1944: Elmer Gedeon

May 28, 2012

Because it is Memorial Day, I am reposting this blurb on Elmer Gedeon that I originally published in April 2008.

April 20, 1944

Elmer Gedeon was part of an athletic family from the beginning. His uncle Joe was a major league ballplayer who made a little history of his own by being the only player banned as a result of the Black Sox scandal that wasn’t actually a member of the team that threw the games.

Elmer followed in his uncle’s athletic footsteps, however, and became a multi-sport athlete at the University of Michigan. He lettered in three different sports, but his best was probably track and field, in which he was a two-time Big Ten Champion, helping his team to earn multiple National Championships. Elmer also played football and baseball in college.

Upon graduation in 1939, Gedeon signed with the Washington Nationals. After spending the first part of that season in the minors, he was called up in mid-September and appeared in five games for Washington. He spent the 1940 season playing in Charlotte, and though he received another September call to Washington he did not appear in any games. Gedeon was set to return to spring training in 1941, but was drafted to the military in January of that year instead.

Gedeon joined the Air Force and ended up flying missions as a captain in France. Gary Bedingfield chronicled the events of April 20 at Baseballlibrary.com:

On April 20, Gedeon piloted one of 30 B-26 Marauders that left Boreham to attack construction works at Bois de Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak over France, and co-pilot Lieutenant James Taaffe, who had been sitting alongside Gedeon when the airplane was hit, was the only crew member able to escape as the bomber plunged to the earth, carrying Gedeon and five others. He is buried at St Pol, France.

Gedeon was listed as MIA for more than a year. Finally, in May of 1945, his father received confirmation of Elmer’s death from a commanding officer who explained that his burial site had been located.

Gedeon was one of two major league players who were killed in action during World War II. The other was Harry O’Neill of the Philadelphia Athletics, who was killed at Iwo Jima in March 1945.

Baseball Reference page

Another Bio


Baseball In DC During WWII

November 11, 2010

Mark Hornbaker at Nationals Daily News posted some stories shared by George Case III (son of George Case, Jr. who played for the Nats from 1937-1945). It is well worth a read.

One of the stories is about Buddy Lewis:

Buddy Lewis, “flew the Hump” in a DC 3 during the war – my dad related an interesting story about Buddy – in 1943, Buddy stopped by Griffith Stadium to say “good-bye” to his Washington teammates – he told them that he had to take his plane out of Andrews but to look for him – my dad was in the on deck circle and there was Buddy Lewis in a DC3 coming in low and fast over Griffith Stadium dipping his wings and my dad threw his bat in the air as his way of saying “we know it’s you Buddy – be safe.”


1941: “Senators Lose a Game They Had Already Won”

August 16, 2010

….so read the headline in The Sporting News.

Friday August 15, 1941

The Nats were ahead 6-3 in the eighth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Griffith Stadium when the umpires called a halt due to rain. After a 40-minute delay, the game was called – under league rules a victory for the home team.

Boston manager Joe Cronin noticed that the Washington grounds crew did not cover the field during the rain delay. Had the rain stopped, he said, the game would not have been able to continue due to the sloppy condition of the field. He claimed that Washington had an interest in letting the field get soaked and protested the game to the league.

On August 28, AL President Will Harridge ruled the game a forfeit. In effect, Washington lost a game in the standings without even playing. Clark Griffith complained, but ultimately the game is still in the record book as a 3-0 win for Boston, with no wins or losses assigned to pitchers.


1948: Satch’s First Major League Start

August 2, 2010

Tuesday August 3, 1948

The (probably) 42-year-old star of the Negro Leagues became a very old major league rookie with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He made eight appearances for the Indians in the month of July, and made such a good accounting for himself that he got his first major league start against the Nationals on August 3, in the thick of a rare pennant race for Cleveland.

A crowd of 72,434 turned out for the game, which at the time was the largest crowd for a night game ever in the city of Cleveland. The Nats scored a couple of runs early, but Paige was able to hang in. His team finally scored him some runs in the middle innings, and when Old Satch was lifted for a pinch-hitter after seven innings of work he had allowed three runs on seven hits – though four of those hits were described as “bleeders” by The Sporting News. The Indians went on to win the game 5-3, and Paige earned his second major league victory.


