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Passings / Johnny Blanchard

Pinch-hit specialist

March 26, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Johnny Blanchard, 76, who played on five World Series- winning teams with the New York Yankees and was nicknamed "Super-Sub" for his versatility, died Wednesday of a heart attack at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.

Born in Minneapolis on Feb. 26, 1933, Blanchard starred in football, basketball and baseball at the city's Central High School. He was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent on July 3, 1951.

He was with the Bronx Bombers from 1959 to 1965 and played several positions, including left and right field, first base and catcher. A pinch-hitting specialist, he holds the record for World Series pinch hits with 10. He hit .345 in the Yankees' five straight World Series appearances from 1960 through 1964.

His best full season with the Yankees came in 1961, when he hit .305 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs in 93 games. He hit four straight home runs over a three-game period to tie a major league record.

His Yankee tenure came to an end May 3, 1965, when he was traded with Rollie Sheldon to the Kansas City Athletics for Doc Edwards. He played 52 games with the A's before finishing the 1965 season with the Milwaukee Braves. He retired at the end of the season.

With the Yankees, he was a close friend of center fielder Mickey Mantle and was one of the honorary pallbearers at his funeral in 1995.

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