Gerald A. Oswald Sr., a pro baseball scout who once practiced with Yankee greats, and who later taught neighborhood kids how to play ball, died at his Mineola home Thursday. He was 93.
As a 19-year-old from East New York, Brooklyn, Oswald was recruited by Yankees head scout Paul Krichell.
Oswald and his minor league team shared the practice field with living legends like Joe DiMaggio, said Oswald's son-in-law, Patrick Manning of New York City.
But Oswald was most struck by the kindness and encouragement he received from Babe Dahlgren -- the first baseman who would step in to relieve Lou Gehrig.
An infielder, Oswald also played minor league ball for the St. Louis Cardinals and other teams. He was never called up to the majors, however.
"He felt he could have made it," if not for the war and family obligations, Manning said.
Oswald joined the Army in 1941 and ended World War II as a decorated sergeant in the Corps of Engineers, the family said.
The Cardinals later hired him as a tri-state scout, a post he held for many years. In 1979, he helped recruit outfielder Andy Van Slyke, a future all-star.
To help make ends meet, Oswald joined the marketing team for the Louis Sherry ice cream company, retiring in 1984.
Oswald married Peggy Reilly in 1950. The couple moved to Long Island, where they raised a sports-minded family.
Among neighborhood kids, Oswald was constantly in demand, his daughter said.
"Little kids from the neighborhood would knock on the door and say 'Can Gerry come out?' " said Peggy Oswald Manning.
He let anyone who wanted try on one of his most prized possessions: the World Series ring for the Cardinals' 1967 victory.
He was generous to adult neighbors, too, helping them with errands like grocery shopping or visiting them in the hospital, his daughter said.
His grandchildren relied on him, not only to play ball, but to drive them whenever needed.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include sons Gerald A. Oswald Jr. of New City, N.Y., and Thomas Oswald of Mineola; and eight grandchildren.
Visitation at Donohue-Cecere Funeral Home in Westbury will be Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Westbury. Burial with military honors will follow at Holy Rood Cemetery.