry and Ascension Altar Society.
There will be no visitation. Delsing donated his body to Washington University Medical School.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday at Ascension of Chesterfield, 230 Santa Maria Drive. Contributions may be made to The Backstoppers, P.O. Box 66927, St. Louis, Mo. 63166.
He is survived by his wife, Roseanne; three daughters, Jamie Delsing of New Orleans, Kim Delsing of Chicago and Moochie Twellman of St. Louis; two sons, Jay Delsing of St. Louis and Bart Delsing of Boca Raton, Fla.; and 10 grandchildren.
Courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch