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Paul Hopkins, 99; former baseball player

DEEP RIVER, Conn. -- Paul Hopkins, who gave up a record-tying home run to Babe Ruth in 1927 and was the oldest former major league player, died at 99.

He died Friday after a brief illness, his son Peter said yesterday

Mr. Hopkins pitched just two seasons, joining the Washington Senators after playing for Colgate. He made his major league debut at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 29, 1927. Ruth hit his record-tying 59th homer of the season off Hopkins.

Mr. Hopkins told The Hartford Courant in 1998 he didn't know he would face Ruth when he was summoned in the fifth inning with the bases loaded.

"Then (Ruth) strolled out from the Yankee bench and walked up to the plate," he said. "I was not excited or awed."

Mr. Hopkins's last season was 1929 when he left the St. Louis Browns because of a pulled tendon, finishing his career with a 1-1 record. The right-hander returned to his native Connecticut to work at a bank.

The Baseball Hall of Fame identified Mr. Hopkins as the nation's oldest major leaguer when Ray Hayworth died in 2002.

In recent years, Mr. Hopkins threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards in 1995 and appeared on David Letterman's show.

"He seemed to get more enjoyment out of it during his later years, when he became somewhat of a minor celebrity," Peter Hopkins said.

A memorial service was scheduled for Tuesday in Deep River.

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