Mickey Cochrane is Dead at 59;
Star Catcher for A's and Detroit
LAKE FOREST, ILL,. June 28 (AP) - Mickey Cochrane, one of baseball's great figures died today in Lake Forest Hospital. He was 59 years old.
A spokesman at the hospital said his death came after a long illness.
Mr. Cochrane, whose full name was Gordon Stanley Cochrane, lived with his wife in near-by Lake Bluff. He had been "in and out of our hospital several times over the last few years." George Caldwell, hospital administrator, said. Mr. Cochrane was admitted to the hospital Monday.
Also Called Black Mike
Black Mike, a nickname given Cochrane in the colorful realm of baseball in the Nineteen Thirties, became linked with the phrase "greatest catcher in the game."
Thirteen seasons as a player with the Philadelphia Athletics and as player and manager of the Detroit Tigers bore out the phrase.
During those years in the American League, from 1925 to 1937, Cochrane placed a .320 batting average in the records. He was elected to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1947.
Cochrane, who made his major league debut with the Athletics in 1925, was the American League's Most Valuable Player of 1928. He became the spark behind the plate on Connie Mack's great pennant-winning Philadelphia teams of 1929 through 1931.
With the A's and later with Detroit he became known for his durability by catching successive seasons. It was said of him that as a master of the mechanics of catching, he had no peer.
An Assist from Mack
When Mack decided to break up his championship team, he was reluctant to part with Cochrane. He did not stand in the way, however, when Cochrane was offered the managership of the Detroit Tigers after the 1933 season.
Cochrane's drive as a playing manager guided the Tigers to two successive pennants in 1934 and 1935. In 1934 he took over a team that had not taken part in a world series since 1909 when Ty Cobb was the star. He hit .320, caught Schoolboy Rowe in sixteen consecutive victories, and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the league.
The 1934 Series ended with a victory for the Gas House Gang from St. Louis. In 1935, the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs.
In 1937, Cochrane's playing career, and very nearly his life, came to an end at home plate in Yankee Stadium.
Having worked Cochrane to a count of 3 and 2, New York pitcher Bump Hadley hit him in the head with a pitched ball. Later X-rays showed skull fractures in three places.
He guided the Tigers as non-playing manager in 1938 and into 1939. In August of that year he was replaced by Del Baker.
Served in the Navy
Soon after the United States became involved in World War II, Cochrane applied for service into the Navy's health training program. Then 39 years old, he was accepted in 1942 as a lieutenant in the physical education branch under Lieut. Cmdr. Gene Tunney.
He served in the South Pacific and managed the Great Lakes Naval Training Station's baseball team.
In 1947 he was voted into the Hall of Fame with three other greats - Carl Hubbell, Frank Frisch and Lefty Grove, his battery mate on the Athletics. He received mention on 136 of the 161 ballots.
He came back to baseball in 1949 as a coach with the Athletics. To take the job he left Billings, Mont., where he operated a ranch and automobile sales agency.
A year later he was elavated to the post of general manager in charge of the club's farm teams.
It was a job Cochrane was to have only a matter of months. He resigned after Mack's sons, Roy and Earle, bought out their father's share in the team.
Honors kept coming to Black Mike. He was named with Bill Dickey of the Yankees as the best catcher of the half-century by the All-American Board of Baseball in 1952.
Toware the end of his career, he was a scout for the Yankees with headquarters in Detroit and afterward a scout for the Tigers. He then turned to public relations work.
Cochrane, whose first athletics prominence came as a Boston University halfback, was born in Bridgewater, Mass., on April 6, 1903.
He leaves his wife, Mary, and two daughters, Mrs. John Cobb of Denver and Mrs. Kenneth Bollman of Allentown, Pa. His only son, Gordon Stanley Jr. was killed in the Netherlands during World War II.