BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- Vic Power, a flashy fielding All-Star and the last major leaguer to steal home twice in a game, died Tuesday. He was 78.
Power died of cancer in a hospital in this suburb of San Juan, said his sister, Carmen Pellot Power.
|Vic Power and his 3-year-old son enjoy a father-son game in Minneapolis. (AP)|
"I think Vic was one of the best-fielding first basemen of all-time," former Indians roommate Mudcat Grant said Tuesday. "He'd catch balls on one hop, two hops, all sorts of ways.
"I remember once when he missed a popup over his head, down the right-field line. After the game, he took his glove into the clubhouse and cut it into little bitty pieces," Grant said. "He said he didn't need that glove anymore."
Power achieved a rare feat in 1958, becoming among only a handful of players to steal home twice in the same game. His swipe in the 10th inning led Cleveland over Detroit 10-9 -- curiously, Power had only three steals the whole season.
Power was flamboyant on the field and off. He drove a Cadillac, listened to all kinds of music and liked to visit museums.
"He liked life," Grant said. "He'd blow kisses to fans in the stands. And when I roomed with him, you never knew about Vic. He might come in right after the game, and he might come in four hours later."
Power had five siblings and at least 13 children, 11 of whom are still living, said his son, Victor Hugo Pellot.
Born in Arecibo, Power was among the first Hispanic players in the majors. Traded from the New York Yankees' farm system in December 1953, he made his big-league debut in 1954 with the Philadelphia Athletics.
"He got along very well with every baseball player," said longtime major-league pitcher Juan Pizarro, a fellow Puerto Rican and two-time All-Star. "He was always making jokes. But when it was time to take the field you had to play hard because he didn't like joking in the field."
Power went with the A's when they moved to Kansas City in 1955, and was traded to Cleveland for Roger Maris in the middle of the 1958 season. That year, Power became the Indians' first Gold Glove winner.
He also played for Minnesota, the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies, and finished his career with California in 1965.
Later, he played first and third base and worked as a manager in the Puerto Rican league.
In 1985, while managing the Caguas franchise, Power was suspended for the season's final week and fined $1,000 for punching an umpire. That led to a strike by umpires who said he should have received a longer suspension and been declared ineligible for the playoffs.
After his retirement, Power set up a baseball academy for young players and managed an amateur team that participated in various international competitions.
Funeral arrangements are pending, his family said.