Jim Busby, Oriole and Senator in 1950s, dies in Georgia at 69 He was among AL's best as fielder, base stealer

July 11, 1996|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Jim Busby, a onetime All-Star outfielder who played center field for the Orioles and Washington Senators in the 1950s, died of a heart attack Monday in Augusta, Ga. He was 69.

Busby played and coached in a 25-year major-league career that began in 1950 when he was one of the Chicago White Sox's first draft choices to be offered a signing bonus. His base-stealing skills, coupled with those of teammate Minnie Minoso, helped give the team the nickname "Go-Go Sox."

"Jim was one of the premier center fielders of his time," said Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. "He could run down balls with the best of them. He was always in great physical shape and he was a terrific guy. He wasn't real outgoing, but he had a good, dry sense of humor."

Busby, a native of Kenedy, Texas, attended Texas Christian University on a football and track scholarship but turned his focus to baseball after being recruited by TCU's undermanned baseball team and helping it to its only Southwest Conference title.

He twice led American League outfielders in putouts and once in fielding percentage. He was among the top five in stolen bases three times and hit a career-high .312 for the Senators in 1953.

He was named to the AL All-Star team in 1951. In 1952, with Chicago, he averaged 3.28 put-outs per game, which still ranks among the top 10 all-time.

Busby played outfield for the Orioles in 1957 and 1958 before returning to coach in Baltimore in 1961. He was a player-coach for the start-up Houston Colt .45s in 1962 and for the Houston Astros in 1963-1967. He closed out his major-league career by serving as third base coach for the Atlanta Braves from 1968 to 1975.

A longtime resident and orange grove operator in Leesburg, Fla., Busby retired to a hunting farm in Millen, Ga., in 1978.

Funeral services will be held today in Millen. He is survived by his wife, Marie, of Millen; daughters Vicky Murphy of Leesburg and Dale Anne Busby of Omaha, Neb.; and sons Bob Meyers of Dallas, Tex., and James Busby of Augusta.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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