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    Marv Rotblatt

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    TeleFrank
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    Marv Rotblatt

    Post by TeleFrank on Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:28 pm

    Have no memory of this guy but his obit is interesting. Here was a guy who was determined to play ball and did. 






     A star left-handed pitcher at the University of Illinois in the 1940s, Marv Rotblatt had a modest major league career with the Chicago White Sox in the late 1940s and early 1950s before settling into a long career selling insurance.
    But despite the brevity of his time in the majors, Mr. Rotblatt left an interesting mark.
    At 5 feet 6 inches tall — he exaggerated his height an inch or two above that in official baseball documents — he was one of the shortest pitchers to play in the majors. He was a Jewish ballplayer at a time when there were few in Major League Baseball.
    Mr. Rotblatt also is thought to be the first major league pitcher ever brought in from a bullpen in a golf cart. He appeared on the Groucho Marx quiz show "You Bet Your Life" and is the namesake of a long-running intramural softball event at a small college in Minnesota.
    "He had a lot of interesting things happen to him for a not very storied major league career," said his son Steven.
    A Skokie resident, Mr. Rotblatt, 85, died of kidney failure Tuesday, July 16, at Evanston Hospital, his son said.
    He was born Marvin Joseph Rotblatt in Chicago to immigrant parents. His father, a lamp-maker, had come to the U.S. from Poland, while his mother was Bohemian. Mr. Rotblatt grew up in Albany Park and was a star pitcher at Von Steuben High School.
    He then gained fame at the University of Illinois, where he won 25 games before turning pro after he graduated in June 1948.
    Mr. Rotblatt was not known for his speed. His fastball maxed out at a relatively leisurely 82 mph, his son said. However, he threw a "wicked curve," his son said, and a great change-up.
    In July 1948, the White Sox signed Mr. Rotblatt as an amateur free agent. He had been at a Brooklyn Dodgers tryout camp at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn when he ran across the team's legendary general manager Branch Rickey, who was fascinated by Mr. Rotblatt's change-up.
    "Mr. Rickey said to me, 'Son, how do you grip the ball?'" Mr. Rotblatt told the Tribune in 1987.
    After sharing his secret with Rickey, Mr. Rotblatt became suspicious that Brooklyn's pitchers began teaching Mr. Rotblatt's grip. "It's possible I had something to do with it," he told the Tribune.
    Mr. Rotblatt made his major league debut almost immediately after signing with the White Sox but was ineffective in seven games. He then honed his craft in the minor leagues, posting strong performance for the minor-league, Class B-level Waterloo, Iowa, White Hawks in 1948 and with the Memphis Chicks in the Double-A Southern Association in 1950. Mr. Rotblatt returned briefly to the majors in 1950, and pitched well for the Sox in 1951, throwing in 26 games and delivering a 3.40 ERA. In July 1951, the Sox sent Mr. Rotblatt back down to Memphis, Tenn., where he pitched well.
    Mr. Rotblatt is believed to be the first major league pitcher to have been brought onto the field from the bullpen on a golf cart. Frank Lane, then the Sox general manager, came up with the idea of using a golf cart to carry pitchers from the bullpen.
    "It just so happened that my dad was in the bullpen the first day they tried that," his son said.
    Another highlight of Mr. Rotblatt's career was appearing on Marx's TV quiz show "You Bet Your Life." The program requested a local Chicago sports figure, and none of the better-known ballplayers wanted to appear on it. The category Mr. Rotblatt was asked about was sports nicknames, and he did well, his son said. Although Mr. Rotblatt recognized a slew of obscure monikers, he was tripped up on an obvious one — football legend Red Grange's nickname, the Galloping Ghost.
    In August 1951, during the Korean War, Mr. Rotblatt had to put his baseball career on hold when he was drafted into the Army. He never went to Korea, however, instead serving in Texas and playing pickup baseball with other enlisted major leaguers, his son said.
    After his Army service ended, Mr. Rotblatt suffered arm troubles and never again pitched in the majors. However, he remained in professional baseball long afterward, hurling from 1954 through 1957 for minor league teams affiliated with the White Sox, the Milwaukee Braves, the Washington Senators and the Detroit Tigers. He also pitched in 1955 for a team in Monterrey, Mexico.
    "He just wouldn't give it up," his son said. "He kept going down in (levels) in the minors, but he played anywhere that would take him."
    Even after his minor league career ended in 1957, Mr. Rotblatt continued to play ball in less formal settings, including for semipro baseball teams in Chicago for the next several years, his son said.

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