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Friday, March 29, 2013

Gus Triandos, beloved ex-Orioles catcher, dies at 82

RIP…Gus Triandos.

Gus Triandos, a brawny slugger who won the hearts of Orioles fans starved for someone to cheer for in the 1950s, died Thursday at his home in San Jose, Calif. He was 82.

“My father died in his sleep,” his daughter, Lori Luna, said. “He’d been dealing with congestive heart failure for 10 years. It was hard for him to get up.

“His heart just gave out.”

A catcher and four-time All Star, Triandos played with the Orioles from 1955 through 1962 and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1981. He hit 142 home runs for the club, 30 of them in 1958, then an American League record for catchers.

...Triandos broke into the big leagues with the Yankees but came to Baltimore in a blockbuster deal that sent pitchers Bob Turley and Don Larsen to New York in exchange for outfielder Gene Woodling, shortstop Willie Miranda and a swarthy, slow-footed catcher who would take the city by storm.

How much did Baltimore love Triandos? In 1962, when he moved his family to a new development in Timonium, they named the road for him — Triandos Drive.

“That [street sign] is my favorite memento,” he said in 2009. “Some years ago, they replaced the sign and mailed the old one to me. It’s one of my few [keepsakes]. I never wanted to be in situations where I had to bore guests with my exploits.”

...At 6-feet-3 and 215 pounds, few pitches got past Triandos, a rugged Greek born in San Francisco.

“Gus was a long ball hitter, an outstanding catcher ... and a big old teddy bear,” said Jim Gentile, onetime Orioles first baseman who replaced Triandos as clean-up hitter.

Gentile, who is also from San Francisco, kept in touch with Triandos to the end.

“We’d talk every few months,” Gentile said. “Some years ago, I took my son to have lunch with Gus, who lived in a trailer park. He was a great teammate and friend.”

Repoz Posted: March 29, 2013 at 06:53 AM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obit

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   1. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 07:37 AM (#4398959)
I can only think about this clip from The Wire when I read the name Gus Triandos: http://youtu.be/MxsiZjHO7SA (NSFW).
   2. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: March 29, 2013 at 07:52 AM (#4398963)
I was coming here just to say that somewhere, Herc sheds a single tear.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 29, 2013 at 08:04 AM (#4398966)
Triandos came to Baltimore from the Yankees as part of the blockbuster Bob Turley / Don Larsen trade, and I'll never forget his ML debut game**, because I was there. The Yankees were typically pounding Washington by 22 to 1, and in the top of the 9th Triandos came in to pinch hit for Charley Silvera, who had earlier replaced Yogi Berra when the score was 17 to 0.

So on the first pitch he ever saw in the Major Leagues, with a runner on first, Triandos walloped a tremendous shot to the deepest point along the bleacher wall, well over 400 ft from the plate. I was on my feet trying to root it over the fence, when out of nowhere ####### Jim Busby makes one of the great leaping catches of his life to rob Gus of a home run. After making the catch, Busby crumbled to his knees and it looked as if he'd been hurt, but he shook it off and trotted to the dugout waving his (not quite) game saving souvenir.

IIRC he also caught Hoyt Wilhelm's no-hitter against the Yanks a few years later, and was famous for his catching wars with Wilhelm's knuckleball. Very sad to see him go.

**BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.
   4. just plain joe Posted: March 29, 2013 at 08:19 AM (#4398969)
Back in the late fifties, when I started to become interested in baseball, it seemed like I got a Gus Triandos card in every other pack that I bought. RIP.
   5. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 29, 2013 at 08:54 AM (#4398979)
That was the funniest episode of The Wire ever. It's the same time Herc & Carver ran into Poot and Bodie at the movies. And the funniest interrogation ever.
   6. SandyRiver Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:04 AM (#4398984)
IIRC he also caught Hoyt Wilhelm's no-hitter against the Yanks a few years later, and was famous for his catching wars with Wilhelm's knuckleball. Very sad to see him go.

