Mickey Owen, 89; Made Infamous Mistake in ’41 Dodgers-Yankees Series
Mickey Owen, whose infamous dropped third strike proved costly to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1941 World Series against the New York Yankees, died Wednesday at the Missouri Veterans Home in Mount Vernon after a long illness. He was 89.
Owen had had Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years, according to Ken Rizzo, president and owner of the Mickey Owen Baseball School in Miller, Mo.
Owen, a catcher, was a four-time All-Star in 13 major league seasons over 17 years.
The ballplayer was born Arnold Malcolm Owen in Nixa, Mo. He broke into the majors in 1937 with the St. Louis Cardinals but was traded to the Dodgers in 1940. In 1942, he was the first player to hit a pinch-hit homer in an All-Star game.
But it was the lapse in the 1941 World Series that came to define his career.
Brooklyn had a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning of Game 4 when Owen dropped a third strike on Tommy Henrich that would have been the final out. The Yankees went on to score four more runs and won 7 to 4 for a 3-1 lead in the Series that they eventually won in five games.
Owen had a .995 fielding percentage that season -- then a team record -- and set a National League record for catchers with 476 consecutive chances without an error.
“I don’t mind being the goat,” he said later. “I’m just sorry for what I cost the other guys.”
Owen went to the Mexican League as a player-manager in 1946 and was blackballed from the majors for three years. He played for the Cubs from 1949 to 1951 and appeared in 32 games for the Red Sox in 1954, ending his career with a .255 batting average, 14 home runs and 378 RBIs. He was a scout after his retirement, and founded his school to develop young players in 1959.
“He was a very popular and well-liked person around here,” Rizzo said. “Before his health declined, he was always around, and everyone would gather around him to listen to his stories.”
Owen was the sheriff of Greene County, Mo., for 16 years. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor after his last term as sheriff ended in 1980.
He is survived by a son, Charlie. A funeral is planned for Saturday in Springfield.
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