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.”
Posted: March 29, 2013 at 05:53 AM | 36 comment(s)
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