Ex-Villanova AD Art Mahan dies at 97

Updated: December 9, 2010, 6:56 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Art Mahan, a longtime athletic director and baseball coach at Villanova and the oldest living member of the Philadelphia Phillies, died Tuesday. He was 97.

Mahan, a 1936 graduate of Villanova, was baseball coach at his alma mater from 1950 to 1973. He compiled a record of 236-169-5, with four trips to the NCAA tournament. He also served as Villanova's athletic director from 1961 to 1973 and as vice president of athletics from 1973 until his retirement in 1978.

But Mahan was also well-known as the oldest-living Phillie, playing one major league season before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He hit .244 with two home runs and 39 RBI in 1940, his lone big-league season.

"The Phillies send our heartfelt condolences to the Mahan family," said Phillies team president David Montgomery. "As the oldest living Phillie, Art's passing is a loss to our family as well. We mourn his death, along with all who knew him."

His son, Edwin Mahan, said Art Mahan still received two or three autograph requests each week, given his status as the oldest living Phillie and the fourth-oldest living major leaguer.

"One guy sent a box of 12 official major league baseballs and wanted him to sign each one," Edwin Mahan said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "And he sent a check along with it. My dad signed every one, but he sent the check back with the balls. He never took one penny for signing."

In an interview with the Catholic Standard & Times earlier this year, Mahan talked about a slump he had in the minor leagues.

"The Augustinian priests kept telling me to have faith in the saints and to ask St. Jude for help when I would step up to bat," Mahan said. "After trying this, it was quickly obvious that St. Jude couldn't hit a curveball, either."