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Mullen, oldest living Phillies alumnus, passes away

Ford "Moon" Mullen, who became the oldest living Phillie when pitcher Freddy Schmidt died last fall, passed away on Thursday night. The resident of Stanwood, Wash., celebrated his 96th birthday with family and friends on Feb. 9.

Ironically, Mullen had the same birthday as Schmidt, who would have turned 97.

A left-handed-hitting second baseman, Mullen hit .267 in 118 games with the 1944 Phillies and was drafted into the Army following that season, his only one in the Majors. His claim to fame was getting the lone hit off Boston Braves pitcher Jim Tobin, who threw a no-hitter in his next start.

A Philadelphia columnist nicknamed Mullen "Moon" after a popular comic strip of the time, "Moon Mullins."

Mullen and his wife, Jessie, were married for 72 years. In an interview with the Seattle Times three years ago, Jessie Mullen said she made a pact with her husband early -- she'd go fishing with him if he'd go square dancing with her.

"So we square danced for 33 years, fished for 25 years and traveled for 25 years in our RV," Jessie Mullen said. "It's been a very good life."

"I don't drink and don't smoke. Once I did smoke a pipe, but I never had drink," Mullen said a year ago.

The 5-foot-9 Mullen was the last surviving member of the University of Oregon basketball team (29-5) that won the first NCAA championship during the 1938-39 season.

"I was a guard but spent most of my time on the bench," he said earlier this month. "I was too short."

Two years ago, the Phillies sent Mullen a jersey with his name and No. 1 on the back.

In response, Mullen wrote, "Thank you for sending the Phillies jersey to me on my 94th birthday. ... It was a very nice surprise. My wife, age 93, and I are doing quite well and have reminisced often of our brief stay in Philadelphia. We don't do much at our age but do enjoy our three married children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. We wish good luck for the Phillies in 2011."

Funeral plans are pending.

Al Monchak, who played shortstop for the Phillies in 1940, will turn 96 on March 5, thus becoming the oldest alumnus. Next in line is pitcher Lou Lucier, who'll be 95 on March 23.

Larry Shenk is a contributor to
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