Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple HeartConrad Graff

 

Date and Place of Birth: 1920 New Orleans, Louisiana
Date and Place of Death: July 8, 1944 Saint-Lô, Normandy, France
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: First Base/Outfield
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

 

Conrad Graff was a hero. A hero on the ballfield and a hero on the battlefield.

 

Connie Graff
Conrad W. “Connie” Graff was a slick-fielding first baseman with the Jesuit High School team in New Orleans, Louisiana, who withdrew from school to cash in on his playing ability. He began his minor league career with the Waycross Bears of the Class D Georgia-Florida League in 1939, but was released shortly afterwards. The following year he caught on as a first baseman with the Gastonia Cardinals of the Class D Tar Heel League, where fellow New Orleanian Lloyd DiBartolo also played. Batting in the number two spot and utilizing his speed and power for manager Milt Bocek, Graff hit .274 with 45 RBIs in 109 games, and had back-to-back three-hit games in mid–August.

In 1941, he joined the Cooleemee Cards of the Class D North Carolina State League and played much of the season in the outfield. Appearing in all 101 games for the basement-dwelling Cards, Graff batted .308, finished second in the league with 133 base hits and was among the circuit leaders with 20 stolen bases. He was assigned to the Columbus Red Birds of the Class B South Atlantic League for the 1942 season, but military service intervened and he was inducted at Camp Livingston, Louisiana.

Staff Sergeant Graff served with the U.S. Army in Europe, and was killed in action on July 8, 1944, during the struggle for Saint-Lô, in Normandy, France. In 1948, at the request of his family and widow, Cecile, Conrad Graff ’s body was returned to New Orleans. Services were held at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, and he was laid to rest at Greenwood Cemetery. His sacrifice was recognized by hometown service veterans who chartered a VFW post in his name: Connie W. Graff Post 7322.

Year

Team

League

Class

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

1939

Waycross

Georgia-Florida

D

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1940

Gastonia

Tar Heel

D

109

467

95

128

22

7

1

45

.274

1941

Cooleemee

N. Carolina State

D

101

432

74

133

19

1

2

29

.308

 

Thanks to the Louisiana Division of the New Orleans Public Library; Jane McAllister, Assistant Reference Librarian at Davie County Public Library in Mocksville, NC; and the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles for help with this biography.

 

Minor League Baseball

Added August 13, 2006. Updated February 28, 2011.

 

Copyright © 2011 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.