Baseball player included in Nolan Ryan trade is killed in South Carolina, coroner says

A South Carolina native who played Major League Baseball for nine seasons was killed in a car crash.
A South Carolina native who played Major League Baseball for nine seasons was killed in a car crash. Twitter screen grab

A South Carolina man killed in a car crash last week has been identified as a former Major League Baseball player.

Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken identified the man who died in a single-vehicle crash on March 13 as Leroy Stanton, WBTW reported.

Stanton was killed when he drove his Dodge pickup truck through a stop sign, ran off the road, and was ejected from the vehicle after hitting a tree, Lance Cpl. Matt Southern said on the South Carolina Highway Patrol media hotline.

Southern said the 72-year-old Florence man was not wearing a seat belt and “sustained fatal injuries on scene” of the crash that occurred just before 8 p.m.

During his nine-year career, Stanton played for the New York Mets, California (now Los Angeles) Angels and the Seattle Mariners, before being cut by the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of spring training in 1981, according to Baseball Reference.

Stanton, who was a member of the Mariners during the franchise’s inaugural season in 1977, was remembered by the team on Twitter as its “original Opening Day right fielder.”

The Latta native was included with Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan in a 1971 trade from the Mets to the Angels, according to Baseball Reference.

That move is considered one of the worst trades made in baseball history, and was ranked No. 7 on How Stuff Works list.

The best season of Stanton’s career was his first year with the Mariners, when the right handed outfielder played in 133 games, hit 27 home runs, had 90 RBIs and batted .275 — all career highs — according to Baseball Reference.

“May he rest in peace,” the Mariners tweeted.

The fatal crash remains under investigation by highway patrol.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.