The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 24, 2013

Former Cubs pitcher Tremel passes away

Former major-leaguer and enshrinee in the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame Bill Tremel died on Sunday in Hollidaysburg. He was 84.

Tremel, a 2002 inductee into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame and the only major-league to hail from Lilly, was born on July 4, 1929 in Lilly, where he attended high school and played football and basketball along with baseball at Lilly High School.

A plaque honoring his legacy in the game and in the community stands behind the backstop at Lilly’s War Memorial Field.

He received that honor in 1999.

Tremel signed a professional contract with the Boston Braves in 1948 after graduating from Lilly High School.

It was his efforts at an American Legion all-star game in 1947 that first drew scouting eyes to him.

“I went to Uniontown to an (American) Legion all-star game in 1947,” Tremel told The Tribune-Democrat  before his 2002 induction into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame. “The (scouts) started to follow me then. I was signed by Jack Reider of the Boston Braves right after graduating.”

Tremel played 11 seasons of professional baseball, reaching the majors with the Chicago Cubs in June of 1954.

Tremel recalled that his first appearance with the Cubs saw him work out of a jam in the eighth inning when the Giants’ Willie Mays sent a ball right back to Tremel at the mound. Tremel recorded the out by throwing Mays out at first.

Tremel pitched two innings, allowing two runs on three hits with a strikeout in a 5-0 loss to New York at Wrigley Field on June 12.

His first big-league win came on July 8 against the Milwaukee Braves when he logged seven innings of scoreless relief in the Cubs’ 9-8 win at Wrigley Field.  

He played in portions of three seasons in Chicago, making his last major-league appearance on April 27, 1956.

The right-handed hurler – nicknamed “Mumbles” – was 4-2 in 57 big-league appearances with a 4.05 ERA over 91 innings pitched.

While his career was brief, the pride back home in Lilly was bountiful.

“When an athlete reaches the major leagues or plays at any professional level, communities feel a distinct, special sense of pride,” said Hugh Conrad, a native of Lilly and graduate of the former Lilly Washington High School, who was a freelance writer for The Tribune-Democrat for 21 years. “That occurred with Bill Tremel because he was, and is to this day, the only professional athlete from either Lilly or Washington Township.”

Tremel spent time with the Cubs as a closer, statisticians did not record the number of saves compiled by pitchers until years later. Baseball-almanac.com credits Tremel with six career saves.

His minor-league career featured stops in Shreveport of the Texas League along with Portland and Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League.

He spent 1957 through 1959 in Class AA before calling it a career. After leaving the game, Tremel spent 31 years with the SKF corporation in Altoona before retiring in 1991.

The Stevens Mortuary Inc., 1421 Eighth Ave., Altoona is handling arrangements.

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