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Author of "Eight Men Out" dies of complications from pneumonia

HUDSON, N.Y. -- Eliot Asinof, an author who invited readers behind the scenes of the sports world with books including "Eight Men Out," died Tuesday at the age of 88.

The Ancramdale resident died at a hospital in Hudson of complications from pneumonia, said his son, Martin Asinof.

Asinof was best known for "Eight Men Out," his 1963 retelling of the "Black Sox" scandal in which eight members of the
Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series. He spent more than three years exhaustively researching the book, his son said.

The book was made into a 1988 movie by the same name starring John Cusack, Charlie Sheen and Christopher Lloyd.

The Manhattan native wrote more than a dozen books, included 1968's "Seven Days to Sunday," for which he spent a year traveling and living with the New York Giants football team. A novel, "Final Judgment," is due to be published later this year, his son said.

Asinof was himself a minor league ballplayer, briefly playing in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization before joining the Army and serving in World War II. Earlier this year, he completed a memoir about his wartime service, his son said.

"He was writing right up to the end," Martin Asinof said of his father.

The elder Asinof also wrote for television and film, working on Western shows "Maverick" and "Wagon Train," his son said.

During the McCarthy era, Asinof was blacklisted, and had to resort to writing under the names of other writers, his son said. Years later, after he obtained his FBI file, he told his son that he had been targeted because he once signed a petition outside of Yankee Stadium saying that black ballplayer Jackie Robinson should be allowed to play in the major leagues.

Asinof married Jocelyn Brando, the sister of actor Marlon Brando, after meeting when she was appearing on Broadway.

His parents met, Martin Asinof said, when his father was dating Rita Moreno, and the Brando siblings -- who were starring in separate productions on Broadway at the time -- joined them for dinner. Moreno and Marlon Brando left together, and the other two became smitten with each other. By 1955, they were divorced.