Seattle Pilots ... Where are they now?
Seattle Times assistant sports editor
Ever wonder what happened to the Seattle Pilots?
For some of the 53 players, the 1969 season in Seattle was their last in the major leagues. For a few, it was their only season. Heck, for Dick Bates, it was his only game.
At least Bates had a Pilots career. A hot-headed outfielder named Lou Piniella was traded just before the start of the season to Kansas City, where he became American League Rookie of the Year.
The Pilots were a motley bunch — young players who hadn't proven anything yet (and, mostly, never would) and veterans at the ends of their careers.
Their first player — knuckleball pitcher Jim Bouton, sold to the Pilots by the Yankees on June 15, 1968 — turned out to be their most famous.
Bouton's account of the season, "Ball Four," let readers in on what happened off the field — battles with management, drug use, womanizing and a lot of really goofy things baseball players do to amuse themselves.
The Pilots, of course, left the next spring for Milwaukee. Bouton's book, and the Pilots' doomed one-year existence, made them famous.
Some of the Pilots stayed in the game; others never picked up a ball again once they were done. Four of the Pilots players are dead, and so is their manager, Joe Schultz, who is no doubt pounding the old Budweiser in the great clubhouse in the sky.
Sicks' Stadium, where the Pilots played in the Rainier Valley, is the site of a hardware store.
Seattle has the Mariners now, and beautiful Safeco Field, and the Pilots are just another long-gone piece of Seattle history, like Jimi Hendrix, affordable housing and good UW football teams.
But, in case you were wondering ...
Jack Aker: Has operated Jack Aker Baseball (www.jackakerbaseball.com) the past 17 years, offering camps and private instruction. Before that, Aker spent several years as a minor-league manager and pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians.
Aker, 65, lives in West Windsor, N.J., with his wife Jane Charnin-Aker, who won $250,000 on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" in 2001.
Steve Barber: Barber, 68, lives in Henderson, Nev. He and his wife moved to the Las Vegas area in 1978. For the past 14 years, Barber has been a driver for children with disabilities for the Clark County School District.
Dick Baney: After finishing his career with the Reds, Baney worked with his father as a general contractor for custom homes in Southern California. He is a real-estate investor and property manager. Baney, 59, lives in Tustin, Calif.
Dick Bates: His major-league career began and ended on April 27, 1969, when he pitched 1-2/3 innings in a loss to Oakland at Sicks' Stadium. He allowed five runs and struck out three. So his career earned-run average is a little high, but the strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio is Hall of Fame material. Bates, 60, lives in Glendale, Ariz., and is the general manager of the Arizona Biltmore Golf & Country Club in Phoenix.
Gary Bell: "Ding Dong" tossed a wobbly shutout in the Pilots' home opener, allowing nine hits and walking four. Bell, 69, lives in San Antonio.
Jim Bouton: Wrote "Ball Four," the diary of his 1969 season with the Pilots and the Houston Astros. Bouton, 67, has continued to write, updating "Ball Four" several times, telling the story of his battle to save an old minor-league ballpark in "Foul Ball," and producing a novel, "Strike Zone," with Eliot Asinof. Bouton, who lives in North Egremont, Mass., is a popular speaker. His Web site is www.jimbouton.com.
Gene Brabender: After retiring, Brabender went into the mobile-home and construction businesses. He died at age 55 on Dec. 27, 1996, after collapsing on his farm near Madison, Wis.
Darrell "Bucky" Brandon: Played in the short-lived Senior League in 1989 in Florida. Brandon, 66, lives in Plymouth, Mass.
George Brunet: Brunet continued to pitch into his 50s in the Mexican League, until 1989. He stayed two more years as a manager, but died of a heart attack at age 56 on Oct. 25, 1991, in Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico. Most revealing "Ball Four" highlight: didn't wear underwear. Best Mexican League rumor: married the madam of a Mexican brothel.
Bill Edgerton: After his playing career, Edgerton was a policeman in West Palm Beach, Fla., for a few years. Edgerton, 64, lives in Mishawaka, Ind., where he works as a laborer at AM General in nearby South Bend, making Hummers.
Miguel Fuentes: Pitched in eight games as a promising 23-year-old rookie, including the final inning in Pilots history. On Jan. 29, 1970, he was shot dead outside a bar in his hometown of Loiza Aldea, Puerto Rico. According to former Pilots teammate Dick Baney, who was not present, Fuentes had gone outside to relieve himself because there was a plumbing problem in the bathroom. Someone who thought Fuentes was doing it too close to his car shot him.
