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.
Shelby (NC) Star obituary
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