Gus Zer­nial


The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS -

Gus Zer­nial, 87, a pow­er­ful slug­ger who was one of base­ball’s lead­ing home-run hit­ters of the 1950s, died Jan. 20 of con­ges­tive heart fail­ure at a hospice in Fresno, Calif.

Af­ter hit­ting 29 home runs for the Chicago White Sox in 1950, Mr. Zer­nial was traded to the Philadel­phia Ath­let­ics four games into the 1951 sea­son. He blos­somed in Philadel­phia and led the Amer­i­can League that year with 33 home runs and 129 RBI.

In four of the next five sea­sons, Mr. Zer­nial was among the league’s top five home-run hit­ters. He had a ca­reer high of 42 in 1953, when he fin­ished one be­hind Cleve­land’s Al Rosen.

Mr. Zer­nial made the all-star team in 1953 and had 100 or more RBI four times in his 11-year ma­jor league ca­reer. From 1950 to 1957, he hit more home runs than any other player in the Amer­i­can League, in­clud­ing Hall of Famers Ted Wil­liams and Mickey Man­tle. He re­tired in 1959 with 237 home runs and a life­time bat­ting av­er­age of .265.

Mr. Zer­nial, who was born in Beau­mont, Tex., served as a Navy ra­dio op­er­a­tor dur­ing World War II. He set­tled in Fresno in 1967 and worked for decades as a sports broad­caster.

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