Ed Ott, catcher on Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1979 World Series champions, dead at 72

Ed Ott

Former major league catcher Ed Ott, who helped the Pittsburgh Pirates’ “Fam-A-Lee” to the 1979 World Series title, died Sunday. He was 72.

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The Pirates confirmed the death of Ott, who died in Danville, Pennsylvania, The Tribune-Democrat reported. No details about his death were provided.

“We are saddened by the loss of such a beloved member of the Pirates family,” Pirates President Travis Williams said. “Ed spent seven of his eight years in the major leagues with the Pirates and was a valued member of our World Series championship team in 1979. It was great to see him last summer when he was in Pittsburgh to support former teammate Kent Tekulve at our Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“Our sincere condolences to his wife, Sue, daughter Michelle, and the entire Ott family.”

Ott caught 117 games with the Pirates in 1979, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He caught the bulk of the team’s games that year but also shared duties behind the plate with Steve Nicosia.

Born in Muncy, Pennsylvania, Ott attended Muncy High School and was drafted out of high school by the Pirates in the 23rd round of the MLB June Amateur Draft.

He played seven of his eight major-league seasons with the Pirates before finishing his career in California with the Angels in 1981, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

His best season was during the Pirates’ championship season of 1979, when he had career highs in batting average (.273) and RBI (51).

He was also the answer to a trivia question for many years as the player with the shortest number of letters in the names he used as a player -- “Ed Ott,” five letters -- if one uses “Ed” and not his given name of Nathan Edward Ott.

The Pirates rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the 1979 World Series, winning games 5, 6 and 7 to defeat the Baltimore Orioles.

Ott batted .333 against Baltimore, driving in three runs, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Two came when he doubled in the second inning of a 9-6 loss to the Orioles in Game 4 at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium.

He was also named the National League Player of the Week on Sept. 3, 1978.

After retiring as an active player, Ott served as a minor league coach with the Angels, Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, The Associated Press reported. He later worked with big league staffs with the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers, according to the news organization.

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