Hal Naragon, the Tigers’ bullpen coach and right-hand man to famed pitching coach Johnny Sain on the world champion 1968 Tigers, died Saturday at the age of 90.
Naragon was in Detroit for the 50th anniversary celebration of the ’68 title last fall. Here he is with the other surviving members of the team posing for a photo at the site of Tiger Stadium seated between Mickey Lolich and Daryl Patterson, second from right in the front row).
The 1968 World Series Champions are back home celebrating 50 years. pic.twitter.com/ULB57Fz9I9
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 7, 2018
Narragon, who caught three Hall of Fame pitchers on the 111-win Cleveland Indians in 1954, was profiled just last week at Cleveland.com:
Often a former player will make their way to Progressive Field, with fanfare, his walk to a seat delayed by fans wanting to say hi or ask for an autograph. Sometimes media will seek interviews on the field, offering a chance for the player to reminisce about his glory days in Cleveland.
Sometimes, though, that appearance is quiet, under the radar, and not about attention. It might just be about a 90 year-old man seeking to take in a ballgame with his wife and family.
Like when Hal Naragon visited recently.
Naragon played 10 seasons in the Majors before moving on to become a well-respected coach. This year marks the 50th since he left baseball.
He was part of three World Series teams—as a player with Cleveland in 1954, and as a coach with Minnesota in 1965 and coach with Detroit in 1968. Raised in Barberton, he formed a battery in high school with Bo Schembechler and remembers a famous handshake with Indians owner and baseball pioneer Bill Veeck.
“We made it to the finals, and got beat in the last inning,” he said of his high school team. (The team had been undefeated and lost in extra innings.) “He (Schembechler) was a pretty good pitcher, a left-handed thrower. He loved the game of baseball, he really wanted to be a baseball player. He liked it very much.”
Naragon, too, wanted to be a baseball player. While his teammate would eventually find fame as the University of Michigan football coach, Naragon saw a chance to play baseball.
Deeply saddened by this news. Hal was an amazing person to speak to—about pitching, about the philosophies of Johnny Sain and how they handled the clashing personalities on both the Pennant-winning 1966 Twins and 1968 championship Tigers. https://t.co/9fLTVbaGBZ
— Sridhar Pappu (@SridharPappu) September 3, 2019