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First West Coast batter Cimoli dies at 81

First West Coast batter Cimoli dies at 81

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First West Coast batter Cimoli dies at 81
LOS ANGELES -- Gino Cimoli, a Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger who had the first Major League at-bat on the West Coast, died Saturday of kidney and heart complications at age 81, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Cimoli, a Bay Area native and resident, hit leadoff on Opening Day 1958 for the Dodgers against the Giants at Seals Stadium. Cimoli struck out and the Dodgers lost, 8-0.

"Gino was a part of history not just as a member of both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but throughout the game of baseball because of his role in the first-ever big league game on the West Coast," the Dodgers said in a statement. "The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants picked up where it left off in New York and Gino was the fortunate one to lead off that afternoon in his hometown. He will undoubtedly be missed by all who knew him and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."

An outfielder, he played for seven Major League teams, ending with the Angels in 1965. He was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 1957.

He was traded to the Cardinals for Wally Moon in 1958 and had his best offensive season there in 1959, when he hit .279 with 55 extra-base hits and 72 RBIs. He played in two World Series, losing in 1956 with the Dodgers and winning in 1960 with the Pirates.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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