On March 12, 1973, Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch dies at the age of 74. Frisch batted .316 over a 19-year career. As player-manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, he led the team to the 1934 World Championship.
On March 11, 1972, Hall of Fame outfielder Zach Wheat dies at the age of 83. A .317 lifetime batter, Wheat starred for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He batted a league-leading .335 in 1918 and possessed one of the most accurate throwing arms among outfielders.
On December 31, 1972, Pittsburgh Pirates superstar Roberto Clemente dies in the crash of a four-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean. The 38-year-old Clemente was supervising the delivery of relief supplies to the earthquake victims of Managua, Nicaragua. The plane, a DC-7 that departed from San Juan Airport in Puerto Rico, crashed shortly after takeoff. In 18 major league seasons, Clemente batted .317, won the 1966 MVP, and led the Pirates to the World Championship in 1971. Shortly after his death, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors votes to waive the usual five-year waiting period for Clemente, paving the way for his election to Cooperstown in 1973.
On January 1, 1923, 19th century star Wee Willie Keeler dies at the age of 50. The five-foot, four-and-a-half-inch Keeler batted .341 over a 19-year career, placing him in the top 10 on the all-time batting list. The former Baltimore Orioles’ star will win election to the Hall of Fame in 1939.
On January 5, 1975, 29-year-old Houston Astros pitcher Don Wilson is found dead in his garage from carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigators will later determine the cause of Wilson’s death to be a suicide. Wilson won 104 games during a nine-year career and notched two no-hitters.
On January 5, 1963, Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby dies at the age of 66 from a heart attack. A hard-hitting second baseman, Hornsby batted .358 over a 23-year major league career. Hornsby had most recently served as a coach and scout for the New York Mets.
On January 8, 1963, funeral services for Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby are held in Chicago, Illinois. Hall of Fame director Sid Keener, American League president Will Harridge and Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau, Charles “Gabby” Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Ray Schalk attend the services for Hornsby, who died from a heart attack on January 5.
On January 9, 1989, Hall of Famer Bill Terry dies at the age of 92. Terry batted .341 over a 14-year tenure with the New York Giants, including a career-high .401 in 1930. Terry also served as the Giants’ manager for 10 seasons, leading the team to three consecutive pennants. Terry gained election to the Hall of Fame in 1954.