Today in Tribe History: January 3, 2004

The sad story of Leon Wagner comes to an end, as the former Cleveland Indians outfielder is found dead while homeless in Los Angeles, California. He was 69 years old.

“Daddy Wags” spent a dozen years in the Major Leagues, playing with the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and the expansion Los Angeles Angels, where he was a two-time All-Star. He was dealt to Cleveland amidst rumors that his California business was failing and that he owed the Angels money on a loan. He spent parts of five seasons with the Indians, hitting 31 home runs and driving in 100 in 1964 in his first season with the club.

The “Good Humor Man” played with the Chicago White Sox before a return to the Giants to end his career. He ran his own clothing store and worked in Hollywood, appearing in a couple of movies, but ultimately lost everything, battled substance abuse, and found himself homeless, despite the outreach of many former teammates, including Jim “Mudcat” Grant.

Also on this date in Tribe history:
1961: Frank “Trader” Lane quits as the general manager of the Cleveland Indians to take the same role with the Kansas City Athletics. Frantic Frank is replaced by Gabe Paul, although the Indians were believed to covet former manager Al Lopez for the role. Lane had signed a three-year contract with the Indians to continue as GM on February 25, 1960.

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