Vern Handrahan, one of only three Major Leaguers from P.E.I. (and the only since 1900), passed away yesterday (November 2) at the age of 79 (born November 27, 1936).
Handrahan was born, raised and learnt his baseball in Charlottetown. He grew up playing ball at Memorial Field in Charlottetown before playing for the H&D League’s Stellarton Albions in 1958. He would begin in the Milwaukee Brave’s system the following year.
He pitched for the Wellsville Braves (New York Penn League) in 1959 and 1960. He moved on the Northern League’s Eau Claire Braves during that 1960 season and returned there the following season. Handrahan would spend the entire 1962 in the Pioneer League with the Boise Braves. Following that season, he as drafted by the Athletics (from the Braves) in the 1962 minor league draft. In 1963, he would split the season between the Northwest League’s Lewiston Broncs and Pacific Coast League’s Portland Beavers. Handrahan would move east in 1964 playing for the Rochester Red Wings (International League). He did, however, start the season with the big club in Kansas City, making his debut on April 14, pitching 1.1 innings against the Detroit Tigers. His 1965 season was spent mostly with the Jacksonville Suns of the International League. He would also make a cameo appearance with the Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast League. The following season was spent mostly in Vancouver but also spent 16 games with the big club, still in Kansas City. He would split 1967 between Vancouver and the Southern League’s Birmingham A’s. He would return to Vancouver in 1968, spending the entire season on Canada’s west coast. It was that season when the Major League club shifted from Kansas City to Oakland. Handrahan would spent the 1969 season back in the Midwest with the American Association’s Iowa Oaks. His last season in pro ball was 1970, splitting time between Iowa and the Toledo Mud Hens (International League). He also pitched in winter leagues in 1964 (Dominican Republic) and 1966 (Puerto Rico).
While pitching for Birmingham in 1967, Handrahan came one out away from a perfect game against Knoxville Smokies. That season, the A’s won the Dixie Series against the champions from the Texas League (Albuquerque Dodgers). In 1968, while still pitching professionally, he was the first inductee to the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring, he would scout for the Montreal Expos and still play in the Charlottetown City League.
Handrahan died in the Provincial Palliative Care Centre and the funeral will be held Saturday at the Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown.