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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / Tom Sturdivant

Former World Series Yankees pitcher

March 03, 2009|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Tom Sturdivant, 78, a pitcher for several major league teams who had the most success with the New York Yankees, winning 16 games for the Bronx Bombers in 1956 and again in 1957, died Saturday at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City. The cause of death was not announced.

A native of Gordon, Kan., Sturdivant was born April 28, 1930, and grew up in Oklahoma City. He was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1948 and made his major league debut with the team in 1955, when he was 24. He relied on a variety of pitches -- a knuckleball, curveball and fastball -- to become one of the Yankees' best pitchers in 1956 and 1957.

In 1956, he was 16-8 with a 3.30 earned-run average and was ranked fifth in the league in victories and eighth in ERA. In the World Series that year, he pitched a complete game 6-2 victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Don Larsen hurled his perfect game against the Dodgers the next day.

Whitey Ford, Sturdivant, Larsen, Bob Turley and Johnny Kucks threw five consecutive complete games in that series -- a feat that has not been accomplished since.

Sturdivant won 16 games for the Yankees the next season but lost only six and led the league with a .727 winning percentage. He had a 2.54 ERA and struck out 118 in 201 2/3 innings. He pitched in two games against the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series, which Milwaukee won.

Sturdivant hurt his arm in 1958 and ended up with a 3-6 record. He was traded to the Kansas City A's in 1959 and ended up playing with six different teams before finishing his career with the New York Mets in 1964.

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