2005-11-30 05:10:40 UTC
but no shrinking violet. He often confronted the
racism he encountered at spring-training sites in
Florida. When he was arrested there in 1954 for
crossing a street while the light was red, he had
this to say to the judge:
'I'm a Puerto Rican and on my island a Negro and a
white person go to school together, dance together
and get married,' he told Peary. 'But here I go to a
restaurant and there's a sign that says 'For Whites
Only' ... so when I saw white people crossing the
street when the green light came on, I figured that
colored people could only cross when the light was
Flashy First Baseman Vic Power Dies At 78
FROM: Knight Ridder ~
By Frank Fitzpatrick
Vic Power, a flamboyant first baseman who played during sad but
historic seasons for both the Phillies and Athletics, died Tuesday at
78 in his native Puerto Rico.
According to a family member, Power succumbed to cancer at a hospital
in Bayamon, a suburb of San Juan.
In 12 major-league seasons, Power won seven Gold Gloves and was named
to four all-star teams. He also tied a major-league record by stealing
home twice in a 1958 game. He hit 126 home runs and had a career
batting average of .284.
The dark-skinned Power seemed poised to become the New York Yankees'
first black player when he led the American Association in hitting
with a .359 average in 1953. But the Yankees, who wouldn't integrate
until Elston Howard joined them in 1955, traded him to the Athletics
before the 1954 season.
That would be Power's first season in the major leagues and the last
in Philadelphia for the once-proud Athletics, who had been troubled by
poor attendance and mostly losing baseball for decades.
"Philadelphia was such a miserable team," Power would say of 1954 when
the Athletics went 51-103 and finished last.
Then in 1964, the memorable season in which Philadelphia would
squander a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 to play, he was acquired by the
Phillies after first-baseman Frank Thomas broke a finger sliding into
"At the time I thought I had a chance to appear in my first World
Series," he told author Danny Peary for his 1994 book "We Played the
Neither of those Philadelphia seasons were productive ones for a
player who in between was one of the American League's best first
In his rookie season, Power hit just .255 for the doomed A's, with
eight homers and 38 RBIs. Transplanted to Kansas City a year later, he
would have his best overall season, batting .319 with 19 homers and 76
The `64 Phillies picked him up from the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 9,
a day after Thomas, himself a midseason acquisition, was injured.
Power was one of nine players manager Gene Mauch used at first base
that ill-fated season. In the 18 games he played there before injuring
a finger himself, the 36-year-old would hit just .208 with no home
runs and 3 RBIs.
He was back with the Angels in 1965 but after hitting just .259 as a
part-time player, he retired and returned to Puerto Rico.
A native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Power was a spectacularly flashy
fielder, a trait that often earned him criticism during that era of
He caught everything one-handed, swept his glove sideward with a
flourish after receiving the ball, and jumped toward every throw, no
matter its location.
Opposing players and sportswriters branded him a "hotdog" or a
"showboat," but Power won the Gold Glove at his position every year
from 1958 through 1964.
In addition to the A's, Angels and Phillies, he played with the
Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. He was an American League
all-star in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960.
Perhaps his most memorable game came Aug. 14, 1958, with the Indians,
to whom he had been traded for Roger Maris. Power stole home in the
eighth inning and then again in the 10th to give Cleveland a 10-9 win
The charge was dropped.
Funeral arrangements are pending.