On this day one year ago, former Brave, Colt .45, Cub, Angel, and Pilot Merritt Ranew passed away at the age of 73.
Originally signed as a free-agent by the Milwaukee Braves, catcher Merritt Ranew spent five seasons ('57-'61) in the Braves minor league system before being drafted by the Houston Colt .45s in the 1961 expansion draft.
Ranew split the '62 season between AAA Oklahoma City of the American Association and Houston-where he played in 71 games for the expansion club. While his card in the 1962 Topps lists him as a member of the Colts, the photo used is obviously one which depicts him in Braves gear.
1962 Topps #156
Traded to the Cubs in March of 1963, Mr. Ranew would have his best season in the majors that year-batting .338 in 154 at-bats, while slugging .841.
1964 Topps #78
Topps did not produce a card of Ranew that season, but did include the backstop in its 1964 set. In June of that year, however, the Cubbies sent Ranew back to Milwaukee as the player to be named later in the Len Gabrielson deal. With Milwaukee, Merritt would only appear in nine games during the '64 season. The next year he would, once again, be on the move: sent to San Francisco-who would then send him to California a short time later.
It was during his time with the Angels (actually their PCL minor league team in Seattle-in May of 1966) that Ranew endured one of the worst attacks in baseball history- taking a bat to the head by Santiago Rosario of the Vancouver Mounties (a KC Athletics minor league team). The hit to Ranew's head produced a three-inch gash, causing internal bleeding on the brain and paralysis on the left side of Mr. Ranew's face. After undergoing surgery to relieve the clot, Merritt remained unconscious for seventy-two hours. You can read more on the incident here.
After spending three weeks in a Vancouver hospital, Ranew was released from the hospital and back on the field the next season-spent once again in Seattle. Prior to that 1967 season, Ranew filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver team, it's manager, Rosario, and the Kansas City Athletics-and won the decision.
Merritt Ranew retired after the 1971 season, and went on to become a successful horse trainer and businessman.