Former big league pitcher Marrero dies at 102

Cuban right-hander had been the oldest living ex-Major League player

Former big league pitcher Marrero dies at 102

Conrado Marrero, who had been the oldest living former Major League ballplayer, passed away Wednesday -- two days short of his 103rd birthday -- according to a report by The Associated Press.

Marrero, who pitched for the Washington Senators in the 1950s, lived out his final years in his native homeland of Cuba.

Known as Connie during his big league playing career, Marrero was born in 1911 in Sagua La Grande, a town about 220 miles east of Havana. His playing career took him from Cuba to Mexico and finally to the Majors, and he was an American League All-Star as a 40-year-old in his second season with the Senators.

Marrero stood just 5-foot-5 and weighed 158 pounds in his prime, but he confounded big league hitters with his command and control. Former big league player and manager Felipe Alou said that Marrero's windup was like "a cross between a windmill gone berserk and a mallard duck trying to fly backwards."

The AP conducted a few interviews with Marrero in recent years, and it reported that he greatly enjoyed talking about his Major League experience. Marrero was blind, hard of hearing and confined to a wheelchair late in life, but he still enjoyed listening to Cuban baseball games on the radio.

Last year, upon the occasion of his 102nd birthday, Marrero spoke of what his career meant to him.

"Putting on that uniform always made me feel bigger, more powerful," he told AP.

Marrero went 39-40 with a 3.67 ERA in the Major Leagues despite not beginning his career until four days before his 39th birthday, and he gladly recounted what it was like to play against Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle, Larry Doby and Ted Williams in a talent-rich era of the national pastime.

"One day Williams got two home runs off me, and afterward he came up to me and said, 'Sorry, it was my day today,'" Marrero told the AP in 2012. "I responded, 'Ted, every day is your day.' "

Williams took Marrero deep three times, and only two players were able to exceed that total. Marrero served up seven homers to Doby and four to Al Rosen, who went on to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1953. Young Mantle batted .300 (6-for-22) against Marrero but never hit a homer against him.

Marrero became the oldest living former player in February 2011, when former Dodgers infielder Tony Malinosky passed away. Baseball Hall of Fame librarian Jim Gates said that the honor now passes to 98-year-old Mike Sandlock, a former catcher and infielder who played in 195 games for the Braves, Dodgers and Pirates between 1942-53.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.