Charlie Petersen usually finished what he started, whether it was a ballgame, a ballpark or a century of living.
The oldest surviving Western International League player had 100 years and three months to his credit when he died June 9 in Kennewick. A graduate of Lewis and Clark High School, Petersen played 16 seasons of professional baseball, often doubling as the manager.
Born March 22, 1913, in Spokane, he was the youngest of four boys. One of his brothers, Kenneth, known as Ike, was a Gonzaga University Hall of Fame football player who spent two seasons in the NFL.
The Chicago Cubs signed Charlie Petersen in 1936. The next year, he played for Yakima as the WIL returned pro ball to the Inland Northwest. His brothers, Ike and Roy, played at Lewiston. Petersen also spent 1938 and 1939 with Yakima. He was named All-WIL utility man all three seasons.
He joined Salem for the next three seasons and became the manager in 1942. He split his time between second and third base for San Francisco’s Pacific Coast League team in 1943. He played third for Portland in 1944, when he also held a job in the local shipyards.
After dividing the 1946 season between Portland and San Francisco, he returned to Yakima for three more years, starting in 1947. On Sept. 14, 1948, he played all nine positions in a game against Vancouver.
In 1949, Petersen became Wenatchee’s player-manager. When the franchise moved to the Tri-Cities the next spring, he went along. Petersen retired following the 1951 season and went to work for the Benton County P.U.D.
He had played in the first game at Kennewick’s new Sanders Field in 1950. As a utility company employee, he dismantled the lighting plant before the park was demolished in 1974.
By the time he retired, Petersen had appeared in 1,192 WIL games, second only to record-holder Vic Buccola’s 1,219. The slender singles and doubles hitter played a total of 1,650 pro games with a career batting average of .280.
The oldest living pro player, Connie Marrero, who pitched for the 1950s Washington Senators, turned 102 in April. He is 11 months older than former catcher Mike Sandlock.
In addition to his brothers, Petersen also outlived his wife, Mary, who died in 2007, and their daughter. His wife’s brother, Jack Wilson, pitched several seasons in the 1930s for the Boston Red Sox. Petersen is survived by two grandsons and two great granddaughters.
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