Former White Sox player Pete Ward passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 84, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. During his nine-year major league career, the Canadian-born player appeared around the diamond as a third baseman, outfielder, and first baseman for three different franchises.
Born in Montreal, Ward began his career upon signing with the Orioles in 1958. His strong numbers at the plate carried him through the minor leagues before earning him a few dozen at-bats with Baltimore in September 1962. That offseason on January 14, 1963, he was a piece of the trade that sent Hall of Fame pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, shortstop Ron Hansen and outfielder Dave Nicholson to the White Sox for Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith.
Following the trade, the Sox made Ward their everyday third-baseman and he responded with the best season of his career. During his impressive 1963 stretch, Ward slashed .295/.353/.483, with 177 hits (second in the AL), 34 doubles (also second in the AL), 22 home runs, 84 RBI, and .835 OPS. His stellar rookie campaign was enough for a ninth-place finish in MVP voting and runner-up for Rookie of the Year.
After another solid season in 1964 that had him land sixth on the MVP list, Ward’s production fell off drastically thereafter. A back injury can be partly to blame, as the left-handed hitter failed to bat above .250 for the rest of his Chicago tenure. He would appear in just 84 games in 1966 before playing regularly as a left fielder in 1967 and again at third base in 1968. He was eventually traded to the Yankees in December 1969 for pitcher Mickey Scott and would finish his career in the Bronx.
By the time of his retirement, Ward amassed a .254/.339/.405 (776-for-3060) slash with 136 doubles, 98 home runs, 427 RBI, .744 OPS, and 20.2 WAR. He would remain in the Yankees organization as a minor-league manager (1972-1977), coached for a season as a member of Bobby Cox’ staff in Atlanta, and then returned to coach his hometown Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. Ward was also named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
The entire Sox On 35th team sends our condolences to Ward’s family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time.
Featured Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame