Cruz, of Orioles' 1983 championship team, dies in swimming accident

Updated: September 5, 2008, 1:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BALTIMORE -- Todd Cruz, who just six weeks ago was part of a 25th anniversary celebration of the Baltimore Orioles' 1983 World Series championship, has died. He was 52.

Cruz, an infielder on that team, died Tuesday while swimming at the apartment complex in which he lived in Bullhead City, Ariz. The cause of death is pending results of an autopsy conducted by the Mohave County Medical Examiner's Office.

Cruz played with six major league teams from 1978 to 1984. He broke into the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies, then played with Kansas City, the California Angels and Chicago White Sox in 1979-80. He did not play in the majors in 1981, but the following season played in 136 games with Seattle.

He was traded by the Mariners to the Orioles in the middle of the 1983 season and batted .208 as Baltimore's third baseman. In the World Series against Philadelphia, won in five games by the Orioles, Cruz went 2-for-16 and scored a run.

"Being with these guys here is like being a little kid ... getting ready for Christmas," Cruz said about the anniversary reunion, according to the Baltimore Sun. "I love them all, and I'll be an Oriole for the rest of my life."

He served as a utility infielder with the Orioles in 1984, his final major league season. He also pitched in a game, throwing a scoreless inning against New York in a 10-2 loss on Sept. 18.

"Todd really enjoyed that year," Gary Roenicke, an outfielder on the 1983 team, told the Sun. "Even though he'd played for many other teams, he always thought of himself as an Oriole. He had an outgoing personality, he talked real fast and he kept everybody loose, on and off the field. And he sure filled a gap on our team that needed to be filled."

Cruz had a lifetime .220 batting average in 544 games. He had 336 hits, including 34 home runs, and finished with 154 RBIs.

His most active season was 1983, when he played in 65 games Seattle and 81 with Baltimore. He finished with a .199 batting average that year.

Bullhead City Fire Department spokesman Larry Tunforss said bystanders pulled Cruz from the pool and were performing CPR when three city paramedics arrived. They took over life-saving efforts and transported him to a hospital.

Mohave County Medical Examiner Dr. Rexene Worrell said it will take about two weeks before an autopsy report on Cruz is completed and an exact cause of death confirmed.

Cruz is survived by a sister, Sharon Maceri, and two sons, Thaddeus and Dario.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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