The list of men who played for the Detroit Tigers decreased in 2019 as 10 former players passed away, with Will Brunson being the youngest at age 49 and Milt Welch the oldest at 94.
Here, in chronological order, are the 10 former Tigers who lost their lives in 2019:
Lenny Green, January 6, 1933-January 6, 2019: Green, who died on his 86th birthday, spent 12 seasons in the majors, including the last two with the Tigers in 1967-68. He made 30 starts in left field and two in center field for the Tigers in 1967 and hit .278 with one home run and 13 RBIs in 151 at-bats. In the Tigers’ championship season of 1968, Green played in six games and was 1-for-4 during a 12-day stretch in June. He was most known for his days with the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox.
Joe Presko, October 7, 1928-February 5, 2019: Presko spent the final two seasons of his six-year career with the Tigers in 1957-58. He appeared as a relief pitcher seven times in both seasons and was 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA. His lone win came in September of 1957 when he pitched two scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles. Presko spent four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1951-54) prior to playing for the Tigers. He died at age 90.
Milt Welch, July 26, 1924-February 9, 2019: Welch, a catcher, appeared in one game for the Tigers in 1945, and that was his only appearance in the major leagues. On June 5, he was a defensive replacement behind the plate for Paul Richards and was 0-for-2 in the only at-bats of his career in Detroit’s 9-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland Stadium. He died at age 94.
Jerry Casale, September 27, 1933-February 9, 2019: After three seasons with the Boston Red Sox and part of one with the Los Angeles Angels, Casale spent the final one-plus seasons of his major-league career with Detroit. He mostly pitched in relief but made one start out of his 21 appearances for the Tigers. He was 1-2 with a 4.81 ERA, and his only win came in 1962 when he pitched five and one-third innings of a relief against the Indians in Cleveland. He died at age 85.
Jack Crimian, February 17, 1926-February 11, 2019: Crimian, who died six days shy of his 93rd birthday, pitched in four games for Detroit in 1957 – his last in the major leagues. He was 0-1 with a 12.761 ERA and did not make a start for the Tigers. He previously pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1951-52 and the Kansas City Athletics in 1956.
Joe Grzenda, June 8, 1937-July 12, 2019: Grzenda made his major-league debut for the Tigers in 1961 but appeared in just four games as a relief pitcher. He was 1-0 with a 7.94 ERA. His lone win for the Tigers came when he threw one scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park and Detroit rallied for an 8-6 victory. He died at age 82.
Don Mossi, January 11, 1929-July 19, 2019: Mossi is the most well-known former Tigers player who died in 2019. He spent five seasons with Detroit (1959-63) and peaked in 1961 when he was 15-7 with a 2.96 ERA. He had 47 complete games and five shutouts for the Tigers and finished his time in Detroit with a 59-44 record and a 3.49 ERA. He was 90 at the time of his death.
Mike Roarke, November 8, 1930-July 27, 2019: Roarke spent four seasons as a backup catcher, mostly to a young Bill Freehan. Roarke saw most of his action in his first two seasons in Detroit and played in a total of 52 games in is final two major-league seasons. The Tigers were his only major-league team, and he finished with a .230 average, six home runs, 44 RBIs and an OPS of .594. He was 88 when he died.
Will Brunson, March 20, 1970-November 23, 2019: Brunson, a left-handed pitcher, is the youngest of this group. After splitting the 1998 season between the Dodgers and the Tigers, Brunson finished his major-league career with Detroit in 1999. He was strictly a relief pitcher and pitched in 25 games for Detroit with a 1-0 record and a 4.80 ERA. Brunson died on November 23, 2019, when he suffered a heart attack while hiking with friends at Big Bend National Park in the Chihuahuan Desert in west Texas near the Mexico border. He was 49.
Ted Lepcio, July 28, 1929-December 11, 2019: Lepcio, a 10-year veteran of the major leagues, spent part of the 1959 season with the Tigers. Lepcio, a versatile infielder, hit .279 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs and hit a grand small in his first game for Detroit. He spent the first seven-plus seasons with the Boston Red Sox. He was 90 years old at the time of his death.