Sports

Eddie Basinski, Who Played (*99*) the Infield and the Fiddle, Dies at 99

Eddie Basinski, an infielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the Forties who, in an uncommon mixture of talents, was additionally a live performance violinist, died on Saturday at a care facility in Gladstone, Ore., close to Portland. He was 99.

His loss of life was introduced by his son Dave.

Basinski had been the second-oldest former main leaguer. George Elder, 100, an outfielder for the 1949 St. Louis Browns, is the oldest.

Basinski, who had taken classical violin classes since childhood, performed with the University of Buffalo’s symphony orchestra earlier than embarking on his main league career in 1944, a time when baseball rosters had lost many gamers to service in World War II. (He was deferred from navy service as a result of he had poor eyesight.) He performed in 39 video games for the Dodgers in his rookie season, largely at second base, and in one other 108 video games in 1945, filling in at shortstop for the future Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese, who was in the Navy.

Basinski was despatched to the minors when Reese returned to Brooklyn in 1946. He joined the Pirates in 1947 and performed in 56 video games.

He later performed in the Pacific Coast League, largely for the Portland Beavers, and serenaded followers there along with his violin. He retired from baseball after the 1959 season.

Basinski had one other brush with the baseball world when he was amongst some three dozen old-time main leaguers whose names offered the lyrics for the jazz pianist and singer Dave Frishberg’s 1969 tune “Van Lingle Mungo” (Its title is the title of fastball pitcher with the Dodgers and the New York Giants in the Nineteen Thirties and ’40s). Basinski was the final survivor of that group.

The closing stanza goes:

John Antonelli, Ferris Fain
Frankie Crosetti, Johnny Sain
Harry Brecheen and Lou Boudreau
Frankie Gustine and Claude Passeau
Eddie Basinski, Ernie Lombardi, Hughie Mulcahy,
Van Lingle … Van Lingle Mungo.

Edwin Frank Basinski was born in Buffalo on Nov. 4, 1922, considered one of seven youngsters of Walter and Sophie Basinski. His father was a machinist. His mom, who performed the piano, inspired him to take violin classes when he was a toddler. He tried out for his highschool baseball group, however he was a thin boy who wore thick glasses, his eyesight having been broken by rheumatic fever at age 4, and the coach determined he didn’t match the profile of a ballplayer.

He obtained a level in mechanical engineering from the University of Buffalo (now the University at Buffalo), nevertheless it didn’t have a baseball group. He labored at the Curtiss-Wright plane plant in Buffalo and starred for semipro baseball groups, catching the consideration of a Dodger scout. He obtained a $5,000 bonus for signing with Brooklyn and made his debut in opposition to the Cincinnati Reds on May 20, 1944.

Basinski’s Dodger teammates, whose acquaintance with the musical world might have been restricted to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” ribbed him for his violin abilities.

Soon after his arrival at Ebbets Field, Basinski was in the Dodger clubhouse, in uniform, enjoying Strauss waltzes, when Manager Leo Durocher, who was evidently skeptical about stories that Basinski was an expert violinist, walked in.

“He stopped and looked at me and said, ‘Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch,’” Basinski mentioned in a 2011 interview with The New York Times.

“While he was shaving, I was right next to him, giving it to him with my violin,” Basinski mentioned.

Basinski had a .244 career main league batting common.

After leaving baseball, he labored as an account supervisor at Consolidated Freightways of Portland for 31 years.

In addition to his son Dave, Basinski is survived by two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Another son, Jeff, died in 2011.

Basinski instructed The Times that there was a relationship between enjoying the violin and fielding floor balls. “I had great quickness because of the bowing and the fingering, which just has to be lightning quick,” he mentioned. “There is a great correlation.”

And he recalled a recital he carried out at house plate between video games of a Pacific Coast League doubleheader.

“I got a tremendous ovation,” he mentioned, “and had a good doubleheader too.”

Back to top button