Shelby, North Carolina native Billy Champion, one of the many young pitchers promoted by the Phillies from 1969-72, passed away on January 7, 2016 at age 69.
Champion played 4 years in class-A ball, including a 15-5 record in 1968.
With the loss of starting pitchers Chris Short (to injury) and Larry Jackson (expansion draft), Champion stepped into the starting rotation as a rookie in 1969, making 20 starts and compiling a 5-10 record for an awful team.
He spent 1970 mostly in the minors, as Short returned to the lineup and the team re-acquired Jim Bunning. Champion returned for 2 more seasons with the Phillies, as a reliever in '71 and as the team's #2 starter (a distant #2, behind Steve Carlton) in '72.
Champion was dealt to the Brewers after 1972, and played 3 1/2 years in Milwaukee, his career year coming in 1974 (11-4, 3.62).
Released in June 1976, he finished the season with the Braves' AAA team. His final pro season was 1977, back in the Phillies' minor leagues.
Champion worked as a scout and coach for 5 teams after his playing career.
Bob Sadowski (the utility infielder from '61-'63, not the Braves' pitcher from '63-'65 shown farther below) passed away on January 6, 2017 at age 79.
Sadowski began his career in 1955 with the class-D Hazlehurst-Baxley Cardinals (how's THAT for a team name?) in the Georgia State League.
He played in the minors every year from 1955-69, except for spending all of 1962 with the White Sox and all of 1963 with the Angels. He also appeared for the Phillies for part of 1961, and one game for the Cards in 1960.