Albuquerque professional baseball, it can be argued, never saw a more successful pitcher than Jesse Priest.
In 1951 and 1952, pitching for the Albuquerque Dukes of the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League, the sidearm slinger from Sweetwater, Texas, won 37 games and lost only 13. In ‘51, he went 19-3 and won 17 games in a row.
He was a mere 18-10 in ’52. Yet, on a personal level, that might have been his finest year.
On July 12, 1952, Priest and Barbara Wages were married at Tingley Field before a game against the Pampa Oilers. After the ceremony, Jesse pitched the Dukes to a 16-1 victory, his 11th win of the season.
In 2009, Priest was inducted into the Albuquerque Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
Last week, Barbara Priest informed the Journal via email that her husband died May 10 at their home in Midland, Texas. He was 84.
In January, Steve Lagomarsino, Jesse Priest’s friend, Dukes teammate, fellow pitcher and fellow member of the Albuquerque Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, died here at age 88.
“I know (Jesse) and Steve Lagomarsino are (in heaven) trying to get a baseball team together,” Barbara Priest said.
WITNESS TO HISTORY: Stan Bregman was 10 years old when, on June 29, 1941, he went to a New York Yankees-Washington Senators baseball game at Griffith Stadium in the nation’s capital.
That afternoon, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio surpassed George Sisler’s modern-day consecutive-games hitting streak of 41 with a seventh inning single off Senators right-hander Red Anderson.
“I can remember vividly the hit,” Bregman told the Journal in 2006. “It was a rope over the shortstop’s head.”
I wish I’d saved the recording of my 2006 interview with Bregman, because it’s likely he witnessed more sports history from ringside. His father, Samuel “Bo” Bregman, promoted boxing cards that featured, among others, Joe Louis, Billy Conn and Albuquerque’s Bob Foster.
Bregman, father of Albuquerque attorney Sam Bregman and grandfather of LSU baseball star Alex Bregman, died May 8 in Santa Monica, Calif. He lived in Albuquerque for 17 years before moving to California for health reasons.
As written by staff writer Rick Nathanson in Thursday’s Journal, Stan Bregman made some history, too.
In politics, the George Washington University-educated lawyer worked in the presidential campaigns of Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Walter Mondale in 1984.
In sports, Bregman served as general counsel for his beloved, hometown Washington Senators. His sons, Ben and Sam, were on a first-name basis with the great Ted Williams, the Senators’ manager from 1969-72.
A full life? Yes, and then some.
RULES OF THE ROAD: Mohamed Fadil, a Moroccan distance runner who lives in Albuquerque, says he’ll return to California next year to defend his title at the OC Marathon – even though he’s not the official 2014 winner.
On May 11, Fadil crossed the finish line first in a record time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 12 seconds. But, on Tuesday, event officials announced Fadil had been disqualified.
A friend of Fadil’s, they said, had illegally paced him on a bicycle and given him fluids. Ryan Shay, who had finished 1 minute, 27 seconds behind Fadil, was declared the winner.
The Journal has been unable to reach Fadil for comment. But the runner told the Orange County Register he was unaware that he had violated any rules.
“In my mind, I am the winner of the OC Marathon,” Fadil told the Register. “I didn’t cheat. Even if they took it off the paper, I am the winner.”
Fadil, 32, is an accomplished runner with some impressive personal bests: 28:22 at 10 kilometers, 13:48 at 10K, 1:02:15 for a half-marathon, 2:19:59 for the marathon.
He finished second in the OC Marathon in 2013.
“I enjoy the course, and want to come back and defend my title,” Fadil told the Register.