George Huffman, one of the remaining standouts from the Inland Northwest’s banner crop of postwar ballplayers, has died at the age of 86.
Long associated with the late Ron Jackson, his former roommate and partner in rapid-fire repartee, Huffman played minor-league baseball for five seasons, twice for Spokane. He remained close to the game as a coach, fan and competitive softball player, all with near-legendary intensity.
He passed away Monday in Coeur d’Alene. An informal celebration has been scheduled for 4 p.m. next Monday at Coeur d’Alene Golf Club.
Huffman was a native of Saskatchewan. But his family moved to North Idaho, and he lived there off-and-on for the rest of his life. After graduating from Coeur d’Alene High School, he enrolled at Lewiston’s North Idaho College of Education, predecessor of Lewis-Clark State. He led the 1951 team by hitting .478.
During the summer, George and two teammates – his brother, Earl, and pitcher, Gordon Palm, another future Spokane pro – played for the Coeur d’Alene Lakesiders. George Huffman attended University of Idaho in 1952. When school let out, he, teammates Bruce McIntosh and Jerry Ogle and Washington State freshmen Jack Spring and Ed Bouchee signed with the Spokane Indians.
Huffman, an outfielder, hit .262. Spring and Bouchee flashed some of the form that would advance both to the major leagues. All three became property of the Philadelphia Phillies.
After two years in the U.S. Army, Huffman returned to pro ball with Eugene in the new Northwest League. That’s where he met Jackson, They became fast friends.
Stockily built, Huffman hit .309. Jackson, a slender infielder, batted 303. Both played for Spokane in 1956. Huffman had 94 RBIs and batted .325, sixth in the league, right behind Jackson. When Spokane gave up its franchise in 1957, both played for Wenatchee, where Huffman hit .327. After the season, both men retired.
Huffman later taught junior high school in Cheney, became a contractor and worked as a Spokane County building inspector. He coached American Legion ball in Coeur d’Alene. Later he became Jackson’s longtime assistant coach with the Appleway Chevrolet Legion team in Spokane.
They laughed a lot.
“They were both funny, both fierce competitors who couldn’t stand to lose, and they were short,” said Jackson’s widow, Sally. “They were a great pair, two great guys. No matter what line someone fed them, they always had an answer.”
Huffman appeared in 415 pro games and batted .303. Jackson played in 884 games over eight seasons and hit .304.