Tom Tresh was one of the last young Yankees stars to join and extend the dynasty. He was the Rookie of the Year and a World Series hero in 1962, played in two more World Series, and then, like Yankee Stadium and the pinstripes, stayed during the downturn as a reminder of better times.
Tresh died Wednesday October 15th of a heart attack at his home in Venice, Fla., a little more than two months after he appeared at the final Oldtimers Day at the old Stadium. He was 70.
The son of a big-league catcher - Mike Tresh played for the White Sox - the switch-hitting Tresh debuted in 1961 with a club still considered one of the greatest of all time. He played 111 games at shortstop in 1962 while Tony Kubek was in the Army, before moving to the outfield later that season. Tresh, the last Yankees rookie to get the starting role at shortstop until Derek Jeter in 1996, made the All-Star Game in a stellar season that produced 20 home runs and 93 runs batted in.
His three-run home run in Game 5 of the 1962 World Series against the Giants still is considered the turning point of that championship, the final one until 1977. Leftfielder Tresh also made a pivotal catch to preserve a 1-0 victory in Game 7.
Tresh became a full-time leftfielder in 1963 and was an All-Star that season. He homered against Sandy Koufax in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series. He was the first to tie a World Series game with a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, doing that against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals in Game 5 in 1964.
Like his friend Mickey Mantle and the franchise in general, Tresh was slowed by injuries during a decline through the 1960s. Still, he was a loyal member of the team, doing everything from switching positions to minding his spirited contemporary, Joe Pepitone.
"This hurts. He was my roommate for six years of my life, my hitting instructor and my best friend," Pepitone said. "He let me be me, but he was also the guy who kept me in at night. Tommy was a constant in my life and a calming influence. ...He was like my brother. When I had personal issues, he was always the person on the team I would turn to. "
Tresh finished his career in Detroit, his hometown. But he always was at home at Yankee Stadium. He was a mainstay at Oldtimers Day, a symbol of some great Yankees teams.
"Tommy was a great teammate," Yogi Berra said in a statement. "He did everything well as a ballplayer and was an easy guy to manage. He was a good man and great friend."
Survivors include his wife, Sandra; daughters Michelle Nestor, of Rochester, Mich.; Heidi Liddle, of Kalamazoo, Mich.; and Kami Tresh, of Royal Oak, Mich.; a son, Michael, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; stepsons Greg Searles, of Venice, Fla., and Luke Sandel, of Okemos, Mich.; and a sister, Barbara McConnell, of Venice.
A family memorial service will be held Sunday at the Unity Church of Venice. A public memorial will be held next Friday at Central Michigan University, where Tresh played.