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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 1, 2008 at 3:28 PM

Buzzie Bavasi: 1914-2008

Sad news given us moments ago that Emil Joseph “Buzzie” Bavasi has passed away in California after a short illness. He was 93.
Bavasi was, of course, the father of Mariners GM Bill Bavasi and patriarch of a multi-generational baseball family. Not to mention a reader of this blog. Bavasi would email myself and Larry Stone from time to time. I once had a lengthy email exchange with the longtime Brookyln and Los Angeles Dodgers GM about his years spent in my hometown of Montreal in the 1940s, where the Dodgers had their Class AAA farm club, the Royals, during the Jackie Robinson era right on through to the 1960s. Bavasi played a key role in Robinson’s integration into the major leagues in 1947, after he’d played for the Royals in 1946. It was great to see a guy in his 90s, obviously an “old school” baseball guy, working a computer as often as Bavasi did.
Bavasi’s clubs won eight NL pennants and four World Series titles during his 17 years at the helm from 1951-68. He built their only championship team in Brooklyn in 1955.
Later on, he was part-owner of the San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1977 and executive vice-president of the California Angels from 1978 to 1984.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Evit, and four sons, Peter (a former Toronto Blue Jays founding president and the guy who gave Pat Gillick his first big front office job), Chris, Bob and Bill. Bill Bavasi was here in Cleveland today, but caught the first flight he could back out to California to be with his family.
I can say that Buzzie was truly proud of his son’s work as a GM and fiercely loyal in standing up for him. Never discussed their relationship with Bill, but it could not have been easy trying to live up to the standard set by his father’s legacy. Part of me is truly sad, today, that Buzzie will never get to see his son win that division title he was so close to in Anaheim back in 1995. And that Bill will never get to do have his father see him do it either. But as I said, the father was truly proud of his son and would say it in emails, even when he was imploring me to “go easy on him” — tongue half-planted in his cheek.
This game has plenty of superstars. But it’s when the characters depart, the ones who have stood the test of time and helped shape the game’s history, that it’s time to pause and remember. He’ll be missed.

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