Over Heard

NOTES AND COMMENTS

February 20, 2000|By John O'Ren

THE opening-day photo of 1954's Orioles showed 39 whites and Jehosie Heard. That ratio hardly affected the universal euphoria; Baltimore was back in the majors. The Yankees and Red Sox, after all, were still lily white.

Few fans protested the absence of Satchel Paige, who had been the team's best relief pitcher the year before when it was in St. Louis; the Orioles quietly offered him no contract.

Heard, a left-hander from Alabama, had done well with Birmingham and Houston in the Negro Leagues, and in the high minors (16-12 with Portland in the 1953 Pacific Coast League).

Today, that 1954 name list is shrinking; obituaries have appeared for Clint Courtney, Vic Wertz, Junior Stephens, Bobby Young and others. Heard, too, has died, at 79, in Alabama.

The 1954 Orioles, a losing team, put him in the lineup all of twice, for a total of three innings, with no won-lost record. Then they dropped him. (Eventually, Joe Durham, an outfielder, replaced him as symbol.)

va02 In the 1950s he went on pitching, for Seattle, Charleston, Tulsa, Havana and other minor-league clubs -- 14 years, which is a career. All along, his aim seems to have been to place his pitches, rather than to sound off in sports pages.

Still and all, Baltimoreans may once again frown to learn only now that Jehosie Heard died Nov. 18, 1999.

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