Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

Purple HeartBob Hershey

 

Date and Place of Birth: circa 1915 Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania
Date and Place of Death: July 31, 1943 nr. Trinidad
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: First Base
Rank: Lieutenant (jg)
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: Caribbean

 

Robert K. Hershey was born in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, and grew up in nearby Penn Hills. He attended Union High School, where he played three years of baseball and football, and was co-captain of the football team his senior year. Following graduation, he enrolled at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and played freshman football.

 

Bob Hershey - Union High School Baseball Team

Union High School Baseball Team

Bob Hershey is middle row, sixth from left


In 1938, Hershey signed with the Cleveland Indians’ organization and the left-handed hitting first baseman batted .343 in 108 games with 18 home runs and 108 RBIs his rookie season with the Logan Indians of the Class D Mountain State League.

 

During the off-season he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh and was the standout baseball player at the school although he was unable to play for Ralph Mitterling's Panther squad because of his previous professional experience.

 

In 1939, Hershey was back in pro baseball and hit .308 with 28 doubles and 14 home runs for the Springfield Indians of the Class C Middle Atlantic League, and progressed to Class B baseball with the Cedar Rapids Raiders of the Three-I League in 1940. Hershey continued to hit well and in 126 games with the Raiders he batted .318 with 15 home runs. He also hit 30 doubles and nine triples, and his 99 RBIs was third best in the league, helping the Raiders to the league championship.

In 1941, a season in which the Three-I League was dominated by a young left-handed pitcher named Warren Spahn, Hershey batted .313 in 120 games with 11 home runs and a circuit second-best 100 RBIs as the Raiders clinched their second successive league championship.

Hershey, who had a minor league career average of .320 over four seasons and had a chance of becoming Cleveland’s next first baseman, enlisted in the Navy in September 1941. He trained as an aviation cadet at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and received his wings in August 1942.

As a lieutenant junior grade, he served in the Caribbean on a patrol bomber, and on July 31, 1943, Bob Hershey was killed when his bomber crashed.

 

Year

Team

League

Class

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

1938

Logan

Mountain State

D

108

405

85

139

29

10

18

108

.343

1939

Springfield

Mid-Atlantic

C

124

439

77

135

30

5

14

85

.308

1940

Cedar Rapids

Three-I

B

126

469

89

149

30

9

15

99

.318

1941

Cedar Rapids

Three-I

B

120

448

93

140

25

10

11

100

.313

 

Minor League BaseballAdded October 23, 2006. Updated March 1, 2011.

 

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