That's my recollection of Triandos, especially when he wore that grotesque leather basket that Paul Richards commissioned specifically because of Wilhelm.
   7. NJ in DC (Now unemployed!) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:30 AM (#4399001)
[1, 2, 5] I came here to say I know I've heard this name before in tv/movies somewhere but can't quite place it. Thanks.

EDIT: [3, 6] Re: Knuckleball, Herc agrees.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4399006)
you had to see triandos play to appreciate how slow he was as a runner. i can remember the white sox third baseman (blanking on the name) taking several steps before finally throwing the ball to first on a grounder and triandos still a few feet from first.

he also would be quoted saying funny things but i don't know if it was meant to be funny or he was just being a straight talker and being sarcastic. i remember him saying that getting old was like 'mildewing' and i thought that was pretty amusing.
   9. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4399008)
Triandos was traded for the only man to throw a WS no-hitter, and with a HOF manager and a future U.S. Senator. (Separate trades)

He came along with Jim Bunning for Don Demeter/Jack Hamilton trade. Without that trade there would have been no epic Phillies collapse in 1964.

He may have been the only Major Leaguer that I could have beaten in a foot race. :) RIP.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4399028)
for the old-timers to help out the kids, triandos was slower than benjie Molina don't you think?
   11. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4399035)
But was he slower than Ernie Lombardi?
   12. Gamingboy Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4399040)
I remember watching Gus Triandos on those Home Run Derby shows that used to be on ESPN Classic.
   13. Mark Armour Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4399088)
BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.


Wait, how likely is this, that bb-ref has a game on the wrong day? That would be sort of earth-shattering at this point.

Rest in peace, GT. He led the league in passed balls a few times because of Wilhelm. There has never been a knuckleballer who threw so many passed balls--his catchers set all kinds of records--but Triandos had Wilhelm when he was a starter.
   14. esseff Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4399147)
Gus Triandos is credited with naming the '64 Phillies' season "The Year of the Blue Snow." That was the season when it looked as if the Phillies were going to win their first pennant in 49 years, only to blow a 6-game lead in the final 12 games. Triandos was on that team as a catching complement to Clay Dalrymple.
   15. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4399195)
</Pedantic alert> 6.5 game lead, esseff.
   16. Hack Wilson Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4399197)
Wasn't it Clint Courtney, the Orioles catcher after Gus, that started using an oversized catcher's mitt to catch Wilhelm. (Of course Elston Howard probably gets credit for inventing it.)
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4399202)
BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.

Wait, how likely is this, that bb-ref has a game on the wrong day? That would be sort of earth-shattering at this point.


Yeah, I was kind of shocked, too, but gratified to know that at least there's one human being still working there.

And here's the irony: While Gus's page says his debut game was on August 13th, the link is to a game on August 3rd. The game I was at was on August 12th, so I was also wrong but they were one day wronger.

   18. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4399214)
BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.

Maybe he entered the game after midnight?
   19. Copronymus Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4399220)
While I love that Wire bit, it always bugged me that the timing doesn't make sense. Unless Herc is in his fifties, he wouldn't have ever seen Triandos play, since his career was over by the mid-60s. It'd be like a 10 year old today looking mournfully at a Terry Steinbach card.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4399227)
BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.

Maybe he entered the game after midnight?


Nah, that was 1953, not 2013. Even 22 to 1 games then would barely make it over 3 hours. This one began at 8:30 and was over at 11:44. (/pedanticism)
   21. Mark Armour Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4399231)
Either way, the game you saw was Triandos' sixth major league game, and his 19th at bat. Here is his Retrosheet game log for 1953.

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1953/Itriag1010011953.htm

The 22-1 game was on 8/12, which agrees with baseball-reference.com. And it was a *day* game.
   22. esseff Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4399233)
</Pedantic alert> 6.5 game lead, esseff.


