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He’s Made The List! Fullerton native Bob Ross is No. 94 on the oldest living baseball players list and is climbing

It’s been more than 60 years since Bob Ross threw his last major league pitch, but recently the baseball world has again taken notice of the former Fullerton hurler.
Earlier this year, Ross appeared on Baseball Almanac’s list of the 100 Oldest Living Baseball  Players.  At 89 years, 35 days old, Ross currently holds down the No. 94 spot on the list, just below Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, who beats out Ross by 12 days.
Bob Ross’s 1954 Topps baseball card from when he was with the Washington Senators. (Courtesy of Bob Ross)On Dec. 2, 2017, Bob Ross was welcomed as a special guest to the Society for Baseball Research Los Angeles chapter meeting held at the La Habra Library. Ross, holding the two Topps baseball cards that he appeared on, was there to support his friend and former major league pitcher, Paul Pettit, who spoke to the group of baseball historians. (Courtesy of David Jerome)Bob Ross’s 1952 Topps baseball card from when he was with the Washington Senators. (Courtesy of Bob Ross)Show Caption of Expand
Ross also became the second player with a Fullerton connection on Baseball Almanac’s list.  Longtime Fullerton resident Tom Lasorda currently occupies the  No. 69 spot at 90 years, 76 days old.
When asked how he felt about being on the list, Ross said, “It’s a nice thing. I don’t really feel that old, but I guess I am. I told some of my friends about it, and we all had a good laugh.”
Floyd Robert Ross was born at Fullerton’s General Hospital in 1929.  His family lived just down the street in the 100 block of West Amerige, now Fullerton Hardware Store’s parking lot.
On Thursday afternoon, March 31, 1938, the Pittsburgh Pirates played an exhibition game against the Pacific Coast League’s Portland Beavers at Amerige Park.  Ross, an 8-year-old third-grader at Ford School, just a few blocks from the baseball field, was given permission by his mother, Louisa Ross, to attend the game.
“From that day on, I knew what I wanted to do,”  Ross recalled.
As a 15-year-old in 1944, Ross remembers going to a Dodgers’ open tryout at Recreation Park in Long Beach with fellow Fullerton High School teammate and future major league all-star Del Crandall.
“I was a 5-foot-9, 135 pounds, 15-year-old kid, but they kind of liked me”  Ross remembers.  “I was caught that day by Branch Rickey Jr.”
In 1945, Ross was signed by Brooklyn Dodgers legendary scout Tom Downey, who signed many Southern California players including Duke Snider, Dee Fondy and Ross’ friend, Irv Noren, who currently occupies the No. 28 spot on the Oldest Living Players list at 93 years, 8 days.
At 16-years-old, Ross found himself on a cross-country train to pitch for Thomasville in the North Carolina State League.  His father, Floyd, who worked as a house-mover, was apprehensive about sending his teenage son across the country to play baseball, but surprisingly, his mother supported the idea.
“I was paid $200 to show-up and $90 a month.” Ross remembered of his first professional baseball contract.
That summer he pitched in 15 games, 94 innings, and finished with a 5-7 record and a 3.16 ERA.
Ross returned to Fullerton to finish his senior year at Fullerton Union High School, but because he had signed a professional contract, Ross was ineligible to play his last season of high school baseball.
After high school graduation in 1946, Ross was moved-up to the Santa Barbara Dodgers Class C team in the California League.  “They paid me $150 a month, which at that time seemed like all the money in the world!”  Ross said.
Ross spent the next three seasons climbing the Dodgers’ minor league ranks playing in Ft. Worth, Pueblo and St Paul.
On Feb. 6, 1949, Bob and his wife, Jacklyn, who he’d known since the second grade at Ford School, were married at The Chapel of the Bells in Anaheim.  The newlyweds were then off on cross-country trip to Vero Beach, Fla., for spring training.
At the end of the 1949 season, Ross said, “the Dodgers had had enough of me.”  He was taken by the Washington Senators in the minor league draft and assigned to Double-A Chattanooga.
In mid-June 1950, Ross was in New Orleans pitching against the Pelicans when he got the news every minor-leaguer dreams of hearing: “You’re going to the big leagues.”
The next day he flew through thunderstorms from New Orleans to St. Louis to meet-up with the Washington Senators before their double-header against the Browns.
Ross’ first major league appearance came a few days later on June 16, 1950 in Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
“Our starter got knocked out early, and I came in in the third inning, and did pretty well, but we lost,”  Ross remembers of his major league debut.  He pitched five innings that night, giving up four hits, one earned run, three walks and a strike out against the White Sox.
Ross appeared in just six games for the Senators that season.  He still questions whether bringing him up early in the season was the right move.
“It destroyed my confidence,” Ross remembers.  “If I had been a September call-up, and then started the 1951 season with the Senators, I probably would have been alright, but the Senators were desperate for pitching.”
Ross made the 1951 Senators team out of spring training and appeared in 11 games for Washington, pitching 31 innings, and finishing with an 0-1 record and a 6.54 ERA.  In a June 9 game in St. Louis, Ross got the only major league hit of his career off of Browns pitcher Jim Suchecki.
“He made the mistake of hitting my bat with the ball,” Ross deadpanned. “I wasn’t much of a hitter, but they had a short porch in right field at old Sportsman Park, and I hit it off of the right field wall.”  His only major league hit was a double that scored two runs for the Senators.
Midway through the Senators ’51 campaign, Ross was optioned to the Kansas City Blues.  There, Ross was a teammate with a 19-year old prospect named Mickey Mantle, who had also been sent down by the big league club.
In 1952, Ross was in spring training with the Senators when he was drafted into the Army.
“I drove all the way from Orlando, Fla., to Fullerton in two days to answer Uncle Sam’s call,”  Ross said.
He was stationed at Camp Roberts, then later “traded” with a few other soldier-athletes to Fort Ord where he played on his Army division’s baseball team.
Ross returned to professional baseball and spent 1954-55 in Double-A Chattanooga before his contract was sold at the end of the season to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ross appeared in three games for the Phillies in 1956, posting an 8.10 ERA in just 3.1 innings of work.  His contract was sold to the Milwaukee Braves on July 28, 1956 for $30,000 and he was assigned to the Braves’ AAA team in Wichita.  In 1957, again playing for Wichita, Ross appeared in 33 games, the most in his 13 year professional career.
Ross returned to the West Coast in 1958.  He played that season for the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League.
“I loved it,” he said.  “It was the best stop of my career.  The weather, travel, hotels, ballparks, and money were all good.”
By this time, Ross had earned his college degree and a teaching credential from Long Beach State.  He was only playing baseball in the summer when he was free from his teaching job.
His major league career totals were: 20 games, winless in two decisions.  He gave up 55 hits, 38 walks, and struck out 29 in 47 2/3 innings of work.
After his playing days, Ross worked for the Anaheim Union High School District as a teacher, principal and district administrator until his 1984 retirement.  He owned and personally tended to his 20-acre avocado grove in Rancho California well into his 70’s, eventually selling the grove in 2003.
Ross is now retired and living with his second wife, Shirley, in a retirement community in Hemet.  He attributes his health and longevity to a lifetime of exercise.  He currently swims and “can even run a little.”
With continued good luck and good health, in another year or so, there could be three former players with Fullerton connections on Baseball Almanac’s list.  Youngster Del Crandall, at just 87 years, 277 days, currently trails the No. 100 player on the list by about a year.
David Jerome, better known as Mr. Bucketlist, is an author and resident of Fullerton. Follow more of his adventures at Email him at
Source: Oc Register

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