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Baseball remembers Slaughter

Published Sep. 3, 2005

The local baseball community is mourning the death of Enos "Country" Slaughter.

Slaughter, who died Monday in Durham, N.C., was in Citrus County on Feb. 17 for his induction into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. Uniforms, bats and pictures from Slaughter's playing days are on display at the Williams Museum.

Executive director John Kriston said Slaughter's memorabilia case will be marked with a black bow for 30 days. He had been to every Hitters Hall of Fame induction since 1994, Kriston said.

"Enos was always very vocal and part of the party," Kriston said. "He enjoyed all the fans very much and would sit and talk baseball for hours with anybody who wanted.

"It's a loss of our family and the baseball community and more importantly to the world because Enos was a gentleman and a terrific sports hero," Kriston said.

Fellow Hall of Famer and Homosassa resident Monte Irvin last spoke with Slaughter in New York in February. Slaughter didn't attend July's Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown for the first time since his 1985 ceremony, but Irvin saw Slaughter's daughter.

Slaughter and Irvin faced each other on the field in 1949 when Irvin was a member of the New York Giants and Slaughter played for the Cardinals. Irvin remembers him as a good left-handed hitter and outfielder.

Irvin said Slaughter had his differences with Jackie Robinson when the latter joined the Dodgers as the first black player in the majors.

"One time he and Jackie got into a scuffle, and he told Jackie, "I'm not hard on you because you're black, but I'm hard on all rookies,' " Irvin said.

"He and Jackie got it all squared away and shook hands."

Even Irvin had a slight problem with Slaughter, but the two spoke candidly in later years after becoming friends.

Irvin called Slaughter a "changed person," and got to know him better during a Hall of Famers Caribbean cruise about five years ago.

"Everybody liked Enos once he got rid of that good-old boy image, and I'm sorry to hear that he's gone," Irvin said. "He did a lot for baseball."