St. Louis Browns' Rollie Stiles, oldest ex-major leaguer, dies at 100

Monday, July 23, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Rolland Stiles, a St. Louis Browns pitcher, is shown during his major league days (circa early 1930s). Stiles, who at 100 was believed to be the oldest former major leaguer, died in his sleep Sunday morning, July 22, 2007, at Bethesda Southgate nursing home in St. Louis County, a spokesman for the nursing home said Monday. A cause of death was not given.

ST. LOUIS — Rollie Stiles, a former St. Louis Brown who at 100 was believed to be the oldest former major leaguer, has died.

Stiles died in his sleep Sunday morning at Bethesda Southgate nursing home in St. Louis County, a spokesman for the nursing home said today. A cause of death was not given.

Born Nov. 17, 1906, in Ratcliff, Ark., Stiles pitched for the Browns in 1930, 1931 and 1933, compiling a 9-14 record with a 5.92 earned run average. Among the hitters he faced: Babe Ruth.

“I had a great game against him,” Stiles recalled in a 2006 interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I held him to three hits.”

Emmett McAuliffe, a board member of the St. Louis Browns fan club and a friend of Stiles, recalled him as a modest and graceful man grateful for his baseball career.

“Everything about him was class,” McAuliffe said. “He knew he wasn’t the greatest player that ever lived. But he loved the game.”

In fact, Stiles played seven more seasons in the minor leagues after his major league career ended. “Even though the salary was bad, to be paid to play a boy’s game was a great line of work to him,” McAuliffe said.

Bill Borst, co-founder of the Browns fan club, said Stiles was scheduled to be the honored guest at the club’s annual dinner Wednesday.

The Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles after the 1953 season. Borst said Stiles’ death leaves 63 surviving Browns. He said only about 10 major leaguers have lived to be 100, “and four of them were old Brownies.”

Stiles worked for Procter & Gamble after finishing his playing career, retiring in 1969. His wife died in 1997. Survivors include four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, according to the Browns fan club.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

With Stiles’ death, several online sites list Billy Werber, 99, as the oldest ex-major leaguer. Werber was a third baseman who played for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants from 1930 to 1942.

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