PASSINGS: Joe L. Brown, Robert Wilson, Dan Avey

Joe L. Brown

General manager reshaped Pirates

Joe L. Brown, 91, the general manager whose shrewd trading and expert rebuilding of the

Pittsburgh Pirates

farm system resulted in two

World Series

championships, died Sunday in Albuquerque after an extended illness.

Brown, the son of famed comedian

Joe E. Brown

and a

Newport Beach

resident, succeeded

Branch Rickey

as the Pirates' general manager after a last-place season in 1955. He stayed on through 1976, a span in which the Pirates won the 1960 and 1971 World Series and five

National League

East titles after division play began in 1969.

Brown traded for 1960 Pirates standouts Don Hoak, Smoky Burgess, Bill Virdon, Harvey Haddix, Dick Schofield and Vinegar Bend Mizell — deals that helped reshape what was the majors' worst club during much of the 1950s into a champion.

He also hired Danny Murtaugh, who managed the 1960 and 1971 World Series teams.

Brown also maintained a strong farm system, promoting to the majors Hall of Famers

Willie Stargell


Bill Mazeroski

, as well as Al Oliver, Dave Parker, Steve Blass, Richie Hebner and Manny Sanguillen.

The 1960 team upset the heavily favored

New York Yankees

in one of the most unpredictable World Series, overcoming losses of 16-3, 12-0 and 10-0 to win Game 7 on a ninth-inning home run by Mazeroski.

Brown returned as interim general manager early in the 1985 season amid a clubhouse cocaine scandal and began overhauling a 104-loss team before Syd Thrift was hired full time later that year.

Robert Wilson

Bassist for Gap Band

Robert Wilson, 53, the bassist for the funk and R&B group the Gap Band, died Sunday in Palmdale, according to L.A. County coroner spokesman Ed Winter. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause, but Winter said the death appeared to be accidental or from natural causes.

Wilson had been touring in the last few weeks, including a stop in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla. The Tulsa World newspaper reported that he died of a suspected

heart attack


Wilson provided the bass backbone for the trio, which included his older brothers Charlie and Ronnie. The band rocketed to stardom in the 1980s with hits like "Outstanding,"

and "Yearning for Your Love."

Born Dec. 21, 1956, Robert Lynn Wilson was the son of a Pentecostal preacher. Originally called the Greenwood, Archer and Pine Street Band, for streets in the family's Tulsa neighborhood, the group shortened its name by using the streets' initials. The brothers moved to

Los Angeles

in the '70s and had their first hit with "Shake."

Dan Avey

Longtime radio reporter, Kings analyst

Dan Avey, 69, a longtime reporter and anchor on several Southern


radio stations and a former radio and television analyst with the Kings, died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications from

prostate cancer

, said his daughter, Kim Clemens.

spent seven seasons with the Kings from 1969 until 1976. He also worked in the

National Hockey League

team's front office in 1973.

During his radio career in Southern California, Avey primarily worked at KFWB-AM (980), KFI-AM (640) and KABC-TV Channel 7 as a reporter and anchor for news and sports. He earned 15 Golden Mike awards.

Daniel Sumner Avey was born April 26, 1941, in Spokane, Wash., and raised in Whittier. He attended California High in


, then returned to


to attend Gonzaga University. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Avey spent 1966to 1968 in the Army and served in Vietnam as a member of the Green Berets.

His first radio job was at a Spokane station where he was billed as disc jockey Danny Morrow.

—Times Staff and Wire Reports