By Rob Rains
Multiple media outlets in Nicaragua reported Sunday that former Cardinals outfielder David Green had died. He was 61.
The news has not been confirmed by the Cardinals.
La Prensa, a Spanish newspaper in Managua, said that Green’s death was due to a heart attack. Additional details could not be immediately confirmed.
Green was considered one of the best prospects in the game when he was included in a major trade between the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 1982 season but off-the-field problems seemed to keep Green from realizing his full potential.
“He was as talented as anybody I ever played with,” former Cardinals pitcher John Stuper said. “There was nothing he couldn’t do on the field. I loved the guy. It’s very sad.”
Green made his major-league debut with the Brewers as a 20-year-old in 1981, then was traded that December to the Cardinals with Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano and Lary Sorensen for Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich.
Green made the Cardinals roster to begin the 1982 season as a 21-year-old but hit just .147 in 21 games and was sent back to Triple A.
He became the Cardinals primary center fielder in 1983 and 1984 and enjoyed solid seasons. He hit .284 with 69 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in 1983, then hit 15 home runs and drove in 65 runs the following season.
In December 1984 Green was part of the package, again along with LaPoint, that the Cardinals traded to the Giants in exchange for Jack Clark.
Green played in 106 games in 1985 for the Giants then returned briefly, for 14 games, with the Cardinals in 1987, which marked the end of his major-league career.
Green was a native of Nicaragua who grew up playing soccer.
“He didn’t start playing baseball until he was 16 or something like that,” LaPoint said.
“I remember seeing him in spring training and he dribbled a soccer ball down the field as fast as Kevin Bass was running a sprint.
“He could take infield with both hands. The best athletes I’ve ever seen in my life would probably be him and Robin Yount.”
Stuper was among Green’s former teammates who saw his ability to hit for power, hit for average, run and who had a cannon for an arm.
“In Triple A he helped me get my ERA down because nobody would run on him, even with two outs,” Stuper said. “He saved a lot of runs for our guys.”
The newspaper report said Green is survived by his wife and a daughter.
Green is the fourth member of the 1982 Cardinals who has died, following the deaths of Darrell Porter, Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar.
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