With the recent passing of Gil Coan, Transylvania County lost a local legend and Major League Baseball lost a piece of its history.
Coan passed away last Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the age of 97. At the time of his death, Coan was the third-oldest living former Major League Baseball player, having played in 918 games in the majors from 1946 to 1956.
During his MLB career, Coan played for the Washington Senators, the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox before finally ending his career with the New York Giants.
Known as one of the fastest players in the league during his day, Coan’s baseball career was even more impressive given an injury suffered early in his life.
Born on May 18, 1922, Coan developed an infection when he was 10 years old that nearly led to the amputation of his left thumb. Coan would later say the injury didn’t affect his batting, but certainly made it more difficult to throw a baseball.
Coaches tried to get him to play using a prosthetic, but Coan said it was too cumbersome, and simply adapted to his condition.
Coan spent most of his formative years growing up in Mineral Springs, N.C., where he played baseball, football and basketball at Mineral Springs…