Conrado "Connie" Marrero died today in Cuba, just two days shy of his 103rd birthday. The former Washington Senator was the oldest living big-league ballplayer.
Marrero, a junk-throwing righty, was a star in Cuba before signing with Washington in 1950 at the age of 38. He had a decent five seasons for some terrible Senators teams, but was known more for his omnipresent cigar, his broken English, and his fire-hydrant physique.
In just his fifth big league game, Marrero struck out Boston's Ted Williams with a dancing knuckleball. According to specious news accounts, he patted himself on the chest as he walked off the mound, saying, "Gude. Me want more money."
Three decades later, a Post reporter visited Cuba and talked to Marrero about facing Williams. He told one of his favorite stories, about another game in which Williams went deep twice. The old pitcher would never forget: once off a slider, once off a knuckler.
"After the game, he put his arm around me under the stands and said, 'This was my day,' " Marrero recalled. "I told Williams, 'Every day is your day.' "
The respect was apparently mutual. Not a lot of pitchers back then taught the ball to do the jitterbug en route to the plate. "That guy throws you everything except the ball," Williams reportedly said.
Marrero retired to Havana, where even into his 90s would welcome tour groups of SABR members and regale them with tales of his career. It wasn't until 2011 that Marrero began to get his MLB pension payouts that he should have been receiving for four decades.
With Marrero's death, the title of oldest living ballplayer falls to Mike Sandlock, an infielder for the Braves, Dodgers, and Pirates in the '40s and '50s.