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June 1, 1917: Hank Gowdy Enlists

Hank Gowdy was a great ball player and a great patriot.   The high point of his ball career was in the 1914 World Series where he was the most valuable player for winning the World Series for the Boston Braves.  In 1917 he was 28 years old and at his peak as a ball player.  On June 1, he turned his back on fame and fortune, enlisting in the Army, the first major leaguer to do so .  He served in the 166th regiment of the Rainbow Division in France, going through some of the worst trench fighting that American troops experience in the War.  Coming home from the War in one piece, he resumed his career with the Braves.  In 1923 he was traded to the Giants.  After he retired from ball played, he served as a coach with the Braves, the Giants and the Reds.

When the US entered World War II, Gowdy enlisted in the Army again, despite being 53.  Among other duties he served as chief athletic officer at Fort Benning.  He was the only major leaguer to serve in both world wars.  After the War he served as coach and manager for the Reds, retiring from baseball in 1948.  He passed away in 1966 at age 76.

Gowdy holds the record for unsuccessful nominations to the Baseball Hall of Fame, being on the ballot seventeen years.  It is time, past time, for this hero on and off the baseball diamond to be admitted.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

One Comment

  1. Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

    I am re-reading a book, A Yank in the fighting Sixty-Ninth” by a veteran Albert Ettinger, who also served in both world wars.

    I’m a Yankee fan, so Red Sox aren’t my favorite people. However, Ted Williams was a major Hall of Famer and served as a USMC fighter pilot both in WWII and w(as called back) for Korea.

    Williams’ was one of the greatest hitters (so-so fielder) in history. HIs hand-eye coordination showed up in his excellence at flight maneuvering and gunnery.

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