August 2, 2021

139 Ballplayers Died in Service in World War II

March 4, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

Names such as Bob Feller and Ted Williams instantly spring to mind when we think of dedication to service during the war years, but little is heard of the minor league players who also served. While the majority of big leaguers enjoyed an almost normal existence (albeit for $21 a month service pay) playing baseball for service teams as morale-building entertainment for military personnel, many lesser-known major league and minor league players were fighting for their country in Europe, the Pacific and Asia. And on the battlefields of these far off lands many left behind their hopes and dreams of playing in the major leagues.

To most sports fans, these players’ names remain as unfamiliar as their careers remain incomplete – bush leaguers who failed to make it to “The Show.” Nevertheless, their ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty should never be forgotten, as the brief careers of these athletic heroes are and always will be an integral part of the history of the national pastime.

Whilst Elmer Gedeon and Harry O’Neill might be familiar names as the two major league players who lost their lives in military service during World War II, a staggering 137 former minor leaguers died. Among them were batting champs, 20-game winners and MVPs.

You will find the names and hometowns of these players listed below and their individual biographies appear at the Baseball in Wartime website as well as in my book “Baseball’s Dead of World War II” published by McFarland. Have I included every professional baseball player who died during World War II? Probably not. There is no definitive list to go by. Organized baseball appears to have been unable to keep track of their military serving alumni, but this is certainly the most extensive list you will find.

So, how can we continue to remember these ballplaying heroes. Over the years I have worked closely with Minor League Baseball in the hope of finding a way to permanently honor these men. Until something suitable is found why don’t you leave a comment here; a message of gratitude for the sacrifice these men made for their country and for the freedom of future generations. I will ensure all these comments are included in a memorial section on the Baseball in Wartime website. Thank you.

