The Houston Astros announced Wednesday that former infielder Denis Menke passed away at the age of 80 at his home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
On Wednesday, the Houston Astros were saddened to announce the death of former infielder, Denis Menke. The two-time All-Star shortstop played for the Astros from 1968-1971, 1974, where he played alongside the late, great Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan. The two were a dynamic middle infield combo that provided some of the best double play efficiencies in the game. Menke would end up being traded with Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1971 season, and the duo flipped double plays until Menke was traded back to Houston in 1974.
Over his 13-year career, Menke played for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, Astros and Reds. While being mainly a platoon player, the right-hander hit below average compared to today, but what he lacked in power he made up for in putting the ball in play. In 1969, Menke finished 15th in NL MVP voting with the Astros along with his first All-Star appearance with his second coming in 1970. Menke played all 4 infield positions along with a short stretch in the outfield while sustaining a fielding percentage of .969.
One of Menke’s greatest achievements was hitting a grand slam in the same inning as the “Toy Cannon,” Jimmy Wynn. Menke last saw the field as a player on July 10, 1974 with the Astros, but a short coaching career emerged soon after. While bouncing around from Minor League teams to the majors, Menke found himself back in Houston in 1983 as the hitting coach before moving to the third base coaching job in 1988.
Menke made it to two World Series in his career as a player and a coach, but never brought home a ring. The former Astro was out of baseball by 2000 after his bench coaching stint with the Cincinnati Reds, which ended a 32-year career with the game. Menke passed away on Dec. 1 at the age of 80 at his home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.