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R. Hayworth, 98; Ex-Player Spent 50 Years in Baseball

September 27, 2002|From Associated Press

Ray Hayworth, who was the oldest surviving major league player, died Wednesday in High Point, N.C., an aide to his grandson, U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), confirmed Thursday. He was 98.

Hayworth, who worked in baseball for more than 50 years, spent 15 seasons in the majors as a catcher, almost all of them with the Detroit Tigers.

Hayworth came to the majors in 1926 and was a member of Detroit's World Series teams in 1934 and 1935. He set an American League record for most consecutive fielding chances by a catcher without an error at 439 from Sept. 2, 1931, to Aug. 29, 1932, and his glove is in the Hall of Fame. The record was broken by Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.

Hayworth also played with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants and the St. Louis Browns. He had a career batting average of .265.

Fred Smith, the Detroit Tigers' historian and secretary of the team's alumni organization, said Hayworth "was a good man."

"He was a good player, the kind you liked on the ball field," Smith said. "Ray always had time to talk to the kids. He was a real good guy."

After retiring in 1945, Hayworth worked for the Brooklyn Dodgers as a scout. In an interview with the Denver Post some years ago, he recalled scouting the Negro Leagues and assessing such top players as Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Jim Gilliam. Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947.

Hayworth later worked for the Chicago Cubs, the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, and the Montreal Expos. He retired from the Expos in 1973.

Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.

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