Clem Labine, a relief pitcher who threw two of baseball's most significant shutouts in his role as a part-time starter and pitched for two Dodgers World Series championship teams in the 1950s, died Friday. He was 80.
Labine had been in a coma at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach (Fla.) for more than a week following brain surgery to explore a mass in his head, the team announced, and hospital spokeswoman Kim Leach-Wright confirmed his death.
Labine was hospitalized Feb. 13 because of pneumonia, shortly after completing a stint as an instructor at an adult "fantasy camp" at the Dodgers' training camp.
"He was not recognized the way he should have been. He was a great pitcher, but he was surrounded by too many stars," said Tommy Lasorda, the former Dodgers manager who was Labine's teammate. "He played the game the way it was supposed to be played. He gave it everything he had, he got along with everyone and everyone loved him."
Labine spent 13 seasons in the major leagues, mostly as a bullpen specialist with the Dodgers, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles. He also pitched with Detroit, Pittsburgh and briefly for the New York Mets.
"I always thought Clem would've had a great career as a starting pitcher," former teammate Carl Erskine said. "But he told me, 'I didn't want to start. I liked the pressure of coming into the game with everything on the line.'"
Labine was a central character in The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn's book of reminiscences with the old Dodgers, which told of how the pitcher's son, Jay, lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine during the Vietnam War.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; son Clem Labine Jr. of Woonsocket, R.I.; daughters Barbara Grubbs of Reno, Nev.; Gail Ponanski of Smithfield, R.I.; Kim Archambault of Smithfield; and Susan Gershkoff of Lincoln, R.I.; five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
METS: Pitcher Pedro Martinez can start throwing today as part of his recuperation from October rotator cuff surgery.
- The team renewed the contract of right-hander Aaron Heilman.
- Chan Ho Park couldn't make his scheduled start because he didn't have a work visa.
Instead, Park threw 35 pitches is a simulated game against minor leaguers.
PHILLIES: Philadelphia renewed the contract of National League MVP Ryan Howard and gave the first baseman a $900,000 salary after the sides failed to agree on a long-term deal.
Cardinals: World Series MVP David Eckstein sat out Friday's spring training game against the Mets after experiencing soreness in his side, an injury that bothered him for a month late last season.
PADRES: Tony Gwynn has a street named in his honor outside Petco Park, and on July 21 the team plans to unveil a statue of the Hall of Famer-elect.
RANGERS: Michael Young and Texas finalized an $80 million, five-year contract extension.
ATHLETICS: Center fielder Mark Kotsay returned to California to seek medical advice on his troublesome back.