Hank Weaver, the oldest living former Spokane Indians baseball player, died May 5 in Phoenix at the age of 95.
Also believed to be the oldest ex-Western International League player, Weaver devoted more than 40 years to the sport, beginning as a right-handed pitcher. Long terms as a Spokane-area umpire and a bird-dog scout for major-league organizations followed.
Weaver, born Nov. 11, 1921, in Houston, was a nephew of Lon Warneke, a 1930s National League pitching star, who was his mother’s brother.
Right out of high school at age 17 in 1939, Weaver signed his first pro contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. Assigned to Washington of the Pennsylvania State Association, he put up a 14-6 record and, in 1940, went 15-13 for Albany of the Georgia-Florida League. After two more seasons, he continued pitching during three years of military service capped by an appearance in the Pacific Olympics for the Marianas All-Stars.
Weaver returned to the minors in 1946 and, sometimes playing in the outfield, hit three home runs in a West Texas-New Mexico League game. On Aug. 27, 1948, with Hammond (Evangeline League), he struck out 13 and no-hit New Iberia 6-0. He began the next year with Wenatchee and Spokane of the WIL, appearing in 18 games for the Indians before a cut finger, suffered earlier in the season, sent his career into a tailspin.
He last pitched for the Indians in early 1951 and completed his playing days as a pitcher-outfielder with Moose Jaw in the Western Canada League, a fast semipro circuit.
While working 1949-83 as a railroad switchman and foreman, Weaver fit in 22 seasons as a college umpire, particularly in the Pacific Coast Conference, and 28 seasons as the state’s pari-mutuels supervisor at Playfair Race Course. He also scouted for the Angels, Tigers, Pirates and Dodgers and helped San Diego sign Kevin Towers, who pitched briefly for Spokane before becoming general manager of the Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Weaver is survived his second wife, Pam, at their Arizona home, as well as a daughter, Cheryl Kromm, and a son, Jim, both of Spokane.
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