John Gelnar: Gelnar lost both games (though he didn't pitch badly) of a Pilots doubleheader on July 20, the same day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Gelnar, 63, went into the oil business after baseball, and is now a rancher and farmer in Hobart, Okla.
Bob Locker: Locker, 68, is a real-estate broker in Lafayette, Calif. (www.specificproperties.com).
Skip Lockwood: Lockwood, 59, has a PhD in psychology and has worked as a clinical psychologist, bank executive and career counselor.
Mike Marshall: The 1974 Cy Young winner earned a master's and PhD from Michigan State. Marshall, 63, was a college baseball coach at Saint Leo (1984-1988), Henderson State (1989-1991) and West Texas A&M (1993-94). He offers pitching instruction (www.drmikemarshall.com), and lives in Zephyrhills, Fla.
Bob Meyer: Meyer, 66, got into the mail-order business after he was done playing, importing goods from Taiwan and India to his home in Southern California. He became interested in the idea of bartering as a business strategy, and in 1979 founded Barter News magazine (www.barternews.com).
"It's thinking out of the box, doing some things that are not the mainstream way, but are interesting and lucrative," says Meyer, who lives in Mission Viejo, Calif. "I have found it every bit as exciting as baseball."
John Morris: Morris, 64, was one of 17 former Pilots who attended an autograph session two weeks ago in New Jersey. He has been retired for 10 years, and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he plays a lot of golf.
John O'Donoghue: Coached for 12 seasons, 11 in the Orioles' system, retiring in 2002. O'Donoghue, 66, lives in Sarasota, Fla. He plays in MLB alumni games and golf tournaments. His son, also John O'Donoghue, pitched for the Orioles in 1993.
Marty Pattin: Pattin, 63, makes appearances for the Kansas City Royals, and lives in Lawrence, Kan. He was the University of Kansas baseball coach from 1982-87.
Garry Roggenburk: The 6-foot-6 left-hander walked away from the Pilots in midseason and never pitched again in the big leagues. He coached in the Red Sox's minor-league system, then was general manager of their Winter Haven team before leaving the game for good.
Roggenburk and another Pilot, Mike Hegan, were teammates at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. After Roggenburk was finished with baseball, he returned to the Cleveland area and worked as a real-estate appraiser. Roggenburk, 66, lives in Avon, Ohio.
Trivia time: Roggenburk was the leading scorer for the Dayton basketball team that won the NIT in 1962.
Diego Segui: The only player to appear with both the Pilots and Mariners was a pitching coach in the minor leagues for the San Francisco Giants from 1987 to '93, then quit to become a professional bass fisherman. Segui, 68, is still fishing and lives in Kansas City, Kan.
Jerry Stephenson: Appeared in just two games for the Pilots. Stephenson, 62, is a West Coast major-league scout for the Boston Red Sox, and lives in Fullerton, Calif.
Fred Talbot: Worked in the construction business after playing, retiring in 1996. Talbot, 65, lives in Falls Church, Va.
Gary Timberlake: The two games and six innings Timberlake pitched for the Pilots was it for his major-league career. Timberlake, 57, lives in Louisville, Ky.
Dooley Womack: The Dooley Womack, the man traded to the Pilots for Jim Bouton, returned home to Columbia, S.C., after his playing days. Womack, 66, has been in the commercial-floor-covering business for 30 years. Womack attended the recent card show in New Jersey. His reaction when he saw a fan wearing a Pilots powder-blue visiting uniform? "Lord, have mercy."
Larry Haney: Senior special assistant to the general manager for the Milwaukee Brewers. Haney, 63, lives in Barboursville, Va.
Jerry McNertney: McNertney, 69, coached in the minors for the Yankees (1977-87), then was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Iowa State (1988-97). He's retired now, living in Ames, Iowa.
Jim Pagliaroni: Pagliaroni retired after the '69 season. He operated A&W Root Beer franchises with his father-in-law for a few years, then spent 27 years as a western regional manager in the food-service industry. For the past five years, he and his business partner have run a financial corporation that develops and acquires companies globally. Pagliaroni, 68, has lived in Grass Valley, Calif., the past 43 years.
Merritt Ranew: A member of the National Cutting Horse Association since 1975. Ranew, 68, is involved in judging, showing, training, and buying and selling top cutting horses. He lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Freddie Velazquez: Velazquez, 68, was last known to be living in the Dominican Republic.
Ron Clark: Kansas City Royals infield instructor. Clark, 63, lives in Largo, Fla.
John Donaldson: Lives in Charlotte, N.C., where he owns and operates a painting and wall-covering business. Donaldson, 63, is still playing baseball, in a Roy Hobbs league.
