Albie Pearson: Marilyn’s Dodger Stadium ‘Angel’ Dies at 88

Albie Pearson, the baseball star who joined Marilyn during her final public appearance, has died aged 88, the Los Angeles Times reports.

He was born Albert Gregory Pearson in Alhambra, California in 1934, named after college football star Albie Booth. Pearson was born with spina bifida, and weighed just 100 pounds in the 9th grade. Nonetheless, he became an athletic star at high school, excelling in football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track and field.

While in his first semester at college, a psychology professor noted he seemed more interested in sports than studying. He dropped out in 1953, and was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a freelance amateur player. In 1955 he married high school sweetheart Helen, and they raised five daughters together.

Albie played in numerous minor league teams over the next few years, and was named Rookie of the Year by the American League in 1958. In 1961, he joined the original line-up of the Los Angeles Angels, and was nicknamed the ‘Littlest Angel’ due to his short stature (he was 5 ft. 5″ in height.) “I was the guy-who-never-made-it’s hero,” he recalled. “The blue-collar guy who made a couple hundred bucks a week would always root for me.”

On June 1st, 1962, the Angels played a charity game at Dodger Stadium, with Marilyn Monroe briefly joining them on the pitch to ask the crowd for donations to treat muscular dystrophy. It was her 36th birthday, and a turning point in more ways than one.

After catching a chill that evening, Marilyn called in sick to Twentieth Century-Fox the next morning. This was just the latest of her numerous absences, and she would be fired from Something’s Got to Give within days. Though no-one could have predicted it, Marilyn would never make another public appearance, dying from an overdose just two months later.

In a 2012 interview with the San Bernardino Sun, Albie remembered their only encounter with deep sadness.

“In the summer of 1962 there was some sort of charity function at the stadium and I’m selected to escort a celebrity to home plate for a pre-game presentation. So I go out to the dugout and they tell me the person I’m going to walk to home plate is Marilyn Monroe.

Now I am nervous. So I ask, `Where is she?’ And it turned out she was standing over in the far corner of the dugout, completely in the shadows. And she’s pale and shaking and I’m thinking this can’t be Marilyn Monroe, the famous movie star.

Anyway, we’re called out to home plate and I thought I would have to drag her out of that corner. But once she hit that top step of the dugout she became Marilyn Monroe the movie star, smiling and waving. I was simply amazed at the transformation.

Well, we finish the presentation and I walk her back. Now, this whole time I never said a word to her and she never spoke to me. Once we’re back in the dugout, she turns back into this shy, withdrawn person.

And the strangest thing, all this time I have these Bible verses running through my mind. Marilyn Monroe and Bible verses. Talk about God working in mysterious ways.

As she’s leaving, she suddenly turns to me. And she says, `What is it you are trying to tell me?’ And I was just absolutely speechless. She looked so lost and lonely and I felt I needed to say something, but what do you say to Marilyn Monroe?

It was a haunting experience, but I went on and played that game. We finished the homestand and went on the road and, I think this was in New York, I go down to the lobby to get a morning paper and there’s the headline `Marilyn Monroe Commits Suicide.’

And I knew right then that God had plans for my life, bigger plans than just being a ballplayer. I didn’t save Marilyn but I could save others. I had to save others. So I prayed and turned my life over to God.”

Albie’s baseball career ended in 1966, when he incurred two slipped discs during training. A devout Baptist, he taught Sunday school and set up a charitable foundation in Riverside, CA, helping young people to stay off drugs. In 1972, he became an ordained minister. Seven years later, he founded United Ministries International with Helen, providing training to pastors and setting up churches and orphanages in Ecuador and Zambia.

During the 1980s, he served as a pastor in Texas. Then in 1997, he and Helen sold their home to found Father’s Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, California, a home for abused, neglected and abandoned 6- to 12-year-old boys. “We saw a tremendous need with these little guys,” he said. “We teach them that they’re not a piece of meat, that they were created and there’s a plan for every one of them. They respond to love.” In 2004, he and Helen founded the Desert Christian Community Church in Thousand Palms, California.

Albie Pearson died in La Quinta, Riverside County, CA, on February 21, 2023.