He received a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Buffalo (now the University at Buffalo), but it didn’t have a baseball team. He worked at the Curtiss-Wright aircraft plant in Buffalo and starred for semipro baseball teams, catching the attention of a Dodger scout. He received a $5,000 bonus for signing with Brooklyn and made his debut against the Cincinnati Reds on May 20, 1944.
Basinski’s Dodger teammates, whose acquaintance with the musical world may have been limited to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” ribbed him for his violin skills.
Soon after his arrival at Ebbets Field, Basinski was in the Dodger clubhouse, in uniform, playing Strauss waltzes, when Manager Leo Durocher, who was evidently skeptical about reports that Basinski was a professional violinist, walked in.
“He stopped and looked at me and said, ‘Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch,’” Basinski said in a 2011 interview with The New York Times.
“While he was shaving, I was right next to him, giving it to him with my violin,” Basinski said.
Basinski had a .244 career major league batting average.
After leaving baseball, he worked as an account manager at Consolidated Freightways of Portland for 31 years.
In addition to his son Dave, Basinski is survived by two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Another son, Jeff, died in 2011.