Sunday, May 1, 2011

Emilio 'Millito' Navarro, 105, world's oldest living baseball player

Emilio "Millito" Navarro, the world's oldest living baseball player died April 30, 2011, at his home in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He was 105. Emilio 'Millito' Navarro, the Puerto Rican legend who played for the New York Cuban Stars in the Negro League from 1928-29, died Saturday in Ponce. He was 105.

The New York Yankees honored Navarro in 2008, selecting him in the ceremonial Negro Leagues draft. He was brought to Yankee Stadium where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Navarro's toss reached catcher Jorge Posada on the fly from 30 feet away. On the heels of his 103rd birthday, Navarro was astounded by the homage Yankees made.

"This is a dream for me," Navarro said. "I think I am in heaven."

Inducted into the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992, the second baseman was the first Puerto Rican to play in the Negro Leagues. Standing only 5'5", Navarro impressed with his quick bat, flashy hands and speed.

Navarro played for 20 seasons with the Ponce Lions in the Puerto Rican Winter League, as well as playing in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. After his playing career was over, he was a physical education teacher and coach in Ponce and Caguas. Active past the age of 100, Navarro would often do exercises in public to demonstrate his fitness.

'Millito' gained notoriety in the past few years for being the world's oldest living professional baseball player. Topps honored Navarro in 2009 with an official baseball card in their Allen and Ginter set. In 2010, he was given the America's Outstanding Oldest Worker award from Experience Works.

Navarro is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. His wife died more than two decades ago at age 62 from breast cancer.


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