Sturdivant: A memorable day with an ex-Yankee
Tom Sturdivant died Saturday, and the passing of the New York Yankee pitching hero from the 1950s reminded me of a great day a couple of years ago.
We brought in five former major leaguers to our office. Sturdivant, Don Demeter, Bobby Morgan, Cal McLish and Jim Gentile. The first four grew up in Oklahoma City, and Gentile has lived in Edmond for 30 years, though he grew up in San Francisco.
We talked about baseball in the innocent days of the ’50s and ’60s. Sturdivant was the only one of the five I really hadn’t talked to much before that. He was a delightful guy, full of laughter and still full of wonder at his major-league days. He seemed just as interested as I was in in hearing the stories about baseball legends, his eyes wide and sparkling.
Sturdivant, of course, had as many stories as anyone. His teammates were among the greatest names in baseball. Mickey Mantle. Yogi Berra. Whitey Ford. Sturdivant twice won 16 games, 1956 and 1957, for the greatest franchise in American sport, in that franchise’s greatest decade. His manager was Casey Stengel.
Sturdivant had a lot of tragedy in his life. He was in a car crash years ago that made his health deteriorate. This decade alone, both of his sons died. But Demeter, who also lost a son (former Yankee first-round draft pick Todd Demeter), is Sturdivant’s pastor, and friends say Demeter was a great counselor for Sturdivant.
Sturdivant died at the age of 78. He lived a full life, with great memories. I was blessed that he shared some of those memories with me.
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