There are quite a few people who dream about becoming a professional athlete, partly because it gives them a chance to play a game that they really love for a living, but also because it is the kind of job that allows someone to live a very lavish lifestyle. Most of these people's dreams will not come true though, as there are only a handful of individuals who can actually deal with the physical and mental stresses associated with professional sports. Amongst the few that do make it to the highest level of competition, only the very best of them will be able to enjoy lengthy careers. With all that being said though, a professional athlete, when you take away the money and skill, is a regular person just like the rest of us, which means that they too have to face dark times in their lives.
No matter if they play football, basketball, hockey, or baseball, a professional athlete will have to deal with troubling times, whether it be professionally with long stretches of poor play, or serious injury, or personally. When it comes to personal issues, a professional athlete will have to deal with things like losing a lot of money, losing loved ones, or having to deal with some sort of serious medical or mental issue, all of which can be too much for a person to handle themselves. When such issues become too much to handle, some people, whether they are a professional athlete or not, will choose to end their sadness or pain by taking their own lives.
The purpose of this list is to specifically identify 15 baseball players who you probably did not know committed suicide.
15 Brian Powell
In 1998, Brian Powell made his MLB debut with the Detroit Tigers, and over the course of his six-year career as a reliever, he managed to also play with the Houston Astros, the San Francisco Giants, and the Phillies. Powell played in his final MLB game in 2004, finishing his career with 7 wins, 120 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.94, but he did not officially retire from the game until 2005, after spending that year playing for Washington's minor league team. Following his retirement, Powell moved to Florida, and it became quite obvious that he suffered from some serious demons, because in 2009, when he was just 35 years old, he died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which the coroner later ruled to be a suicide.
14 Del Bissonette
We continue with Del Bissonette, a player that most baseball fans have never heard of before, which is completely understandable seeing as he played his final MLB game in 1933 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bissonette was a first baseman, who in a five-year playing career, was able to achieve a .305 batting average, while hitting 66 home runs, and driving in 391 runs. After retiring, he went on to become the Manager of the Boston Braves in 1945, and then spent the following two years as the team's coach, before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates as a coach. In the end, 1947 was the last time Bissonette coached in the Majors, and his time away from the game proved to be rather depressing, as he eventually took his own life in 1972 after shooting himself at the age of 72.
13 Hideki Irabu
Hideki Irabu was born in Okinawa, Japan, and pitched in the country's Pacific League for eight years (1988-96) before deciding to come play in the MLB, where he debuted with the New York Yankees in 1997. It was with New York that he found the most success, as he was part of the team that won back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999, but he also played for the Expos and Rangers before finishing his professional career in Japan in 2004. In 2011, while living in Los Angeles, Irabu hung himself in his home, with the primary reason behind his suicide being that his wife was leaving him and taking their children with her. It was then revealed that the 42-year-old was inebriated at the time of his death, which means that his judgement at the time may have been significantly impaired.
12 Mike Flanagan
Of all the people on this list, Mike Flanagan is probably the most successful, as he pitched in the MLB for 17 seasons, where he won one World Series, and one Cy Young Award, both with the Baltimore Orioles. After retiring in 1992, Flanagan went on to become Baltimore's pitching coach, and then served as a team broadcaster before being named the team's Vice President of Baseball Operations. His time as VP did not go well though, and according to his wife, the whole experience left him discouraged for over a decade, and when you combine that with the fact that he was dealing with financial issues, it is no wonder that he battled depression for several years. Flanagan lost that battle though, and it ended in 2011 when he died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
11 Dan Thomas
When it comes to baseball, very few players are capable of having a career that lasts longer than a few years, and a lot of the time, a player will finish their professional career without ever playing a full season in the Majors. This is basically what happened with former left fielder, Dan Thomas, who over the course of two years, played a total of 76 games with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he managed to hit 6 home runs, and put up a .274 batting average with 26 RBI. On May 20, 1977, Thomas was demoted to Triple-A, and was never called back up to the Majors again. His life just went downhill from there, as three years later, he was arrested for sexual assault, and while in the jail cell, he chose to hang himself.
10 Virgil Stallcup
Virgil Stallcup is another player whose name is all but forgotten, seeing as he played his last game in 1953, but he did manage to play in the Majors for six years for both the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals before retiring. The shortstop played in 587 games, where he put up a .241 batting average, 22 home runs, and 214 RBI, which basically made him a utility player. After retiring, Stallcup went on to become a minor league baseball manager, which did not work out too well as it was a very brief endeavor, and that failure caused him to leave the game of baseball altogether. In 1989, while in his South Carolina home, Stallcup took his own life after he shot himself in the chest.
9 Carlos Bernier
With this entry we have Carlos Bernier, who is the first non-American to appear on this list, and his career was pretty forgettable, as he only played in the Majors for one season as a member of the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates. This outfielder hailed from Puerto Rico, and based on his numbers, which included just 3 home runs, 31 RBI, and a .213 batting average, it is no wonder that his MLB career was so short. Bernier went on to spend the rest of his playing days in the minors, where for some reason, he was a much better hitter, having batted close to .300 and hitting 200 home runs. In 1989, at the age of 62, Bernier died in his Puerto Rican home, after shooting himself in the chest.
