Steve Shea, a reliever on the Montreal Expos first team, passed away on March 4 in North Hampton, N.H., at the age of 72.
A cause of death was not released, but a comment below his online obituary suggests that it was not unexpected.
The right-handed throwing Shea was purchased by the Expos from the Houston Astros on April 3, 1969 along with fellow pitchers Howie Reed and Leo Marentette. With Shea’s passing, all three of those players have now died. Reed died of heart failure in 1984, while Marentette died of a heart attack last May.
Shea debuted with the Expos on April 9, 1969, the team’s second game, and kept the New York Mets off the scoreboard for two-thirds of an inning in a 9-5 loss. In all, he posted a 2.87 ERA in 10 relief appearances for the Expos that spring, which proved to be his final stint in the big leagues.
Born in Worcester, Mass., in 1942, Shea grew up in Bedford, Mass., and attended the University of Massachusetts prior to to being signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1961. After three seasons in the Cubs’ system, the 6-foot-3 righty was released and would later sign with the Houston Astros on August 30, 1965.
It was in the Astros’ organization that Shea experienced his greatest success. With Class-A Cocoa of the Florida State League in 1966, he won 12 games and posted a 1.76 ERA in 46 contests. He followed that up by registering a 2.56 ERA in 48 Double-A appearances the following campaign and a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts in Triple-A in 1968 before he was called up by the Astros.
In his major league debut on July 14, 1968, he pitched 1-1/3 scoreless innings and collected the win in the Astros’ 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He would toe the rubber in 29 more games for the Astros that season and finish with six saves and a 3.38 ERA.
After beginning 1969 with the Expos, Shea was sent to the Triple-A Vancouver Mounties to finish the campaign. He started 1970 with the International League’s Buffalo Bisons, before the club folded and moved to Winnipeg. He returned to Winnipeg the ensuing year, his last as a pro, and served as a pitcher/manager with the club.
After hanging up his playing spikes, Shea earned an MBA from Boston College and later worked as a bank executive for more than 20 years. He was the president & CEO of the Rockingham Bank Corporation when he elected to retire in 1997.
In 1998, Shea joined the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund and later created the Central Asia-American Education Fund, which has since helped hundreds of students from Central Asia obtain an education in business and economics. He continued as a president of that fund until his death.
Shea is survived by his wife, Connie, two daughters, Colleen and Carrie, and four grandchildren.