Baseball was start of good life for Cole

October 27, 2011|From staff reports
  • Dave Coles
Dave Coles

WILLIAMSPORT — Many leave their hometowns looking for fame and fortune.

Dave Cole had that chance and found out that fame was a relative thing. He didn’t have to go far to live a successful life.

After a small fraction of his life as a professional baseball player, Cole returned home in the late 1950s to Williamsport. Baseball was his obvious talent, but Cole will be long remembered for the work he did in his community rather than on the mound.

Cole, 81, died on Wednesday at Meritus Medical Center, ending a multifaceted life that only began when he was playing baseball. The obvious proof is the family, which includes four children and eight grandchildren, that survives him.

It all started with baseball, where he was drafted by the Boston Braves out of high school in 1948. He also played on Williamsport High School’s only state championship basketball team.

It produced a relatively short career of six seasons with four different organizations.

Cole wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but he got to play with a number of players who were eventually elected to baseball’s shrine.

And the only team that probably feared Cole when he was pitching was the Philadelphia Phillies. The right-hander was 6-18 in his career, including four wins against the Phillies, who eventually bought him from the Chicago Cubs.

“That’s too bad. They’re the only team I can beat,” said Cole, according to Baseball Digest.

Cole’s pitching career ended in 1955 after being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. In his short career, he played with some of the game’s greats, including pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain with the Boston Braves; Eddie Matthews with the Milwaukee Braves; Ernie Banks and Ralph Kiner with the Cubs and Smokey Burgess with the Phillies.

With baseball behind him, Cole returned to Williamsport to resume what became a full life off the field.

Besides working until retiring in 1987 at Mack Trucks, Inc., Cole found ample time to offer his service and expertise to a number of groups.

It seemed natural that Cole would become a manager at Williamsport Little League and he enjoyed other athletic endeavors as a member of Potomac Fish and Game Club and as a charter member of Williamsport Country Club.

He was elected to the Washington County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

Away from the athletic field, Cole became a staple in Williamsport government and social clubs.

He served as a Williamsport town councilman along with serving as president of the Williamsport Lions Club and the country club. He was also a member of the Improved Order of Red Men.

In the course of his life, Dave Cole chased a dream early, but ended up living it to the end.

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