So it was. I knew my Cardinals were 6.5 back after that Sunday, but thot, incorrectly, that the Reds were a half-game ahead of the Cards. But that didn't happen until the next day, by which time the Reds were 5.5 back and the Cardinals 6.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4399237)
Wait, how likely is this, that bb-ref has a game on the wrong day? That would be sort of earth-shattering at this point.

This whole conversation confused me until I went to bb-ref. They don't have a particular game on the wrong day, but they have the wrong game listed as Triandos' debut.
   24. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4399241)
I REMEMBER THAT! I used to watch the reruns they'd show on TVLand when I was at my babysitter's around the age of 8-10.

   25. SandyRiver Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4399265)
Wasn't it Clint Courtney, the Orioles catcher after Gus, that started using an oversized catcher's mitt to catch Wilhelm. (Of course Elston Howard probably gets credit for inventing it.)

Courntey was indeed the catcher when the Orioles trotted out the knucklemitt in May 1960, and both he and Triandos caught Wilhelm. Clint was the backup C and on the downside of his career; he had about half Triandos' PA in 1960, and under 100 PA the following year.
   26. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 29, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4399320)
From 1955 to 1961, Triandos was a very good player, making three All-Star teams and receiving MVP votes four times. He drew some walks and hit with power, topping out with a 31-home run season.

Two of the players that approximate him on similarity scores are Jody Davis and Mike MacFarlane. That's pretty good company.

I've heard so many stories about Triandos' slow running that he has to make the top five list for slowest baserunners of all time. So I'll put him up there (or down there) with Rich Gedman, Ernie Lombardi, Bengi Molina, and Steve Balboni, though I'm sure I'm missing some other plodders.
   27. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:08 PM (#4399515)
I've heard so many stories about Triandos' slow running that he has to make the top five list for slowest baserunners of all time. So I'll put him up there (or down there) with Rich Gedman, Ernie Lombardi, Bengi Molina, and Steve Balboni, though I'm sure I'm missing some other plodders.

On the short list of my very favorite Bill James witticisms: "Sam Horn runs like an anvil."
   28. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4399539)
Imma quote Posnanski on this one:

On this day -- the day after Gus Triandos died at the age of 82 -- it is worth remembering a different moment, the moment Gus Triandos hit an inside-the-park home run. It happened toward the end of the season in 1957 at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. That Orioles team was perfectly mediocre -- 76-76, scored nine more runs than they allowed -- and actually had TWO Hall of Fame third baseman (George Kell exiting the stage and Brooks Robinson entering).

It was the fifth inning, a scoreless game, and Triandos smashed a vicious line drive to right field -- that was classic Triandos. When he hit the ball hard, he hit the ball HARD. He actually was on the old “Home Run Derby” show once -- facing Dick Stuart -- and I remember it because he ripped three or four line drives that hit the top of the fence and bounced back in. This line drive also whacked off the left field wall, but he hit it so hard that it caromed off shot right past the left fielder, who was completely overwhelmed by the bounce. The left fielder then began chasing after the ball. The left fielder that day was Ted Williams.

While Williams tried to run down the ball, which had rolled a 100 feet away, Triandos chugged around the bases. The ball was hit so hard and rolled so far away from Williams, that Triandos saw the third base coach waving him in.

And that’s a good way to remember Gus Triandos, an Orioles star when there were no Orioles stars. That very same day, the Orioles pitcher was Hal Smith, who, yes, was a knuckleball pitcher. In the ninth inning, Hal Smith threw a knuckleball to Ted Williams and, yes, it got by Gus Triandos. A passed ball. But on that great day it didn’t matter at all. While Ted Williams ran after the ball, Triandos rounded third, headed for home. He scored standing up.


