'Boots' Poffenberger, pitcher for Tigers, Dodgers, dead at 84; Williamsport resident called 'last of great baseball characters'


WILLIAMSPORT, Md. -- Cletus Ellwood "Boots" Poffenberger, a former major-league pitcher who was considered one of the last genuine baseball characters, will be buried here tomorrow. He died on Wednesday at age 84 from prostate cancer.

His widow, the former Katherine Hanna Bowser, and family members will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Osborne Funeral Home in Williamsport. The funeral will be from the same establishment tomorrow at 11 a.m., with a military service conducted at Riverview Cemetery in Williamsport.

Poffenberger, a Marine in World War II, whose picture was used on recruiting posters, pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1937 and 1938 and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939. His record in the majors was 16-12, but he had a reputation of being a free spirit, who playfully went his own way -- usually leaving the team without authorization to come home to Williamsport -- and thus provoked managers and general managers.

In a national baseball publication, in 1992, a Sun sportswriter called him the "last of the great baseball characters."

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