The sports world lost many iconic figures in 2020, with the likes of David Stern, Kobe Bryant, Gale Sayers, and John Thompson among the sports personalities who passed away this year. Baseball, however, seemed to be hit particularly hard compared to other sports in terms of household names, with no fewer than six of the sport’s Hall of Famers dying over the course of the year. That list doesn’t even include someone like Don Larsen, who is famous for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history but is not in the Hall of Fame. Larsen died on January 1, and it was just the start of what would be a tragic year for MLB. Here are six baseball legends who are enshrined in Cooperstown and passed away in 2020.
Al Kaline earned the nickname “Mr. Tiger” by playing his entire 22-year career with the Tigers. And it was an impressive career in which the outfielder hit .297 with 399 home runs and 1,582 RBI. Kaline was an 18-time All-Star who won 10 Gold Gloves and was the American League batting champ in 1955. Kaline died at his home on April 6 at the age of 85; the cause was not reported.
Tom Seaver got his career off to a strong start as soon as he made it to the majors, winning the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967. He would go on to become a 300-game winner, recording a 311-205 record in 20 seasons with a 2.86 ERA. Seaver was a three-time Cy Young winner and 12-time All-Star who was a big part of the “Miracle Mets” team that won the 1969 World Series. Seaver died on July 31 from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19; he was 75.
Lou Brock began his career with the Cubs, who traded him to the rival Cardinals in 1964. Brock would go on to have a Hall of Fame career with St. Louis. Over his 19 years in the majors, Brock hit .293 with 149 RBI and drove in 900 RBI. Brock was most known for his baserunning prowess; his 938 stolen bases are second in MLB history, behind only Rickey Henderson. Brock was named an All-Star six times and was the Sporting News Major League Player of the Year in 1974. Brock, 81, died on September 6 after suffering from multiple myeloma.
Bob Gibson was one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history. The career Cardinal ended his 17-year career with a 2.91 ERA and a 251-174 record. His 3,117 strikeouts rank him 14th on the all-time list. Gibson was a nine-time All-Star with nine Gold Gloves and two Cy Young awards on his impressive resume. Gibson accomplished a rare feat in 1968, winning both MVP and Cy Young honors in the National League. Gibson, 84, died on October 2 after battling pancreatic cancer.
Whitey Ford played for the Yankees for his entire 16-year career, which included taking two years off for military service. Ford went 236-106 with a 2.75 ERA and 1,956 strikeouts on the mound. Because he played for the Yankees, his individual success helped lead to team success, with six World Series titles during his career. A 10-time All-Star, Ford won the American League Cy Young in 1961. Ford was 91 when he died on October 8. The cause of death was not announced, but Ford had battled dementia for several years.
Joe Morgan was one of the best defensive second basemen of his era, winning five Gold Gloves over his 22-year career. Offensively, he hit .271 with 268 home runs and 1,133 RBI. Morgan was a 10-time All-Star and two-time MVP, winning the National League’s award in 1975 and 1976. After his career ended in 1984, Morgan enjoyed a long run as an analyst for nationally televised games, including working with Jon Miller for the first 20 years of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball franchise. Morgan died at his home on October 11, aged 77.