Blefary in 1970
|Outfielder / First baseman|
|Born: July 5, 1943|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died: January 28, 2001 (aged 57)|
Pompano Beach, Florida
|April 14, 1965, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 4, 1972, for the San Diego Padres|
|Runs batted in||382|
|Career highlights and awards|
Curtis Leroy "Clank" Blefary (July 5, 1943 – January 28, 2001) was an American professional baseball left fielder who played in Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles (1965–1968), Houston Astros (1969), New York Yankees (1970–1971), Oakland Athletics (1971–1972) and the San Diego Padres (1972). A native of Brooklyn, New York, he batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
In his debut year of 1965, Blefary hit .260 with 22 home runs and 70 RBI, winning both the American League Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year awards. The following season, he was a member of the Orioles team that won the 1966 World Series.
Nicknamed "Clank" by Frank Robinson, in part for his below-average fielding abilities, Blefary started his career in the outfield, tried at first base, then switched to catcher, in an effort to keep his bat in the lineup. On April 27, 1968, he caught Tom Phoebus's no-hitter against the Red Sox. Blaming his constant defensive shuffling for his offensive decline, Blefary was sent to Houston in 1969 in the deal that brought Mike Cuellar to the Orioles.
On May 4, 1969, Blefary, who was playing first base participated in all of the Astros record-tying seven double plays in a game against the San Francisco Giants.
Blefary was used as a part-time player by the Yankees, and in 1971 he was traded to the Athletics and in 1972 to the Padres. After retiring in 1972, he tried unsuccessfully to continue his career in baseball as a coach. He worked as a sheriff, bartender, truck driver, and later owned a night club. Even as his health failed in his later years, he hoped to secure a professional coaching job, but his only connection with baseball was as a volunteer coach for Northeast High School in Fort Lauderdale.
In the last years of his life, Blefary suffered from chronic pancreatitis. He had hip replacement surgery in the mid-1990s and experienced a variety of health and financial problems, including alcoholism and depression. Blefary died at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida on January 28, 2001, at the age of 57 of chronic pancreatitis and other related ailments. His last wish was to be buried in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. Although the park was nearly demolished when he died, his wife Lana was able to honor his request to scatter his ashes in Memorial Stadium. The Babe Ruth Museum supplied the home plate used in the penultimate game at the stadium and located it in the precise spot where it had been used. The ceremony was held on May 24, 2001. "He loved Baltimore, and he loved his fans," said his wife. "He was a lifelong student of the game."
- Goldstein, Richard. "Curt Blefary, 57, Outfielder And A.L. Rookie of the Year", The New York Times, January 30, 2011. Accessed May 16, 2016. "A native of Brooklyn, Blefary was a high school baseball and football star in Mahwah, N.J., and signed with the Yankees in 1962 for a reported $40,000 out of Wagner College on Staten Island."
- Henshell, John. Curt Blefary biography page, Society for American Baseball Research. Accessed May 16, 2016.
- Jennifer Frey (February 26, 1995). "Baseball; 'I've Walked in Their Shoes'". The New York Times.