Really, really wish we had footage of that. One of my favorite home runs of all time is Prince Fielder's inside the parker. Big guys steaming around the bases is fanfriggintastic.
   29. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:38 PM (#4399564)
Either way, the game you saw was Triandos' sixth major league game, and his 19th at bat. Here is his Retrosheet game log for 1953.

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1953/Itriag1010011953.htm


Definitely stand corrected on having mistakenly thought that I'd been at his debut, which was really on August 3rd---which is what the "August 13, 1953" link on Triandos's BB-Reference page leads to.

The 22-1 game was on 8/12, which agrees with baseball-reference.com.

Right, but Triandos's BB-ref page still mistakenly shows this:

Born: July 30, 1930 in San Francisco, CA (Age 82)
High School: Mission HS (Fremont, CA)
School: St. Mary's College of California (Moraga, CA)
Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1948. (All Transactions)
Debut: August 13, 1953 (Age 23)


And it was a *day* game.

Sorry, but I was there, and it was a night game that began at 8:30, as were all three games in that midweek August series. Any reference that shows it as a day game is simply wrong. It's also listed as a night game in the 1953 Baseball Guide and in that year's AL pocket schedule.
   30. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:48 PM (#4399570)
BB-Reference dates it a day later than it really was. First time I've ever caught that website in a factual error.

Wait, how likely is this, that bb-ref has a game on the wrong day? That would be sort of earth-shattering at this point.

There are some errors on the site at times. I once caught them claiming Jim Fregosi managed a game for the Angels on the same day he played a game for the Pirates. (It wasn't wrong by much - Fregosi played his last game on 5/31/78 & managed his first game on 6/2/78. The Angels had the day off on 6/1, so B-ref just jumpstarted Fregosi's managing career one game early. For me, the real takeaway is how quickly Fregosi shifted from playing to managing).

Eons ago, I noted that Jay Witascik's career World Series ERA was wrong. He only appeared in 2 World Series - and had the ERA both times, yet his career mark was different. This is especially funny if you know what his W.Series ERA was.

Shortly after he went full time statnerd, I emailed Sean telling him his Defensive Effeciency Rating score for teh 1904 Tigers couldn't possibly be right. (Long story, but it was bugged up). Sean emailed back thanking me for the info, and then noting that if he can find people that care about the Def Eff for the 1904 Tigers, he can probably successfully make it as a full-time Sports Reference guy. Heh.
   31. Ryan Lind Posted: March 30, 2013 at 12:58 AM (#4399588)
I have pointed this out before, but as recently as just last year Baseball-Reference credited Chris Parmelee with an RBI in this game while MLB.com does not. As a result, BBRef says Parmelee had 20 RBI last year, but he had 19 according to his MLB page. MLB gives Ibanez an error on that play and so as a consequence of the same play, Ibanez has an error in his MLB.com stats, but Baseball-Reference does not give Ibanez any errors last season.

This is almost certainly a play that was initially ruled one way and then changed and the change never propagated. It happens probably more often than you think and I have encountered quite a few little differences like this when working with events data. Getting to "one version of the truth" is very difficult, even in today's day and age.
   32. esseff Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:44 AM (#4399601)
That very same day, the Orioles pitcher was Hal Smith, who, yes, was a knuckleball pitcher. In the ninth inning, Hal Smith threw a knuckleball to Ted Williams and, yes, it got by Gus Triandos. A passed ball. But on that great day it didn’t matter at all. While Ted Williams ran after the ball, Triandos rounded third, headed for home. He scored standing up.


Hal Brown, not Hal Smith.
   33. Scott Lange Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4408576)
Great story from David Simon on Gus Triandos and his part in the joke from the Wire referenced above.
   34. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 09, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4408600)
Great link, Scott. Excellent read.
   35. Natty Fan Posted: April 09, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4408625)
#33 - After revisiting the scene in question last week, I'm absolutely floored by this story. Outstanding.
   36. booond Posted: April 09, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4408750)
I appreciate Mr. Triandos and Mr. Simon even more. Great story.

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