Rudy Minarcin, a major league pitcher in the 1950s who threw a one-hitter against the Pirates at Forbes Field, died Tuesday in Cabot. He was 83.
Mr. Minarcin's daughter, Michelle Solomon, said he died after having a hemorrhagic stroke.
"He was one of the most humble, generous people I have ever met," Mrs. Solomon said.
Mr. Minarcin, who was born in North Vandergrift and graduated from Vandergrift High School, pitched in 70 games during a three-year MLB career, with the Cincinnati Reds in 1955 and with the Boston Red Sox from 1956-57. On June 4, 1955, in his fourth major league start, Mr. Minarcin allowed one hit in nine scoreless innings against the Pirates. The 25-year-old rookie walked two and struck out three.
Once, while pitching for the Red Sox shortly after marrying his wife, Sonja, Mr. Minarcin tried to hail a cab outside Yankee Stadium, Mrs. Solomon said. Mr. Minarcin bore a resemblance to New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle, and fans chased him into the cab asking for autographs.
"People were looking at the signed autographs and throwing them back in at him saying, 'No Mickey, sign your name,' " Mrs. Solomon said.
So Mr. Minarcin started signing "Mickey Mantle."
Mr. Minarcin signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1948 before the Reds selected him in the 1949 Rule 5 draft. He left professional baseball between 1951 and '54 to serve in the Army during the Korean War.
In 1956, Mr. Minarcin played for the Havana Sugar Kings, the Reds' Class AAA affiliate at the time in Havana, Cuba, before diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States broke down and the team relocated.
After leaving baseball in 1959, Mr. Minarcin took over Martin's Market in North Vandergrift, where he worked until 1995.
Mr. Minarcin played baseball and football at Vandergrift and decided on baseball despite receiving numerous football scholarship offers. In 1948, his senior year, he led Vandergrift to a WPIAL baseball title.
Joe Minarcin, Rudy's son, described Mr. Minarcin as a man who enjoyed spending time with his family.
"He found enjoyment just sitting around with his sisters and his nieces and nephews," Joe Minarcin said. "They would just get together at my grandmother's house."
Mr. Minarcin also enjoyed visiting the casino and the dog track, Joe Minarcin and Mrs. Solomon said, and liked to keep things loose with his family.
"He just liked to be the jovial guy, somebody that liked to have a lot of fun," Joe Minarcin said. "He was a big kidder, he liked to joke around a lot. He would do and say funny things just to get everybody to laugh."
In addition to Mrs. Solomon and Joe Minarcin, Mr. Minarcin is survived by his daughters Laura and Beth; his sister Julia; his brother Richard; and eight granddaughters. A Mass will be celebrated today at 1:30 p.m. in the Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in East Vandergrift.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM