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Originally published Monday, March 5, 2012 at 6:20 PM

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Seattle Pilots all-star Don Mincher dies

Don Mincher, who played in the 1969 All-Star Game as a member of the Seattle Pilots, died Sunday in Huntsville, Ala., at the age of 73.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Saw a few games at Sick's w/ the Pilots when i was a kid. My brother and I loved Tommy... MORE
Sorry to hear this news. Thanks for the short-lived memories, Don. That single Pilots... MORE
Thanks Larry for the fond memories of the "Big D". Like others I saw a few... MORE

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First baseman Don Mincher, who represented the Seattle Pilots at the All-Star Game in 1969 in their lone American League season, has died at the age of 73.

Mincher died Sunday at his Huntsville, Ala., home after a long illness, according to The Huntsville Times.

A left-handed power hitter, Mincher led the Pilots with 25 home runs, including one on opening day at Sick's Stadium that was the first one hit by the expansion team. The Pilots left Seattle after the 1969 season to become the Milwaukee Brewers.

That lone Pilots season in Seattle was immortalized in Jim Bouton's classic book, "Ball Four." It was a work that Mincher was reportedly not fond of, particular its portrayal of manager Joe Schultz as an incompetent bumbler.

"What are you going to do with 25 guys, half of whom have never played in a major-league game and the rest on their way out?" Mincher said in a 1997 Birmingham News article.

Mincher had played a key role on the pennant-winning 1965 Twins team that lost to the Dodgers in the World Series, hitting 22 homers. And in the 1972 World Series with the Oakland A's, Mincher had perhaps his most memorable moment, delivering a game-tying, pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning of Game 4 against the Reds. It was his only at-bat of the series, and helped the A's win the game. Oakland went on to take the World Series in seven games, the first of its three consecutive titles.

Mincher, who hit .246 with 78 RBI with Seattle, appeared as a pinch-hitter in the '69 All-Star Game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., striking out against future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. The Pilots had another All-Star, outfielder/first baseman Mike Hegan, but he missed the game because of injury.

Mincher played 13 seasons in the American League, making two All-Star teams while hitting 200 home runs. Afterward, he returned to his native Huntsville to serve as general manager of the Class AA Huntsville Stars from 1985 to 2001. He was president of the Southern League from 2000 until he had to retire last year because of health issues.

Mincher also was part of an investment group that bought the Stars in 1994 to keep them in Alabama.

Funeral services are Wednesday. According to The Huntsville Times, Mincher is survived by his wife of 56 years, Patsy Ann Payne Mincher; children Mark, Donna and Lori; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @StoneLarry

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