Former Major League Baseball player Conrado Marrero, who became the oldest living former player in February 2011, passed away at the age of 102 on Wednesday in Havana, Cuba, according to Daniel Trotta of Reuters.
A native of Cuba, Marrero, who was born on April 25, 1911, would have turned 103 on Friday.
Marrero's grandson, Rogelio Marrero, said the former Washington Senators pitcher died in the early afternoon, per the The Associated Press (via The Washington Times):
“He woke up in the morning and it was like he wasn’t there. He wasn’t reacting."
Marrero, who stood just 5'5", weighed only 158 pounds and went by the nickname "Connie," pitched five seasons for the Senators in the 1950s. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the undersized right-hander recorded 297 strikeouts and finished with a career record of 39-40, 3.67 ERA and 51 complete games.
After a standout career in Cuba during the 1930s and 40s, Marrero was signed by the Senators in 1947 and made his major-league debut as a 39-year-old in 1950 and played until 1954. Marrero earned All-Star honors in 1951 and received votes for the American League MVP voting in 1952.
Marrero was best known as a lovable character of the game, a man who came from pre-revolution Cuba and didn't make it to the big leagues until he was 39. He won 11 games two years in a row, and he was on the American League roster for the 1951 Midsummer Classic, although he didn't pitch, having worked the day before. He had a windmill windup and he was known to enjoy a cigar or two.
Marrero had become the oldest living former major-league ballplayer following Tony Malinosky's death three years ago, per the AP (via The Washington Times). Malinosky was 101 at the time of his death on Feb. 8, 2011.
Despite having been away from MLB for nearly 60 years, Marrero left a lasting legacy in five seasons in the big leagues. His unique arsenal of pitches allowed him to overwhelm opponents despite lacking power, and his success with Washington no doubt inspired other undersized prospects.
Although he's little-known to generations of baseball fans, Marrero's passing marks a somber day in the sports world, especially for those members of the MLB fraternity.