In Memory of Former Cardinals: 2009

Our annual feature remembering ten former St. Louis Cardinals who passed away during 2009, including the oldest then-living ex-Cardinal.

A year after at least 17 men with ties to the St. Louis Cardinals died, including prominent names such as George Kissell and Dave Ricketts, I could only locate ten who passed away during 2009.


Most notable perhaps was the late Herman Franks, who I believe was the oldest living former Cardinals player prior to his March 30 death and last to suit up for the major league club in the 1930s.


According to the best information I can unearth, Don Lang has taken over from Franks as the oldest living ex-Cardinal. The 1948 Cardinals third baseman turns 95 years old on March 15.


In terms of a living player who played for the team the longest time ago, I believe Marty Marion holds that distinction. The 92-year-old made his MLB debut on April 16, 1940, just short of 60 years back. That is a year and a half prior to now-89-year-old Stan Musial's September 1941 arrival.


2009 Cardinals deaths by date


January 13: Preston Gomez, age 86.

The well-respected former coach and manager of San Diego, Houston and the Cubs was a Cardinals coach in 1976. Gomez was associated with the Angels for the last 28 years of his life.


January 25: Eddie Lyons, age 85.

Lyons managed for five years in the Cardinals minor league system in the late 1950s and early 1960s and scouted for the organization until 1975.


January 28: Gene Corbett, age 96.

Gene Corbett was an infielder who played briefly for the Phillies in the late 1930's. Later in his career, from 1947 through 1952, Corbett served as a player-manager in the Cardinals minor league system in Class B and D at these outposts: Decatur, Salisbury, Allentown, St. Joseph and Albany.


February 18: Ben Flowers, age 81.

A durable right-handed pitcher, Flowers pitched briefly for the Cardinals at the end of the 1955 season and early in 1956 making a total of seven starts in between a pair of trades.


March 17: Whitey Lockman, age 83.

The former Giants outfielder and later Cubs manager joined the Cardinals in the 1956 multi-player trade that sent Red Schoendienst to the Giants. Lockman was dealt right back to New York the next spring for future Hall of Famer and knucleballer Hoyt Wilhelm.


March 30: Herman Franks, age 95.

Franks is perhaps most remembered for his playing time with the Giants along with his coaching and managerial years with the Chicago Cubs. Yet Franks began his MLB journey in St. Louis. The catcher made his 1939 MLB debut with the Cardinals before heading over to the Browns for the next two years. He died of heart failure at his Salt Lake City home.


June 14: Hal Woodeshick, age 76.

The left-handed reliever concluded his 11-season MLB career as an oft-used member of the 1965-1967 Cardinals. Woodeshick pitched the final inning of the Cards' game six loss to the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series.


August 29: Jackie Collum, age 82.

Left-handed pitcher Jackie Collum came up through the system, first joining the Cardinals late in 1951. He saw limited duty into 1953 when he was dealt to Cincinnati. Collum returned to the Cardinals as a reliever for the 1956 season before being traded away again. He played nine seasons in the majors for six clubs before finishing in 1962.


September 4: Buddy Blattner, age 89. 

Blattner, an infielder from St. Louis, played for the Cardinals in 1942 before joining the Navy later that year. After the war, he spent parts of four seasons with the Giants and Phillies before embarking on a quarter century-long broadcasting career. Blattner was a part of the Cardinals radio team in 1960 and 1961 and among his other jobs was once the voice of the Browns and Royals. He is a two-time member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.


October 4: Barry Lersch, age 65.

Lersch pitched for the Phillies from 1969-1973, but finished his MLB career with one rough outing in the final month of the 1974 Cardinals campaign after St. Louis had purchased his contract from Atlanta.


In addition, former St. Louis Browns player Bob Dillinger also passed away in 2009.


A tip of the cap to for background statistical information.


Previous years' articles: 2008, 2007, 2006



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