Mitchell Page, 59, an Oakland Athletics outfielder who had his best season as a rookie in 1977 then went on to become a hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals, died Saturday, the Cardinals announced. The cause was not given.
Page broke into the big leagues in 1977 and was an immediate hit with the A's, batting .307 with 21 homers and 75 RBIs. He also stole 42 bases and finished runner-up to Hall of Famer Eddie Murray in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Page's numbers at the plate dropped off after his first season. The left fielder and designated hitter spent seven years with the A's and then played 16 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1984, finishing his career with a .266 average, 72 homers and 259 RBIs.
He was the Cardinals' hitting coach from 2001-04, counting star slugger Albert Pujols among his pupils. The Cardinals let Page go after the 2004 World Series, when the team was swept by the Boston Red Sox and had a .190 collective batting average in the four-game series.
He entered a rehabilitation facility for alcoholism then returned to baseball with the Nationals from 2005 to 2007. Most recently, Page served as a minor league hitting instructor for the Cardinals last year.
A Los Angeles native, Mitchell Otis Page was born Oct. 15, 1951, and played for Compton Centennial High School and Cal Poly Pomona before being drafted by the Pirates in 1973. He was traded to the A's before the 1977 season.
Member of Buffalo Sabres' French Connection line
Rick Martin, 59, a member of the Buffalo Sabres' famed French Connection line in the 1970s, died Sunday after a single-car crash in Buffalo, N.Y.
Police said the car Martin was driving crossed the center line on the road, rolled along the shoulder and struck a utility pole before coming to rest against a tree. Witnesses spotted him driving with his head slumped and eyes closed before the crash. New York State Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli said it appeared Martin had "an undetermined medical emergency" before the accident.
Martin was pronounced dead at a suburban Buffalo hospital. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
Born July 26, 1951, in Quebec, Canada, Martin was selected fifth overall by the Sabres in the 1971 draft. He immediately made an impact during the 1971-72 hockey season when he scored what was then an NHL rookie record 44 goals. Martin played left wing on a line also featuring Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert. They were eventually dubbed the French Connection.
Martin spent 10 seasons with Buffalo before his career was cut short by a severe knee injury during a game in November 1980. He was traded to the Kings during the 1980-81 season, and only played four games for L.A.
Martin finished with 384 goals and 317 assists for 701 points in 685 NHL games. He added 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points in 63 playoff games.
— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports