October 25, 2014

Mickey Grasso’s Wartime Journal

August 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A 150-page journal that was kept by big leaguer catcher Mickey Grasso while he was a prisoner of the Germans in World War II, has just been discovered in Miami. Now the owner wants to reunite the book with Mickey’s surviving family.

On February 14, 1943, Mickey Grasso, a young catcher with the Interstate League’s Trenton Senators, was among 6,000 American troops taken prisoner by the German Afrika Korps in Tunisia, North Africa.

Mickey had played only one season in the minors before entering military service in January 1942. He would spend two years as a prisoner-of-war in Germany and not return to the United States until the summer of 1945.

Mickey went on to enjoy a career in professional baseball that lasted until the late 1950s. He enjoyed stints with the Giants, Senators and Indians and played over 300 games at the major league level.

Mickey passed away in Miami, Florida in October 1975, at the age of only 55. He had talked about his time as a POW and amazingly, a few photographs have survived showing him playing ball at Stalag IIIB. But now a dusty old book has emerged that chronicles Grasso’s time in prison camp. A book he wrote and compiled himself between 1943 and 1945.

Earlier this month I received an email from Elaine DeCario in Miami, Florida, who made the amazing discovery. “Recently, while going through some of my Dad’s belongings, I came across a journal that belongs to Mr. Grasso,” Elaine explained. “It’s a wonderful book filled with pictures, baseball tidbits and memories of his wartime experiences.”

Elaine’s dad, Leonard F. Amico, who was stationed in Germany during World War II, with the Army Ordnance, served as Director of Veteran Services for Dade County for fifteen years. He and Mickey obviously came into contact at some point and Mickey must have entrusted Leonard with the journal.

“Dad passed away on July 12, 1997,” explains Elaine. “It wasn’t till recently that I started going through his things and discovered this book.

“Dad was very active in many societies and veterans groups. I don’t know exactly how he came into possession of this book. I do know he must have found it very special for he saved it all these years.”

The book, entitled “A Wartime Log” and belonging to Newton “Mickey” Grasso of 435 South 14th Street, Newark, New Jersey, is 7 inches wide, 9 ½ inches tall and 1 ½ inches thick. It has an olive green cover and about 150 pages.

Elaine has decided that the book should be returned to Mickey’s surviving family. “I am sure they would like to have this,” she says.

If anyone can help us get in touch with Mickey Grasso’s family they can contact me at gary@baseballinwartime.com and I will happily put them in touch with Elaine.

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