1941: A Triple Steal Defeats Hudson in the 13th

June 23, 2010

Wednesday June 25, 1941

Nat’s hurler Sid Hudson did just about everything a pitcher could be asked to do. He held the opposition scoreless for 12 innings. Unfortunately for the home team, Johnny Rigney of the White Sox did the same.

Hudson had allowed only three hits prior to the 13th inning, but a single and a double put runners at second and third with one out. The situation immediately became the best scoring threat of the game for the Sox.

After the intentional walk to load the bases, Hudson threw an unintentional walk to Luke Appling and the White Sox pushed home the first run of the game.

With the bases loaded, the White Sox executed a triple steal. Joe Kuhel – whose double had really started the scoring threat, scored on the front end, with Wright taking third and Appling taking second.

Hudson retired the next two batters to escape with no further damage done, but Rigney was too good, pitching his 13th shutout inning to lead his team to victory.


1944: Baseball’s First Casualty of World War II

May 31, 2010

Because it is Memorial Day, I am reposting this blurb on Elmer Gedeon that I originally published in April 2008.

April 20, 1944

Elmer Gedeon was part of an athletic family from the beginning. His uncle Joe was a major league ballplayer who made a little history of his own by being the only player banned as a result of the Black Sox scandal that wasn’t actually a member of the team that threw the games.

Elmer followed in his uncle’s athletic footsteps, however, and became a multi-sport athlete at the University of Michigan. He lettered in three different sports, but his best was probably track and field, in which he was a two-time Big Ten Champion, helping his team to earn multiple National Championships. Elmer also played football and baseball in college.

Upon graduation in 1939, Gedeon signed with the Washington Nationals. After spending the first part of that season in the minors, he was called up in mid-September and appeared in five games for Washington. He spent the 1940 season playing in Charlotte, and though he received another September call to Washington he did not appear in any games. Gedeon was set to return to spring training in 1941, but was drafted to the military in January of that year instead.

Gedeon joined the Air Force and ended up flying missions as a captain in France. Gary Bedingfield chronicled the events of April 20 at Baseballlibrary.com:

On April 20, Gedeon piloted one of 30 B-26 Marauders that left Boreham to attack construction works at Bois de Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak over France, and co-pilot Lieutenant James Taaffe, who had been sitting alongside Gedeon when the airplane was hit, was the only crew member able to escape as the bomber plunged to the earth, carrying Gedeon and five others. He is buried at St Pol, France.

Gedeon was listed as MIA for more than a year. Finally, in May of 1945, his father received confirmation of Elmer’s death from a commanding officer who explained that his burial site had been located.

Gedeon was one of two major league players who were killed in action during World War II. The other was Harry O’Neill of the Philadelphia Athletics, who was killed at Iwo Jima in March 1945.


1950: Griffith Moves the Fences Back

May 5, 2010

Sunday May 7, 1950

Griffith Stadium had always played as a pitcher’s park. Clark Griffith, in hopes that some new acquisitions might supply his team with some more power- something the Nats had historically lacked, had temporary bleachers installed in the outfield of Griffith Stadium. The bleachers covered left and left-center field and made home run distances an average of 19 feet closer to home plate. Perhaps as important, the addition allowed 854 more paying customers into the ballpark.

The temporary seats didn’t quite work out as planned. First, not a single person occupied the seats in their first ten games of existence. This couldn’t have been surprising to Griffith, who had been having trouble selling tickets for a long time in Washington. What was likely more disturbing to Griffith and the Nats’ office was the way the opposition was taking advantage of the shorter porch in left field. The Sporting News reported that, of the nine home runs hit into the temporary seats,  eight had been hit by the opposition, meaning that essentially Griffith’s new dimensions were helping the Nats to lose. The final straw might have been Gil Coan’s grand slam on May 7 that helped the Indians to a 10-5 win.

Griffith got rid of the temporary stands by the next day.


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