Outdoor Garden Mausoleum, Crypt 11, Tier 2
Bill Branzel was an Oakland native who attended Fremont High School. He left school when he was 16 years old to play baseball for the Mission Club of the Pacific Coast League in San Francisco.
In 1931, at the age of 20, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and beat out full-time catcher Fred Hoffman for the starting job. In 1934, he was purchased by the Cleveland Indians from Kansas City and eventually became the first string catcher when Frankie Pytlak left because of illness. He ended up playing two seasons for Cleveland before retiring.
Known for his quick wit and slow feet, he made it to the majors based on his defensive skills, not his offensive prowess. He only hit .198 in his three major league seasons.
After his career ended he managed in the minor leagues before becoming a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of his major recruits was Earl Robinson, the two sport star of the California Golden Bears. Robinson ended up signing a $75,000 bonus with the Dodgers, a record at the time for a black player.
His son Gary also played baseball in college and the minor leagues.