Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Ex-Yankee Blanchard dies
TAMPA, Fla. -- Johnny Blanchard, who played in five consecutive World Series for the New York Yankees in the early 1960s, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Minnesota. He was 76.
A key player off the bench when the Yankees won five AL pennants from 1960-64, Blanchard batted .345 (10-for-29) in the World Series overall and hit a pair of home runs as New York defeated Cincinnati in the 1961 Series.
"This is a sad day," Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said. "Johnny was a good friend and a great teammate. He was proud of being a Yankee and always fun to be around. We'll miss him."
Blanchard was among the fan favorites at the Yankees' fantasy camps, held twice a year at the team's spring training complex.
"Johnny was a funny guy and a great storyteller," former Yankees pitcher Bob Turley said. "He was always happy. Everybody loved him and loved being around him."
Blanchard was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and made his major league debut four years later at 22. He is one of four players in Yankees history to homer in four consecutive at-bats, accomplishing the feat over three games from July 21-26, 1961.
"He would do anything it took to help win a ballgame," said Ralph Houk, who managed the Yankees from 1961-63. "Johnny was a true Yankee, there's no doubt about that."