Name and Hometown

Jerry M. Angelich, Wilmington, CA
Herman A. Bauer, East St. Louis, IL
Fred W. Beal, Cherryville, NC
Constantine G. “Gus” Bebas, Wilmette, IL
Hugh P. Bedient, Jr.,Falconer, NY
Leonard E. “Link” Berry, Bowman, SC
Keith F. Bissonnette, St. Paul, MN
W. Davis “Buddy” Blewster, Anniston, AL
Joseph S. Boren, Carterville, IL
Charles W. “Chuck” Bowers, Marion, OH
Forrest V. “Lefty” Brewer, Jacksonville, FL
Edward A. Brock, Detroit, MI
Murrill J. Brown, Huntington Beach, CA
Eldred H. “Whitey” Burch, Mount Croghan, SC
George W. Chandler, Jr., Dallas, TX
Floyd E. Christiansen, Chicago, IL
Frank J. Ciaffone, Brooklyn, NY
Ordway H. “Hal” Cisgen, Lorain, OH
Clarence W. Clayton, Middletown, OH
Lester O. “Les” Clotiaux, Nederland, TX
Eugene L. Dellinger, Jr., Bahama, NC
Howard W. DeMartini, Northvale, NJ
Harold B. “Hal” Dobson, Denver, CO
Norman J. Duncan, Mayville, MI
Louis E. Elko, Streator, IL
Charles “Chatty” Etherton, Jr.,Carbondale, IL
Charles H. “Herb” Fash, East St. Louis, IL
Frank Faudem, Detroit, MI
John H. Fessler*, Pine Grove, PA
Ernest B. Ford, Jr., Watertown, MA
Troy L. Furr, Concord, NC
Gene Gabrych, Winona, MN
George Gamble, Rochester, NY
Robert W. Gary, Jr., Beaumont, TX
Elmer J. Gedeon, Cleveland, OH
Conrad W. “Connie” Graff, New Orleans, LA
Alan S. Grant, Champaign, IL
James M. Grilk, Sacramento, CA
Robert J. Gruss, Lakewood, OH
Frank C. Haggerty, Rockville Centre, NY
William F. “Bill” Hansen, Chicago, IL
William J. “Billy” Hebert, Stockton, CA
Manuel P. “Nay” Hernandez, San Diego, CA
Robert K. Hershey, Penn Hills, PA
Roswell G. Higginbotham, Jamison, TX
Ernest J. Holbrook, Hermosa Beach, CA
Robert D. Holmes, Troy, MO
Gordon E. Houston, San Antonio, TX
Ernest Hrovatic (Hrovatich), Highlandtown, OH
Harry N. Imhoff, Jr., Baltimore, MD
Frank D. Janik, Buffalo, NY
Ardys B. “Art” Keller, Lincoln, NE
Stanley P. Klores, Milwaukee, WI
Carlyle J. “Curly” Kopp, Buffalo Center, IA
Harry B. Ladner, Jr., Philadelphia, PA
Walter E. Lake, Richmond, IN
Harlan D. Larsen, Milwaukee, WI
Felix A. Little, Catawba, NC
Walter G, “Whitey” Loos, Jr., Crafton Heights, PA
Andrew J. “Jack” Lummus, Jr., Ennis, TX
Theodore C. “Ted” Maillet, Livermore Falls, ME
Dom P. Malchiodi, Chester, CT
William A. Marzalek, Emsworth, PA
Henry “Marty” Martinez, Mount View, CA
John W. “Duck” McKee, Atlanta, GA
Paul V. A. Mellblom, Edison, NJ
George A. Meyer, Elk River, MN
Louis I. Miller, Bucoda, WA
Joseph T. Moceri, Detroit, MI
John T. “Jack” Moller, Mount Vernon, NY
Walt Navie (Walter J. Nawiesniak), Chicago, IL
Jack A. Nealy, Langdale, AL
Edward S. Neusel, St. Louis, MO
William F. “Bill” Niemeyer, Crescent Springs, KY
Henry S. “Hank” Nowak, Buffalo, NY
Harry M. O’Neill, Darby, PA
Joseph M. Palatas, Cuyahoga County, OH
Jack H. Patterson, Zanesville, OH
Metro Persoskie, Iselin, PA
Charles R. Pescod, Dumas, AR
John J. “Joe” Pinder, Jr., McKees Rock, PA
Henry R. “Bob” Price, Portland, OR
Luster Pruett, Vandalia, IL
Ernest R. Raimondi, Oakland, CA
John J. Regan, Chicago, IL
Charles J. “Pete” Rehkamp, Covington, KY
Joseph W. Rodgers, Reedsville, PA
Milton “Rosey” Rosenstein, Ellenville, NY
Herman P. Rush, Long Beach, CA
Michael L. Sambolich, Wegley, PA
Glenn F. Sanford, Clare, MI
William A. “Bill” Sarver, Kansas City, MO
Walter J. Schmisseur, Jr., Belleville, IL
Robert C. “Bob” Schmukal, Buffalo, NY
Edward N. Schohl, Chicago, IL
Franklin C. Schulz, Clarkson, NE
Carl H. “Kappy” Scott, Transfer, PA
Marcello L. “Major” Serventi, Oakland, CA
Donald R. Shelton, Webster City, IA
Harold H. Sherman, Bonne Terre, MO
Jack C. Siens Huntington, WV
Arthur H. “Art” Sinclair, Haddonfield, NJ
John M. “Mason” Smith, Fort Smith, AR
Norman K. Smith, Carnegie, GA
Marshall M. Sneed, Piggott, AR
Rodney L. Sooter, Laurel, WA
William B. “Billy” Southworth Jr., Sunbury, OH
Earl V. “Lefty” Springer, Hagerstown, MD
Gene Stack (Eugene F. Stachowiak), Saginaw, MI
Donald A. Stewart, Vancouver, BC, Canada
James E. Stewart, Hazlehurst, GA
Alvin “Bus” Stiewe, Sandusky, OH
Sylvester H. “Syl” Sturges, New York, NY
Fredric W. Swift, Norristown, PA
Johnny P. Taylor, Dallas, TX
Steve L. Tonsick, Granite City, IL
James Trimble III, Chevy Chase, MD
Edgar W. Tuttle, Maiden, NC
Wirt B. “Beecher” Twitchell, Jr., Phoenix, AZ
Lou Vann (Luigi G. Varanese), Fall River, MA
Joseph Vecchio, Utica, NY
Armando J. “Pete” Viselli, Ansonia, CT
Arthur C. Vivian, Jr., Plainfield, NJ
Elmer J. Wachtler, Omaha, NE
Leo M.H. Walker, Gulfport, MS
Roman E. “Chipper” Wantuck, Chicago, IL
James J. Whitfield, Graham, NC
Richard L. “Dick” Williams, Grand Rapids, MI
Lester R. Wirkkala, Sebeka, MN
Stanford G. Wolfson, Universal City, MO
Thomas J. Woodruff, St. Louis, MO
Alan Wray (Alan W. Lightner), Stockton, CA
Elmere P. “Elmer” Wright, Bedford, VA
Frederick J. Yeske, Canton, CT
Marion P. “Spud” Young, Madison, WI
Peter J. Zarrilla, New Castle, PA
Lamar A. “Dutch” Zimmerman, Pine Grove, PA
John J. Zulberti, Solvay, NY
George C. Zwilling, Cincinnati, OH


4 Responses to “139 Ballplayers Died in Service in World War II”
  1. Angie says:

    I just recently came across your book in looking for info on my grandfathers brother who died in combat at the Battle of the Bulge. I was so amazed to find him in your book. It was wonderful to read the few stories you had on him. Thank you so much..

  2. Bob Poet says:

    Bless ’em all!


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