Other Notable Deaths


May 10, 2006

Jim Delsing, 80, an outstanding defensive outfielder who played 10 seasons in the American League but was remembered mostly for his role in baseball's most famous stunt, died of complications from cancer Thursday at his home in Chesterfield, Mo.

On Aug. 19, 1951, the last-place St. Louis Browns were playing the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a doubleheader at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Bill Veeck, the Browns' owner, was about to seal his reputation as a master showman, and Mr. Delsing was about to become the answer to a baseball trivia question.

Hoping for headlines other than "Browns Lose Again," Mr. Veeck had secretly given a major league contract to the 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel, who had been working in show business. Mr. Veeck instructed the Browns' manager, Zach Taylor, to send Mr. Gaedel to the plate in the first inning as a pinch-hitter for Frank Saucier, who had started in center field.

With Tigers catcher Bob Swift on his knees, pitcher Bob Cain threw four straight balls, walking Mr. Gaedel, who was wearing uniform No. 1/8 and holding a miniature bat. Mr. Gaedel went down to first base, and Mr. Taylor summoned Mr. Delsing, the Browns' regular center fielder, to run for him.

"His strike zone was only a couple inches high," Mr. Delsing told Murray Chass of The New York Times on the 50th anniversary of the stunt. "I trot over there, he gets off the bag, pats me on the derriere, says good luck and walks back to the dugout."

In his memoir Veeck as in Wreck, written with Ed Linn, Mr. Veeck said, "If the thing had been done right, Delsing, running for Gaedel, would have scored and we would have won the game, 1-0."

But Mr. Delsing went only as far as third base, and the Browns lost, 6-2.

A native of Rudolph, Wis., Mr. Delsing made his debut with the Chicago White Sox in 1948 and later played for the Yankees, Browns, Tigers, the White Sox again, and the Kansas City Athletics. He had a career batting average of .255.

Mr. Gaedel died at age 36 in 1961. Mr. Delsing reprised his role in the stunt in a 50th anniversary commemoration at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. At times he reflected on his niche in baseball as the answer to the question: Who ran for Eddie Gaedel? "A lot of people say Maris hit 61," Mr. Delsing once told the Chicago Sun-Times, "but I'm the only one who ran for a midget."

Karel Appel, 85, an internationally renowned Dutch painter whose impetuous, color-laden canvases were among the most vibrant hallmarks of the postwar European art movement known as Cobra, which he helped found, died May 3 at his home in Zurich, Switzerland.

With several colleagues, including the Danish artist Asger Jorn and the Belgian artist known as Corneille, Mr. Appel founded Cobra in 1948 at an international conference in Paris. The movement's original name was Reflex, but it came to be called Cobra, an acronym for Copenhagen, Denmark, Brussels, Belgium, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, the cities from which its founders came.

The Cobra aesthetic - abstract, spontaneous, expressionistic, riotous with color - was a shot across the bow of the de Stijl movement, which then dominated Dutch art with its rigid insistence on geometric form. It was also a reaction against the hegemony of French Surrealism.

Cobra was short-lived; its members exhibited together only through the early 1950s. But their work is often credited with rejuvenating Dutch modern art in the postwar period and has had enduring importance in the years since.

The Cobra artists considered painting to be a window onto the human psyche, and their art often displayed a primal, almost childlike vitality. Mr. Appel was no exception: In his best-known work, he laid on saturated color with such thick, sweeping strokes that the canvases became sculptural, almost alive. (His paintings were often likened to the work of Willem de Kooning.)

Some critics discerned violence or even madness in Mr. Appel's work, with its liberal use of red and its semifigurative images of grotesque limbs and distorted, grimacing faces. But to other viewers, the unrestrained masses of paint, which Mr. Appel sometimes squeezed onto the canvas straight from the tube, embodied the life force itself.

In later years, he turned to sculpture, producing works of painted wood and colorful rigid polyester.

Still later sculptures were of aluminum, with parts that could be moved.

As he described them in an interview quoted in the reference work Contemporary Artists: "I hinge the ears so that you can play with them, and they move in the wind as well, which changes the whole shape of the sculpture. The toy principle, you know."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.