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Danny O'Connell

Sport: Baseball

Born: January 21, 1927

Died: October 2, 1969

Town: Paterson

Daniel Francis O’Connell was born January 21, 1927 in Clifton and grew up in Paterson. He learned to play baseball on the teams sponsored by Sam LeVine, a clothing store owner who bankrolled youth and adult teams in town. LeVine was instrumental in the development of many Paterson athletes, including Larry Doby. Danny attended St. Bonaventure High School in Paterson, where he was a standout infielder and pitcher on the baseball team. He signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. He spent four years in the team’s minor league system as a third baseman, batting around .300 each year and hitting well with men on base.

At then end of the 1949 season, the Pirates purchased Danny for $50,000. After a half-season at Class-AAA Indianapolis, Danny joined the Bucs in July and took over as the everyday shortstop. He batted .292 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. The following season Danny batted .294. That was enough to convince the Milwaukee Braves to offer the Pirates a package that included veterans Sam Jethroe, Sid Gordon and Max Surkont.

Danny did not hit well with the Braves. Midway through the 1957, they shipped him to the New York Giants along with Bobby Thomson for Red Schoendienst. The trade helped Milwaukee win the pennant. Danny accompanied the Giants to San Francisco—where he scored the first MLB run on the West Coast—but failed to reignite his career. He fdid not make the club in the spring of 1960 and spent the year at Triple-A with Tacoma.

Danny played well enough in the minors at 33 to get a shot with the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. He made the club as a third baseman (he had played second with the Braves and Giants) and had a terrific year for a 100-loss club. Danny led Washington in at bats, hits, runs, doubles and walks. Danny yielded to the Senators’ youth movement in 1962, backing up 26-year-old Bob Johnson. He batted a respectable .263.

The Senators cut Danny after the season but offered him a coaching job in their system. He played, coached and managed for the York White Roses of the Eastern League in 1963. He later coached two season with the Senators, and got into private business in the off-season. On a fall day in 1969, Danny was involved in an auto accident near his home in Clifton. He died of his injuries at age 42.


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