Milt Pappas & Pete Zorn, R.I.P.

Milt Pappas

Yesterday was a busy day on the First Draft obituary beat. There were two deaths of note: one a talented musician and the other an underrated major league pitcher and *possible* Adrastos relative. Let’s start with Milt Pappas first.

I learned of Milt Pappas’ passing whilst on Twitter during the election coverage:

Note that the actual NYT headline was kinder to Milt Pappas than the Tweet. The bottom line remains the same: he was part of one of the worst baseball trades of the 1960’s. Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown the next season and led the Orioles to a sweep of the hated (by me) Dodgers. Pappas wound up woefully underrated when he was, in fact, a consistently good but not great pitcher. His reputation had a brief uptick when Bill James compared Milt’s career stats to those of hated (by me) Dodger Hall of Famer Don Drysdale and found them remarkably similar.

I met Milt Pappas several times over the years. My late father called him Cousin Milt but Pappas shrugged every time cousinage was conferred on him. While there *are* some Pappasses in my family tree, my father frequently adopted prominent Greek-Americans as relatives. In short, I’m not sure if it’s true, but the temptation to claim David Sedaris and Tina Fey as kin is overwhelming.

Milt Pappas was a solid pitcher and a nice man. I guess I *should* claim cousinage since I just refuted the whole journeyman pitcher canard.

In Milt’s honor, here’s Macca and Wings to give him a proper musical send-off:

Yesterday also marked the passing of the gifted folk-rock musician Pete Zorn who is best known as a longtime member of the Richard Thompson Band:

Adept on six-string and bass guitar as well as mandolin, saxophone, flute and tin whistle plus as a backing vocalist, he worked with Thompson on recordings and performances since his pivotal 1982 album with his wife Linda, Shoot Out the Lights.

Born in the U.S. in Somerset County, PA, Zorn moved to England in 1971 and made his home in London.  His career mainly consisted of working with U.K. folk-rock artists like both Thompsons, Gerry Rafferty, Fairport Convention, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Pegg, The Albion Band and others. He joined Steeleye Span in 2009, replacing an ailing Rick Kemp on the band’s 40th Anniversary tour. He continued to play with Steeleye after Kemp returned on records and shows until 2014.

“We have lost an extraordinary musician and human being,” said Thompson. “Our thoughts, prayers and support are with his family and friends.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Pete and he was a charming and friendly man. He will be missed but his wicked skills live on. Here he is on baritone sax with the RTB:

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