Bob Hornig, local baseball-outfield star, dies at 87

Bob Hornig was such a popular outfielder in 1939 that the Spokane Indians wanted him to marry his high-school sweetheart at home plate so the fans could be there.

"I suppose it would have been wonderful," said his wife of nearly 64 years, Ruth Hornig.

But at the time, she said yesterday, both of them were too shy.

Mr. Hornig, a Seattle all-city baseball player when he was at Queen Anne High School in the mid-1930s, loved baseball but was reluctant to steal the limelight, his wife said.

Mr. Hornig died May 1 in Seattle of pneumonia. He was 87.

The local baseball star played center field for the Spokane Hawks, Tacoma Tigers, Spokane Indians and the Seattle Rainiers between 1935 and 1939.

"Here comes Bobby Hornig," the fans said then. Newspapers raved that the "slim, speedy outfielder" — the "speedburner with lots of class" — was a good hitter, too.

"He picks what he likes and slugs," one reporter wrote in 1939.

Mr. Hornig gave up at least one full-ride college scholarship and a chance to be in the 1936 Olympics in order to stay near his wife.

"She was the love of his life, and they made this just strikingly handsome couple," said Mr. Hornig's son-in-law, Richard Morrison.

Ruth Hornig's family lived across the street from a baseball field on Queen Anne Hill, and when she was 16, she said she would walk her dog through the park, watching the boys play baseball and trying to "get noticed."

She did. The two dated in high school and graduated together in 1935.

He could have made it in the "big leagues," Ruth Hornig said, but "romance interfered with him, I think."

Mr. Hornig retired from baseball after he broke his leg sliding into home for the Spokane Indians in 1939. He joined the Navy, where he played baseball for the Sand Point reserve baseball team before going to the South Pacific as a picket-boat commander from 1941 to 1945. Picket boats patrol defense perimeters.

After World War II, Mr. Hornig returned to Seattle and worked at Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone as security manager. He retired in 1980.

"He was just a modest guy," said Hal Martin, who grew up with Mr. Hornig on Queen Anne Hill. Martin said Mr. Hornig stayed close to his old friends and was known as a "classy gentleman."

"Lots of times athletes, you know, get the swell head or something like that, but he wasn't like that," Ruth Hornig said.

Besides his wife and son-in-law, Mr. Hornig is survived by his daughter, Shari Morrison of Kirkland. He was preceded in death by his brother Frank and sisters Mary Hornig and Ruth Hornig-Ward.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Evergreen-Washelli Funeral Home, 11111 Aurora Avenue N. in Seattle. Burial will follow at Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park.

Emily Heffter: 425-783-0624 or