Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple HeartBill Hansen

 

Date and Place of Birth: 1921 Chicago, Illinois
Date and Place of Death: January 1945 Belgium
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: Third Army US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

 

Bill Hansen of Chicago's West SideWilliam F. Hansen - a native of Chicago's West side - signed with the Greenville Lions of the Class D Alabama State League in 1941, and was batting .339 with seven home runs in 55 games with the lastplace club, when he was assigned to the Fort Pierce Bombers of the Class D Florida East Coast League. The Bombers were vying for a position in the league playoffs and Hansen, an outfielder, batted .276 in 53 games to help them finish in third place. Unfortunately, the Bombers were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Beach Flamingos.

In 1942, Hansen batted an eye-catching .393 after 16 games with the Bombers, and joined the Statesville Owls of the Class D North Carolina State League. His stay there, however, was short-lived and he spent the majority of the season with the Green Bay Bluejays of the Class D Wisconsin State League. Hansen batted .310 in 88 games and led the team with 72 walks and 17 stolen bases. The Bluejays finished just one-half game behind the pennant-winning Sheboygan Indians, and beat the Appleton Papermakers, three games to two, in the first round of the playoffs, before being defeated by Sheboygan in the finals.

Hansen’s contract was purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers of the Class AA American Association at the end of the season, and a bright future seemed to be ahead for the 22-year-old, but he was inducted into the Army on September 3, 1942. Sergeant Hansen served with General Patton's Army in Europe. In January 1945, having been overseas for just one month, he died of wounds received in combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

In 1948, Hansen's body was returned to Chicago. Following services at the Moeller and Halleman Chapel he was buried at the Waldheim Cemetery.

 

Year

Team

League

Class

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

1941

Greenville

Alabama State

D

55

254

51

86

16

3

7

58

.339

1941

Fort Pierce

Florida E. Coast

D

53

196

28

54

7

4

1

24

.276

1942

Fort Pierce

Florida E. Coast

D

16

61

14

24

3

2

0

10

.393

1942

Statesville

N. Carolina State

D

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1942

Green Bay

Wisconsin State

D

88

319

90

99

30

7

7

57

.310

 

Minor League BaseballThanks to Davis O. Barker for help with this biography.

 

Added September 19, 2006. Updated February 28, 2011.

 

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