8 Donnie Moore
In order to win in today's MLB, teams need to have good relievers, and 40 years ago, that was still pretty much true, even though relievers were used a lot less than they are today because starters went deep into games much more frequently. Donnie Moore was one of those relievers, and in a career that spanned 13 years (1975-88), he pitched for five different teams, including the Chicago Cubs, and the California Angels, the team he became an All-Star with in 1985. In 1989, a few months after retiring from the game, Moore got into an argument with his wife in their Anaheim home, which resulted in him shooting her 3 times with a pistol while their children were in the house. Luckily, his wife lived after being rushed to the hospital by one of their daughters, but Donnie went on to shoot himself in the head. He was 35.
7 Charlie Shoemaker
As a franchise, the Oakland Athletics have managed to win nine World Series titles, with most of those wins coming when the team was located in Philadelphia, but prior to moving to Oakland, the team spent 12 years (1955-67) in Kansas City. Former second baseman Charlie Shoemaker, played his entire three-year career with the team while it was in Kansas City, where he put up a .258 batting average, 4 RBI and 0 home runs in just 28 games. It was because of that rather poor performance that Shoemaker spent the last 7 years of his playing career in the minors, and at 50 years of age, 19 years after leaving the game for good, he took his own life in 1990 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
6 Doug Ault
Doug Ault played in the MLB for parts of four years (1976-80), time which was spent with both the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, and after being sent down to Toronto's minor league affiliate, he went on to play one year in Japan. The former first baseman finished his career having played in 256 Major League games, where he batted just .238, hit 17 home runs, and scored 86 runs. After a brief period of time as a minor league manager, Ault left baseball altogether, and in 1994, he became a car dealer, a job that he had for 10 years before taking his own life with a gun in 2004. Leading up to his suicide, Ault had to deal with personal tragedies and bankruptcies, which led him into a rather deep depression.
5 Terry Enyart
The Blue Jays may now be considered to be Canada's team, but there was a time when they had to share the country's spotlight, because the Montreal Expos existed for 35 years before being relocated to Washington in 2004. The Expos actually had quite a few good players over the course of their history, but Terry Enyart was not one of them, as the former pitcher appeared in just two MLB games in 1974, where he recorded just 2 strikeouts, while posting an absurdly high ERA of 16.20. Enyart never appeared in another MLB game, and did nothing noteworthy for 33 years, until 2007, where at 56 years of age, he snapped and shot himself in the head in his Florida home, after hitting his wife, shooting and killing their son, and strangling the family dog.
4 Craig Stimac
The San Diego Padres are currently having a rather bad year, which is nothing new as far as team history is concerned seeing as the franchise has only made the postseason a total of five times. In fairness though, the Padres have never had a good core group of players, and over the years, they have had a number of players who have either been bad, or at best mediocre, and Craig Stimac was one of the bad ones. The former catcher played in just 29 MLB games, all with the Padres during the 1980-81 seasons, where he had no home runs, just 7 RBI, and a dismal .203 batting average. Stimac never played in another MLB game after that, but continued his playing career for another 5 years (1984-89) in Italy, and in 2009, while in Italy, he took his own life with his gun.
3 Hiroyuki Oze
With the MLB being the best baseball league in the world, it only makes sense that most of the individuals on this list played in it at some point, but with this entry, we will be focusing on someone who never played a single game in North America. Hiroyuki Oze was a Japanese outfielder who played for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League, and he showed a lot of promise as he hit .262 in his rookie year in 2008, and then .303 the following season. Oze definitely had a bright future ahead of him, but that future was abruptly cut short on February 5, 2010, when he ended his own life by jumping from the 10th floor of his hotel during spring training in Okinawa.
2 Ryan Freel
Concussions have become a major talking point in the world of sports lately, primarily thanks to contact sports like football and hockey, but there have been baseball players who have had to deal with concussions as well. Ryan Freel was one of those players, and over the course of an eight-year career, he sustained several concussions while playing with the Cubs, Toronto, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Cincinnati. It was actually because of a concussion, that Freel was forced to retire in 2009. Three years later, while in his Florida home, he killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The main factor behind Freel's suicide was a degenerative neurological condition brought about by multiple concussions, but it was also revealed that Freel suffered from several mental illnesses, such as impulse control disorder, adult ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
1 Enzo Hernandez
With this entry, we return to the lowly San Diego Padres, who in 1971, brought former shortstop Enzo Hernandez into the MLB, and he would actually go on to play in the Majors for parts of eight seasons. He may have played for several years, but Hernandez was not a very good player, as evidenced by the fact that in 714 career games, he posted a .224 batting average which included 2 home runs and 113 RBI; but to his credit, he did play better while playing in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. In 2013, Hernandez was found dead in his home in Venezuela, and it was ruled a suicide that was brought about by him overdosing on pain killers, which were prescribed to him in order to ease his pain as he was dealing with a long and serious illness at the time.