Mike Ferraro: Ferraro, 61, lives in Las Vegas, and has been retired since 2003. He coached with the Indians, Royals, Yankees, Giants and Orioles until 1993. He managed the Indians in 1983 and the Royals in 1986. He moved to Las Vegas in 1996 and worked as a supervisor or host at casinos until he retired. He met his wife, who is from Federal Way, when he managed the Tacoma Yankees in 1978.
Gus Gil: Gil, 67, lives in Alexandria, Va., where he has worked the past four years for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He spent several years coaching in the minors, with the Orioles, Brewers and Yankees, getting out of baseball six years ago.
Greg Goossen: Goossen, 60, is an actor, living in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He has been a stand-in for Gene Hackman in every movie Hackman has made the past 18 years. Goossen met Hackman when he was managing boxers with his brothers, and Hackman was doing research for the 1988 film "Split Decisions."
"He just took a liking to me," Goossen says. "We just got along very well. He took care of this old, befuddled, used-up baseball player."
Tommy Harper: "Tailwind Tommy," 65, is a player development consultant with the Boston Red Sox, and lives in Sharon, Mass.
John Kennedy: Manages the North Shore Spirit of the independent Canadian-American League. Kennedy, 65, lives in Peabody, Mass.
Gordy Lund: Lund managed in the White Sox's system, including two years with their Class AAA team in Edmonton, before getting out of baseball after the 1982 season. After that, he was a field representative then later director of a welfare and pension fund in the Chicago area. Lund, 65, has been retired for six years and lives in Arlington Heights, Ill.
Don Mincher: Mincher was the Pilots' All-Star representative, replacing Mike Hegan, who was injured. Mincher, 68, is president of the Class AA Southern League and lives in Huntsville, Ala.
Ray Oyler: The Pilots shortstop hit just .165, but had his own fan club. Oyler settled in the Seattle area after his playing career, managing a bowling alley in Bellevue and working at Boeing. He suffered a heart attack in his Redmond home on Jan. 26, 1981, and died at the age of 42.
Rich Rollins: "Tell 'em I'm still walking around," says Rollins, who has been retired since 1993. Rollins spent a few years as a minor-league manager in the Cleveland organization, and worked in the Indians' front office for 14 years. Rollins, 67, lives in Bath, Ohio, and spends a lot of time with his 11 grandchildren.
Fred Stanley: Coordinator of instruction for the San Francisco Giants. Stanley, 58, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Wayne Comer: Comer, 62, was relieved of his duties as coach of the Spotswood High School baseball team in Shenandoah, Va., after a six-win season.
Tommy Davis: Wrote "Tommy Davis' Tales from the Dodgers Dugout" last year and is a member of the Dodgers' speakers bureau. Davis, 67, lives in Alta Loma, Calif., and runs Tommy Davis Enterprises.
Jim Gosger: "I was promised a job at Norfolk [Va.] in 1974, but I'm still waiting for the call," Gosger says, recalling the Mets' offer with their AAA farm club. With no coaching job, Gosger returned to his hometown of Port Huron, Mich., when his career ended. Gosger, 63, lives in the same house where he was raised. He retired three years ago after a long career with the City of Port Huron, plays a lot of golf and still officiates high-school and junior-college baseball, basketball and football games ("as long as my knees hold out").
Mike Hegan: Hegan, 63, is in his 18th season as a TV and radio broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians. He lives in Hilton Head, S.C.
Steve Hovley: The man the Pilots called "Orbit" is 61, has worked as a plumber and is living in Oak View, Calif.
Dick Simpson: Simpson, 62, lives in Venice, Calif. Former Pilots pitcher Dooley Womack hadn't seen him since 1969 when they met up at a recent autograph session. "I didn't recognize him," Womack says. "He had a shaved head and a white beard."
Sandy Valdespino: Valdespino, 67, lives in Las Vegas. He coached in the minors after he was done playing.
Jose Vidal: Vidal, 66, was last known to be living in the Dominican Republic.
Danny Walton: Retired two years ago as a union pipe fitter and welder in Huntsville, Utah. Walton, 58, is busy now raising horses.
Steve Whitaker: The graduate of Lincoln High School in Tacoma has been a real-estate broker for 35 years. Whitaker, 63, operates Whitaker Realty in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his son, Chad Whitaker, who was a third-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1995.
Billy Williams: A minor-leaguer for 16 years, Williams finally made it to the majors with the Pilots, and was 0 for 10 in the only four games of his major-league career. Williams, 73, is in his second season as hitting coach for the Sioux City (Iowa) Explorers. He lives in Oakland, Calif.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company