San Antonio baseball icon Joel Horlen passes away at age 84

For a young boy who practiced pitching in the 1940s by flinging baseballs into a tire in his San Antonio backyard, Joel Horlen enjoyed quite a career in the game.

To date, he remains the only player to have won titles at a Pony League World Series (1952), a College World Series (for Oklahoma State University, in 1959) and a Major League World Series (for the Oakland A’s, in 1972), according to his obituary.

Horlen has died at the age of 84, according to a story published Monday on the athletics website at Oklahoma State. He had been battling dementia for the past five years.

Slightly built at 6 feet and 170 pounds, Horlen played for 12 seasons in the major leagues, mostly with the Chicago White Sox. He pitched in 361 games and compiled a 116-117 record, with a 3.11 earned run average.

Remarkably, a year after winning a championship with the A’s in the World Series, he agreed to help out a struggling Double-A baseball franchise in his hometown.

He pitched in the summer of 1973 for the San Antonio Brewers and led the team to the Texas League championship series, according to author David King’s book, “San Antonio at Bat.”

It was the last professional season on record for Horlen, a former American Legion baseball teammate of San Antonio’s Gary Bell, another former major leaguer.

Gregory H. Wolf, who authored the ball player’s biography for the Society of American Baseball Research, said Horlen preferred to be called “Joe,” and not Joel.

“All my friends call me Joe and that’s what I go by,” he told Wolf. “When I got into baseball, it became Joel somehow. I guess because that’s how I sign my contract.”

Wolf pointed out in his article that Horlen led all American League pitchers with a 2.32 ERA over a five-year period (1964-68) as the right-handed ace of the White Sox.

“After pitching for the notoriously weak-hitting South Siders for his first 11 years, Horlen concluded his career as a reliever and spot starter for the world champion Oakland Athletics in 1972,” Wolf wrote. “With a career record of 116-117, Horlen could lay claim as one the best pitchers with a losing record in major-league history.”

Both Horlen and Bell were inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Astros, A’s join in nationwide protest against social injustice

On a day when thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to decry social injustice, the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros joined together Friday to engage in a peaceful demonstration of their own at Minute Maid Park.

After a moment of silence, a Black Lives Matter T-shirt was laid across home plate, and then both ball clubs left the field.

As such, it became the 11th game in Major League Baseball in the last three days to be postponed in the wake of issues related to police brutality against Black citizens.

“I’m proud of this generation because in the ’60s, it was mostly African Americans and a few white Americans that stood up, but in this day and age, I’m seeing young people of all nationalities and all religions that are standing up together,” Astros manager Dusty Baker, who is Black, told the Associated Press. “The young people are a voice to be heard in the country, and I’m very, very proud of the young people in this country.”

The decision not to play came on Jackie Robinson Day in the major leagues.

It also came on the third day of protests by professional athletes in four U.S. sports leagues since Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by police in Wisconsin last weekend.

Robinson is known for breaking the color barrier in the major leagues when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. All Astros and A’s players were wearing jersey’s with Robinson’s No. 42 when they took the field.

Normally, Jackie Robinson Day is held in April, to commemorate the day that Robinson played his first game. But when the early part of the season was scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic, baseball elected to hold it on Aug. 28.

The date was selected for two reasons, according to

First, it’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson family attended. It is also the date in 1945 when Robinson met with Branch Rickey to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson Day is always a festive day in the majors. But on Friday at Minute Maid Park, it took on a more somber tone, as a nod to the tragedy that left Blake paralyzed and a nation in anguish.

“I woke up this morning, and I’ve always known the story of Jackie Robinson, but I had a different view today,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told the AP, referring to how much he is learning about racial injustice. “I was angry today. I was sad. I was all of the above. So I was looking forward to putting this jersey on. I have the utmost respect for No. 42 and his play.”