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Veteran of Negro Leagues dies at 111

Oct. 31, 2006 at 5:46 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Silas Simmons, the oldest surviving professional baseball player, has died in Florida two weeks after his 111th birthday.

Simmons, who played for several teams in the Negro Leagues, between 1912 and 1929, became a national figure this year when the Center for Negro League Baseball Research discovered him. About 300 people attended a birthday party at the retirement home where he lived, the New York Times said.

He died quietly Sunday at the Westminster Suncoast home in St. Petersburg.

A native of Philadelphia, Simmons began playing with the Germantown Blue Ribbons. His other teams included the New York Lincoln Giants.

Lewis Clowers and his wife, Mary, a couple who took care of Simmons for many years, said they visited him Saturday.

"He said, 'My life has been fulfilled,'" Mary Clowers told the Miami Herald. 'I'm tired and I'm ready to go.' "

Mary Clowers said that she insisted that Simmons attend his party even though his doctor wanted to hospitalize him.

"Some people might say that party was a chance for him to reach peace with his history," said the Rev. Robin Whitlock, rector of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, where Simmons was a longtime member.

His funeral is to be held there Saturday.

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