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Monday, February 15, 2021

Hyman (Hy) Cohen, known to many as "Coach Cohen" passed away on February 4th, 2021, after reaching his 90th birthday days earlier. He died of complications due to Covid-19 at Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in Rancho Mirage, California. 

He was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1931, the son of Joseph & Bessie Cohen, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His colorful beginnings were in the baseball sandlots of Brooklyn. NY Yankees scout Paul Krichell showed up at the Polo grounds all-star sandlot game to watch 17 yr old, 6' 5" right hander Hymie Cohen strike out four batters in two innings. He told Hymie "You're going to be the next Hank Greenberg" and signed him for a $750 bonus plus $175/mth. Hy would also tell the story about his father sitting next to Babe Ruth during that game, and not knowing who he was. 

After two years with the Yankees in the minors, Hy signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1951. Playing AAA ball in Des Moines, Hy won a record 10 straight wins, going 16-6 with a 1.88 ERA. In 1952, Hy was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War, assigned to play baseball for the Army where he became teammates with Don Newcombe, Sparky Anderson and Maury Wills to name a few. Hy went 32-6 while playing for the Army. In 1954, Hy returned to the Cubs, making his major league debut the following year. Being one of 400 players in the big leagues, Hy pitched in 7 games for the Cubs. While he struck out Willie Mays twice in one game, Hy would laugh of the time he broke Stan Musial's hitting slump. Ultimately his 7.94 ERA sent him to the PCL Los Angeles Angels. 

Two months and eight dates after arriving in LA, Hy married Terry Davis, the love of his life. At their wedding were Hy's teammates of the PCL Angels, Chuck Connors, aka "the Rifleman", Steve Bilko and Gene Mauch to name a few. 

In 1956, Hy went 5-0 and then to the surprise of his teammates was traded to Memphis. In Memphis, Hy won 15 games leading the league with an ERA of 2.72. Waiting to get called back up to the big leagues, Jack Kent Cook, looking for a Jewish star for his Toronto team, bought his contract. Shortly thereafter, Hy called it quits on pro ball, but his many stories endured. 

He became a physical education teacher and baseball coach at Birmingham High School, winning two City championship baseball titles in 1966 & 1969. He continued coaching baseball, football and tennis into the 1980's. 

He was inducted into the SoCal Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Hy was also honored as an outstanding educator in ceremonies at Dodger stadium. 

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Terry; son & daughter in-law, Jeff & Cheryl, daughter Jill and grandkids Aaron, Sarah & Rachel. The family held a private funeral at Mt.Sinai memorial in Simi Valley.

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