Milton “Mickey” Weintraub, who called himself a bush leaguer, despite a stint in the Majors, died Thursday, Aug. 13, in St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon.
He was 91.
Not only could he play ball, he also spun some amazing yarns about the game.
“My dad was a fabulous storyteller,” said his son, Chuck Weintraub. “He told all these stories [at] Jewish fundraisers and for Dapper Dan … they could generate donations for other causes.”
Weintraub didn’t have to concoct his best stories, like the one about spring training with his beloved New York Giants. He was in the field when the malaria he contracted in the Pacific during World War II suddenly flared up, leaving him temporarily blind.
“He tells the story of yelling over to the second baseman, ‘you’ll have to walk me off the field,’ ” his son recalled.
“They had to walk him off the field of his dream team.”
He never played Major League baseball again.
Born in Brooklyn in 1917, Weintraub’s baseball career began around 1939 and ended in 1949. During that time, his batting average hovered in the high .200s and sometimes hit .300.
He played minor league ball in San Diego and Trenton, N.J., and Major League ball for the Washington Senators.
He always called his brief stint in the big leagues his “cup of coffee” with the Majors, but it supplied him with stories he wrote for Elysian Fields Quarterly, Sports Illustrated and the Longboat Key Observer for years to come, and made him a hit as a luncheon speaker.
Weintraub ended his playing days as the colorful owner-player-manager of the Wytheville (Va.) Statesmen, a minor league ball club in the class AA Blue Ridge League, from 1946 to 1949. During that time, he wrote sports columns for the Wytheville Times, which enabled him to cover his own team.
His articles, son Chuck said, often made good ballplayers look like superstars, which “filled the stands,” not only with fans but with scouts for Major League teams.
“The way they were written they really brought the scouts in,” Chuck said. “In those days, you didn’t make your money by selling 10-cent admissions, you made it by selling players.”
After baseball, he began a 25-year career with Prudential Life Insurance, first in New York, and then in Pittsburgh, where he managed the Mickey Weintraub Agency.
Weintraub married Conover model Rosemary Goodman in New York City in 1949. They were married for 59 years, until she died in 2008. Most of their years together were spent in the South Hills, where they moved in 1954 and raised their three children. They retired to Longboat Key, Fla., in 1983.
A founding member of Temple Emanuel of South Hills and Rolling Hills Country Club, Weintraub also chaired several Pittsburgh insurance, civic and social organizations, including the Charter Life Underwriters, the Renaissance Club, and the Grandstand Managers Club (a support organization of the Pittsburgh Pirates).
He was a graduate of the City College of New York in 1939 and became an inductee in the City College Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. He also earned a masters degree from Columbia University, School of Journalism in 1946 and attended the Yale School of Drama in 1947.
Weintraub served with distinction in the Pacific Theater as an Army Air Corps lieutenant.
He is survived by his daughter, Amy; his sons, Chuck and Andy; and his grandchildren, Marlana Ruth Droz, and Michael and Derek Weintraub. His twin brother, Samuel, preceded him in death.
The family requests that donations be offered to the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation for research.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)