The Tragic Death of Dick Radatz, Former Red Sox Pitcher Who Died After Fatal Fall
Dick Radatz was unlike no other in Major League Baseball. On the baseball field, the numbers he put up in a season would be unheard of in today’s game. Off the field, the former Boston Red Sox pitcher brought “lots of laughs,” according to a former Red Sox infielder. Radatz remained in the game of baseball until his life was cut short after a devastating fall at his home in Easton, Massachusetts, on March 16, 2005. He was 67.
Dick Radatz was a ‘monster’
Dick Radatz was a gentle giant. He was listed at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, but that weight might be a bit generous. He was nicknamed The Monster. Radatz worked at keeping his weight down. If he didn’t, he paid for it – literally.
In a 1965 Sports Illustrated article, Boston Red Sox trainer Jack Fadden guessed Radatz’s weight ballooned to 280. Some of the players and sportswriters guessed it was anywhere from 275-300 pounds. Fadden implemented a “fines for fatties” program that would dock a player a dollar for every pound they were overweight. “I was overweight at the end of last season,” Radatz said then. “I knew I had to do something about it.”
Radatz took up running, something he wasn’t overly fond of, but found it effective. “I went to Jack Fadden and told him I’d like to take the weight off,” Radatz said. “But I wanted to do it the right way. Jack told me about a Boston doctor named Warren Guild, who is an authority on physical fitness, and I went to see him. Dr. Guild’s idea is that the best way to lose weight is to exercise, but to exercise in a way that’s interesting to you. I ran. I couldn’t think of anything more boring than running, but the more I did it, the more I liked it.”
Radatz was the best relief pitcher in baseball
Dick Radatz was a workhorse. He was also a hard-throwing pitcher who put up some serious numbers. He spent the first five years of his career with the Boston Red Sox. In his first season in 1962, he led the league in games pitched with 62. He also finished with a league-leading 24 saves. Radatz compiled a 9-6 record in that rookie season and finished third in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting.
The next two seasons, Radatz was a Major League Baseball All-Star. In 1963, Radatz appeared in 66 games – all in relief – and finished with a 1.97 ERA. He also racked up 15 wins, going 15-6, and had 23 saves. He was fifth in the MVP voting. The following season, he made his second straight All-Star appearance when he led the league in saves with 29. He appeared in 79 games and had a 16-9 record with a 2.29 ERA.
Radatz was dominant with the Red Sox. In his four-plus seasons in Boston, he went 49-34 and never started a game. He collected 102 saves and finished his time there with a 2.65 ERA. Radatz was traded to the Cleveland Indians in June of 1966. After leaving Boston, Radatz was never the same. He pitched for four different teams and went a combined 3-9 with 18 saves.
Radatz remained in baseball until his tragic death in 2005
Before Dick Radatz’s tragic death in March of 2005, he was a pitching coach with the North Shore Spirit, an independent team based in Lynn, Massachusetts. Radatz died on March 16, 2005, when he fell down a flight of stairs at his home. He was 67. “It is believed that as Radatz tumbled down the stairs, he struck his head on the carpet-covered concrete floor,” Easton Police Chief Thomas Kominsky said in a statement in 2005, according to Boston.com. ”Paramedics were unable to revive Radatz, due to the severity of his injuries — severe head trauma.”
According to former Boston Red Sox infielder John Kennedy,” Radatz was more than just a baseball player. ”He was a good guy, a lot of laughs,” Kennedy said. Former teammate Bill Monboquette said Radatz was “the best” at what he did. ‘He was the best,” said former Sox teammate Bill Monbouquette shortly after Radatz’s death. ”How would I say the best? When you compare him to other guys, they couldn’t do what he did. Three innings one day, maybe four the next, one the next day, and three more the next.”
According to Boston.com, New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle faced Radatz 63 times and struck out 47 times. ”Mickey used to say, ‘Damn it, I know what he’s going to throw and I still can’t hit it,” Monbouquette said. ”I think he hit one home run off Dick, in Yankee Stadium, and I think Dick broke his bat. Just to watch him, you knew you had no chance against him. He had no offspeed pitch, but he threw 95, 96, he had great location and he’d come right at you, get you 0 and 2 and just blow you away. He was a pure power guy.”