Former Colt .45 Bob Cerv Dies at Age 91

Roger Maris was celebrating the birth of his son in this 1960 photo. – Bob Cerv was celebrating the birth of his eighth child, a girl, at the same time. – Looks like Bob Cerv carried the heavy lumber in the baby breeding arena, even if he doesn’t get an asterisk beside the number on his final total.

 

Former Houston Colt .45 Bob Cerv passed away at age 91 years and 336 days in Blair, Nebraska on April 6, 2017. He was buried in St. John Nepomucene Cemetery, Weston, NE.

Bob Cerv’s time as a Houston Colt .45 wasn’t much, but Houston was the last stop in his 12-season (1951-1962) MLB career. Dealt to Houston by the Yankees during the 1962 first season of the Colt .45s, Cerv played the last 19 of his 829 MLB games as a left fielder/pinch hitter for the Colts. It was enough time for the BR/TR 37-year old muscular Cerv to also register his last 7 hits, 2 homers, and 3 RBI and bring the final career cap totals on each to 624 hits, 105 homers, and 374 RBI. – His 2 walks and 10 Ks were enough to bring those career totals to 212 walks and 392 strikeouts.

The 7 for 31 batting average of .226 that Cerv achieved as a 1962 Colt .45 paled in comparison to his .276 career batting average for 2,261 times at bat, but it probably helped this good young man to make the decision that it was time to hang up his bats, glove, and dreams.

Bob Cerv always intrigued me as a kid. He broke in with the Yankees in the same rookie class of candidates that accompanied the younger phenom that was Mickey Mantle. It was speculation time among Yankee fans and supporters. 1951 was going to be the last season for Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, and he had been the guy who took over as the new bright star for the Yankees in 1936, who were then already two years past the career of Ruth and looking at only three more years until their shocking loss of Gehrig. Who would take over now? – If not Mantle, then who? Could it be possible that a guy named Bob Cerv could walk that tall?

For five seasons (1951-56), it wasn’t the mediocre Bob Cerv – and he was traded to Kansas City (1957-60) just in time to hit the single super highlight season of his big league career. In 1958, Bob Cerv hit .305 with 38 home runs for the Kansas City Athletics in 141 games. His 157 hits and 104 RBI also were season highs for his MLB career and, at age 33, Cerv seemed to be finally catching some later years second wind. It didn’t last. He hit 20 HR for KC in 1959, but his BA dropped to .285.

By 1960, the Yankees reacquired Cerv from KC, but, in 1961, the Yankees then shipped Cerv off again; this time to the Los Angeles Angels for 18 games before reacquiring him  – yet again – to their own 1961 roster.

Bob Cerv may have been one of MLB’s earliest rental players.

In 1962, Cerv got into 14 games for the Yankees before they again “Fedexed” him to another club. And this time, it was the Houston Colt .45s.

Then, after 1962, something happened to bar Bob Cerv from returning to the Yankees for yet another tour of limited service.

He retired.

Rest in Peace, Bob Cerv!

We shall also pray that your new deal in the heavens was not touched at all by the New York Yankees front office people.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cervbo01.shtml

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

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10 Responses to “Former Colt .45 Bob Cerv Dies at Age 91”

  1. Mickey Herskowitz Says:

    Bill, couldn’t resist sharing an odd, random thought on Bob Cerv. His claim to fame as a Colt .45 was the size of his thighs. He had grown so big and heavy that the equipment man, Whitey Diskin, had to rip up two sets of trousers so he could sew them together to fit over Cerv’s upper legs.

    He was also the only player, certainly up to time, to get thrown out at home trying to score from second on a triple. Al Spangler banged one off the centerfield wall with Cerv perched on second. When he rounded third, Al was just a few steps behind him. He was tagged out easily at the plate. Did I mention in addition to gaining a whole lot of weight, he had lost a whole lot of speed. Best. M.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mickey – Thanks for making my night. Hope I’m able to laugh and walk up the stairs at the same time because these images of Cerv are going to haunt me from here to my dreams. 🙂

  2. David Munger Says:

    Great article, Bill, I love hearing about the Old Timers. The flip side is it’s when they pass…..Happy Easter, Bill.

  3. Emmett McAuliffe Says:

    Who is the oldest living Colt .45 now?

  4. Mark W Says:

    I posted this on Facebook re: Bob Cerv (and Early Wynn).

    I must pay tribute here today to the late Bob Cerv, who I just learned died on April 6th at the age of 91.

    On May 28, 1961, the Chicago White Sox spotted Early Wynn a 6-0 lead vs. the Yankees. In the sixth inning, the Yankees scratched out two runs and loaded the bases. Ralph Houk had Bob Cerv pinch hit for Bill Stafford, and Cerv delivered a grand slam that tied the game. Wynn was relieved by Frank Baumann who got the White Sox out of the inning with no further damage. But in the 7th, Mantle singled and Yogi Berra and Bill Skowron hit back-to-back homeruns off Baumann, and the Yankees took a 9-6 lead into the 8th inning.

    That’s when my parents had me turn off my radio for a family activity and I didn’t get to listen to the rest of the game, I was content, though, that the Yankees and Bob Cerv had bagged this one. I was very surprised the next day to discover that the White Sox scored 4 runs in the 8th and 4 runs in the 9th to win the game 14-9. I was so thrilled when Cerv hit that pinch grand slam.

    When I learned today that Cerv passed away, I immediately thought of the joy he brought me in that game. When I went back to look at the events of the day in more detail, I discovered that Early Wynn became the answer to a good trivia question that day.

    While playing for the Washington Senators, Wynn pinch hit for pitcher Roger Wolff in the 5th inning of a game vs. the Tigers on September 15, 1946. He faced pitcher Johnny Gorsica and delivered a grand slam. He then came into the game to pitch the rest of the way. Wynn got credit for the win. Yes, it was a win-win for Wynn. So when Wynn surrendered Cerv’s pinch homer in 1961, he became the only player in history to both surrender, and to hit, a pinch hit grand slam homerun.

    https://collection.baseballhall.org/…/ob…/islandora%3A268912

  5. Darrell Pittman Says:

    Here are the ten oldest living Colt .45s/Astros (Bob Cerv would have been the oldest)

    Name Date of Birth Age
    1 Bobby Shantz 9/26/1925 91
    2 Dick Gernert 9/28/1928 88
    3 Frank Thomas 6/11/1929 87
    4 Don Larsen 8/7/1929 87
    5 Bob Lillis 6/2/1930 86
    6 Román Mejias 8/9/1930 86
    7 Dean Stone 9/1/1930 86
    8 Hal Smith 12/7/1930 86
    9 Don Taussig 2/19/1932 85
    10 Eddie Kasko 6/27/1932 84

  6. Anthnony Cavender Says:

    A great story, which we hope is not apocryphal, has Casey Stengel and Bob Cerv sitting together on the Yankee bench, and Casey says, somewhat offhand, “You know Bob, one of us sitting on the here bench has just been traded to Kansas City”.

  7. Mark W Says:

    From various internet sources:

    “Nobody knows this, but one of us has just been traded to Kansas City.”

    Casey Stengel, while conversing with OF Bob Cerv before the 1957 season

  8. Mark W Says:

    Bobby Shantz, oldest surviving Colt .45, and also oldest surviving original Colt .45 from the 1961 expansion draft, 21st pick.

  9. Mark W Says:

    Bobby Shantz also was an original pick by the new Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft, 2nd pick overall, drafted off the New York Yankees roster. He may be the only player to be drafted by both of the first two expansion teams (since the formation of the American League in 1901). He was traded by Washington to Pittsburgh before the season started.

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