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Sonny Ruberto, Vern Benson and Paul Blair, former Reds figures, pass away

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  • Sonny Ruberto, Vern Benson and Paul Blair, former Reds figures, pass away

    Ruberto was a Red briefly in 1972, appearing in two games and going hitless in four at-bats.

    John (Sonny) Ruberto, 68, an undersized defense-minded catcher out of West Brighton’s old Markham Houses, who used a rifle arm and baseball savvy beyond his years to forge a career that led him from the North Shore’s rock-strewn fields of the '50s and '60s to the major leagues, died Monday at a hospice in Ave Maria, Fla.

    The cause was cancer, according to family members.
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    Vern Benson coached for the Reds in the 1960s and 1970s.

    GRANITE QUARRY - Mr. Vernon A. Benson, 89, of Granite Quarry, passed away Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at The Laurels of Salisbury.

    Born Sept. 19, 1924, in Rowan County, he was the son of the late Ruth Foster Benson and William Luther Benson. He was educated in Rowan County schools, graduated from Granite Quarry High School and attended Catawba College.

    Mr. Benson was a professional baseball player, was signed to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1943, signed by the famous Connie Mack, owner and manager. His sports career was interrupted at a young age as Vernon courageously served with the U.S. Army in World War II under General Patton, receiving the EAME Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star. He then returned from military service to play with the St. Louis Cardinals and won a starting third base position in 1951. He also coached the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants; and served as a major league scout. He also played baseball in Cuba with Fidel Castro in the stands. Mr. Benson also managed winter league teams in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.
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    Blair, who died last year but whose death was not mentioned in this forum, was with Cincinnati in 1979. He played in 75 games for the club.

    I have the unfortunate task of passing along news that former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair died tonight.

    From what I understand, Blair collapsed in a Pikesville bowling alley. He was 69.

    Blair played his first 13 seasons with the Orioles and was part of the 1966, '69, '70 and '71 World Series teams. He won two titles with the Orioles and two more with the Yankees.
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  • #2
    You forgot to mention that George Lerchen has passed away as well. He played for the 1953 Reds who were managed by Rogers Hornsby.


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