MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Region bids farewell to sports legend Pilarcik

2010-09-24T22:30:00Z 2011-11-01T20:55:15Z Region bids farewell to sports legend PilarcikBy Al Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
September 24, 2010 10:30 pm  • 

Schererville's Al Pilarcik never got caught up in the "star" persona during his six major league seasons with Kansas City, Baltimore or the White Sox.

Not even in his 24 years as a high school baseball coach, most coming at Lake Central, where he taught 33 years before retiring in 2001.

Al was simply being Al.

The .240 career hitter made some history Sept. 28, 1960, during Baltimore's game with the Red Sox.

"He retrieved the ball Ted Williams hit in his last at-bat at Fenway Park," close friend Tom Hoffman said Friday. "He told me he wanted to just stick that ball in his pocket and run away as fast as he could.

"But, of course, he handed it over for the Hall of Fame."

Alfred J. Pilarcik died Monday at the age of 80. He is survived  by his wife of 53 years, Theresa, and their daughter Kathy (Steve) Deutsch who resides in St. Louis.

A mass will be held 10:30 a.m. today at St. John Evangelist Church in St. John. Burial will be in Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens, Schererville.

"I first met him when I was a freshman in high school, which was Al's first year on staff at Lake Central," Hoffman recalled. "We talked a lot over the years.

"One night some friends and I got together, which we usually did to play cards, but we decided just to talk about baseball when we were kids. One friend was a teacher at Lake Central and called Al to ask if he'd like to shoot the breeze with us."

Pilarcik, then retired, jumped at the opportunity.

"We were just spellbound by his stories of all the different players he knew," Hoffman said. "Al  brought along a contract he had signed with the Orioles at some point in time -- done on a typewriter -- and for the grand sum total of $8,000 for the season."

Pilarcik, a Whiting native, played from 1956 until 1961. Most of his career was spent with the Orioles. He was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Hoffman remembered another day when he and wife Linda were out driving and spotted Pilarcik working at his house. They stopped, naturally, and Hoffman mentioned how he'd love to have an autographed baseball card of Pilarcik.

While at work one day at the Dyer Town Hall, Hoffman had a visitor. It was Pilarcik.

"He hand-delivered to me a baseball card and three photographs -- one written to me, one written to my son and all of him in uniform," Hoffman said. "It really impressed me that he made that special trip.

"I remember thankingf him and he looked at me and said: 'No. Thank you' so I think it meant a lot to him that somebody really cared to have some memorabilia of him."

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