As has become an annual tradition, today we pause for a moment before turning the calendar to 2016 to remember the members of the Brewers and Wisconsin's baseball history that we've lost over the last year. This year our list includes four former Brewers, including two that died quite young, and one Milwaukee Brave. As is invariably the case, I likely missed someone somewhere along the line: If you could please add them in the comments, it would be appreciated.
Jose Capellan, age 34, passed away on April 7
Capellan, acquired from Atlanta in the 2004 Dan Kolb trade, was listed by Baseball America as the #25 prospect in all of baseball before the 2015 season. He pitched in relief in 85 games for the Brewers between 2005-07, and his 61 appearances in 2006 were more than half of his five-year MLB career total. During his time with the Brewers Capellan threw hard (FanGraphs shows his average fastball velocity around 94 mph) but was also hit hard, allowing 1.3 home runs per nine innings.
Despite being done in the majors at age 28 Capellan continued to pitch professionally until 2013, playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic and Venezuela and one season in Korea for Hanwha. He was just 34 when he died of an apparent heart attack.
Ollie Brown, age 71, passed away on April 16
"Downtown" Ollie Brown played 13 MLB seasons as a member of six organizations, including the 1972-73 Milwaukee Brewers. His best season came as a member of the 1970 San Diego Padres, where he hit .292/.331/.489 in 139 games with a career-best 23 home runs.
Brown's stint as a Brewer was relatively brief but he is the answer to an interesting trivia question: Following the American League's rule change, on April 6, 1973 he became the first Brewer ever to play in a regular season game as the designated hitter. The next day, April 7, he became the first Brewer ever to get a hit and score a run as the DH. On April 13 of that year he became the first Brewer DH to hit a home run.
Brown passed away at his home in Buena Park, California, from complications of mesothelioma. He was 71 years old.
Darryl Hamilton, age 50, passed away on June 21
Hamilton was drafted by the Brewers in 1986, made his MLB debut with Milwaukee in 1988 and played seven of his 13 MLB seasons for the Crew, splitting time across all three outfield positions before taking over in center field when Robin Yount retired in 1994.
Hamilton ranks among the Brewers' all-time leaders in several categories:
|Batting average (min. 2000 PA)||.290||6th|
|On-base percentage (min. 2000 PA)||.351||13th|
After his 13-year MLB career Hamilton worked in the Commissioner's office before eventually moving into broadcasting, including a brief stint working with Joe Block on Brewers radio broadcasts. He was working as an analyst for MLB Network in 2015 when he died in an apparent murder/suicide at his home in Texas. He was 50 years old.
Ken Johnson, age 82, passed away on November 21
Johnson pitched 13 seasons in the majors as a member of seven franchises, but is perhaps best remembered for a single day and one of the most bizarre stat lines you'll ever see. In 1964 Johnson pitched a complete game, nine inning no-hitter as a member of the Houston Colt .45's and lost the game as the Reds scored a single unearned run in the top of the ninth inning and held on for a 1-0 victory.
In May of 1965 Houston (whose franchise had since changed its name to Astros) traded Johnson to the Milwaukee Braves, where he pitched a solid partial season in that franchise's final season before moving to Atlanta. Johnson made 29 appearances (26 starts) for the Braves in 1965 and posted a 3.21 ERA with excellent control, walking just 1.9 batters per nine innings.
Johnson followed the Braves to Atlanta and remained there for three and a half more seasons before wrapping up his career with partial seasons as a Yankee, Cub and Expo in 1969 and 1970. According to this Yahoo article, he was struggling with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases when he died of a kidney infection.
Gus Gil, age 76, passed away on December 8
Gil made his MLB debut as a member of the 1967 Indians before finding his way to the expansion Seattle Pilots, where he played 92 games as a light-hitting utility infielder. Gil followed the franchise to Milwaukee and played in 78 more games for the Brewers between 1970 and 1971, hitting his only MLB home run on August 5, 1970.
Gil was done in the majors following the 1971 season but played a few more seasons in the minors, and later managed in the minors for the Angels and Orioles.
According to his obituary, Gil died of respiratory arrest. He was 76 years old.