Johnny Sturm, former New York Yankee, dies at 88

Friday, October 15th 2004, 7:33 pm
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Johnny Sturm, the starting first baseman on the New York Yankees' 1941 world championship team and the man credited by many with alerting the Yankees to a young prospect named Mickey Mantle, has died. He was 88.

Sturm, who played just one season in the major leagues, died at home of congestive heart failure on Oct. 8, his daughter, Mary Noll, said Friday.

Sturm hit .239 with three home runs and 36 RBIs in 124 games in 1941, the same season that teammate Joe DiMaggio hit in a record 56 straight games. In the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Sturm played in all five games, batting .286 with two RBIs.

Sturm never played in the major leagues again. Two months after the season ended, he enlisted in the Army Air Force. While driving a tractor to clear land for an Army baseball field, the index finger on Sturm's right hand _ his glove hand _ was mangled and the top of the finger amputated.

He was invited to spring training with the Yankees in 1946 but didn't make the team. He managed the Yankees' Class C team in Joplin, Mo., in 1948-49, leading the Western Association with a .360 average as a player-manager in 1948.

In 1949, Sturm got a call from Mantle's father, asking that he give his son a tryout. Strum obliged and quickly persuaded Yankees officials to take a look, leading to Mantle signing with the organization.

Sturm later served as a scout for the Houston Colt .45's, the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox.