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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 19, 2019

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Francine du Plessix Gray, journalist and novelistMel Stottlemyre, NY Yankees' pitching ace

Art and Literature

Francine du Plessix Gray (88) French-American writer who, in her novels and journalism, explored the complexities of cultural identity, the obstacles confronting women seeking their place in the world, and her own privileged but anguished early life. Gray was the daughter of a French father and a Russian mother and had arrived in New York at age 10 speaking no English. Her father, Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a down-at-heels aristocrat in the French diplomatic service who, flying from Casablanca to France to join the Free French forces, was killed when his airplane was shot down over Gibraltar. Her mother, Tatiana Yakovleva, was a Russian whose family fled to Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution. After the death of her husband, she escaped France with her daughter and Alexander Liberman, future editorial director of publisher Condé Nast, whom she later married. Gray chronicled her privileged but emotionally deprived childhood and her troubled relationship with her father, mother, and stepfather in Them: A Memoir of Parents, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2006. She died of congestive heart failure in New York City on January 13, 2019.


Mel Stottlemyre (77) made his mark on the pitcher’s mound: started Game 7 of the World Series, earned five championship rings as a pitching coach, and wound up with a plaque at Monument Park. But his most enduring impression might have come with the bat—more than 50 years later, he remains the last pitcher to hit an inside-the-park grand slam. Stottlemyre was the ace who later oversaw stellar staffs for both the New York Yankees and Mets. Arriving at Yankee Stadium in August 1964, he posted a 9-3 record while helping the Yankees to win a fifth straight pennant. He then faced Bob Gibson, the St. Louis Cardinals’ future Hall of Fame pitcher, three times in the World Series. The Yankees were beaten by the Cardinals in seven games, but Stottlemyre became an anchor of their pitching staff. In his 11 seasons with the Yankees, a long stretch of largely lean years after decades of dominance, he was one of their few bright spots. A right-hander featuring a superb sinkerball, he was a five-time All-Star and a three-time 20-game winner. Stottlemyre had suffered from multiple myeloma for nearly 20 years. He died in Seattle, Washington on January 13, 2019.

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