Jerry Lumpe, who played the infield for theYankees in two World Series in the 1950s and was later an All-Star second baseman with the Detroit Tigers, died on Friday in Springfield, Mo. He was 81.
His wife, Vivian Lumpe, said the cause was cancer.
When Lumpe (pronounced Lumpy) made his Yankee debut in 1956, he had something in common with Mickey Mantle. Both were from the Ozarks — Mantle an Oklahoman and Lumpe from Missouri — and both had been signed by the Yankee scout Tom Greenwade.
But Lumpe was never destined for great things with the team. He played only briefly as a rookie, then shared duties at third base and shortstop in the seasons that followed. He appeared with the Yankees when they lost to the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series and when they defeated the Braves in the Series the next year.
Lumpe was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in May 1959 in a five-player deal that brought pitcher Ralph Terry and infielder Hector Lopez to the Yankees. He played mostly at second base after that.
His best season came in 1962, when he hit .301 for Kansas City with 54 extra-base hits and 83 runs batted in.
He was traded to the Tigers after the 1963 season in a multiplayer deal that sent the slugging Rocky Colavito to Kansas City. Lumpe was named to the All-Star team in 1964.
Jerry Dean Lumpe was born on June 2, 1933, in Lincoln, Mo., and grew up in Warsaw, Mo., where he played basketball for his high school team. The school did not have a baseball team, but Lumpe was impressive enough playing American Legion and Ban Johnson league youth baseball to be signed by Greenwade in 1951.
Lumpe and the future Yankee Norm Siebern played basketball for the Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University) teams that won the national championship of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1952 and ’53, but both departed for minor league spring training before the title games.
Lumpe played 12 seasons in the major leagues and retired after the 1967 season with a career batting average of .268.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his sons, Jerry Jr. and James; his daughter, Cece Haden; and five grandchildren.
Although he played solely in the American League, Lumpe grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and his father, W. J. Lumpe, gave him his middle name to honor the star Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean. Father and son listened to Cardinals games on the network of the team’s flagship radio station, KMOX, in St. Louis. But it took some initiative to find a spot where the signal would come in clearly.
“We got the station in Sedalia, but it didn’t go very far,” Lumpe told The Springfield News-Leader in 2011. “But there was a hill about five miles north of town, and we’d sit up there in the car listening to the game, my dad and I. You tell the kids that now, and they think you’re crazy.”