Ray Herbert, the 1962 All-Star Game winning pitcher who threw batting practice for his hometown Detroit Tigers decades after retiring, died peacefully in Plymouth, Michigan, five days after his 93rd birthday. passed away.
Herbert began his major league career with Detroit in 1950 and pitched for four teams in 14 seasons. He had a 20-game hitting streak for the White Sox in 1962, then led the American League with seven catches in 1963 with Chicago.
Herbert was part of a generation of Detroiters who flocked to the diamonds of the city’s historic Northwest Arena, a hotbed that spawned players such as Willie Horton, Bill Freehan and Frank Tanana. It was Tigers legend “Wish” Egan who saw Herbert and his older brother, Donald, on the field so loaded with talent that sponsors, reporters and recruits were also in attendance.
Herbert died Dec. 20 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, said his brother Richard Herbert. He was born on December 15, 1929.
Detroit Catholic Central Hall, Herbert’s high school teams won two league championships in 1947 and ’48, with Donald taking the field in ’47.
The legendary Herbert was considered “one of Central Catholic’s all-time great pitchers” when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
Herbert and his brother had aspirations of making it to the major leagues before Donald was drafted into the Korean War. Donald Herbert Sr. died in 2016 at the age of 87.
At 19, Herbert struggled early in his professional career but had “a boom that major leaguers only dream of,” the late John Gabcik wrote in an American Society for Baseball Research biography.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound right-hander packed enough power with his raw arm skills and ability to contribute at the plate to “take it to Grand River,” his brother Richard said of the Northwestern native. He said his name has been changed. .
His younger brother, who along with Herbert’s daughter cared for him in his later years, said: “He had seven big home runs, but he said they finally realized he couldn’t hit a big league corner. “
Herbert threw a perfect game in his big league debut with the Tigers in 1950, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on a late homer. He was able to tie his streak against the Washington Senators three days later, but his career was filled with highs and lows for more than a decade before reawakening with the White Sox.
In 1962, Herbert went 20-9 with a 3.27 ERA and recorded a win in his only All-Star Game appearance. In the second of two All-Star Games held that season, he retired Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Orlando Cepeda in three shutout innings at Wrigley Field.
He retired in 1966 after four years with Detroit, five with the Kansas City Athletics, four with Chicago and two with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was 104-107 with a 4.01 ERA.
He then threw batting practice for the Tigers for three decades.
Despite his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Herbert never forgot the sandlot stories of his youth at Northwestern. He also fondly recalled pitching Mickey Mantle in 1954 and hitting a home run at Fenway Park in 1962.
He and his brothers were able to enjoy the Central Catholic Hall of Fame induction ceremony together in 2015.
Herbert is survived by his brother Richard; his daughter Roxanne Eaves; his children Roxanne, Melanie, Mark and Matthew; and many nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
AP Sportswriter Ryan Kryska is Ray Herbert’s great-nephew. His younger cousin once asked him to take her to a souvenir shop to try and find Herbert’s baseball card. Together, they found a box containing hundreds of old watches. The first card Olivia Herbert drew was her great uncle Ray.
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