Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Sheldon Bowen


Date and Place of Birth: 1919 Harrisville, New York

Died: May 1982 Harrisville, New York

Baseball Experience: Semi-Pro
Position: Outfield
Rank: Private
Military Unit:
1st Armored Division US Army

Area Served: European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations


Sheldon M Bowen was born in Harrisville, New York in 1919. He played semi-pro baseball in the local area and was inducted into the Army on April 17, 1941 at Camp Upton, New York. In the spring of 1942 he was sent to Northern Ireland where British instructors taught the use of light and heavy anti-aircraft weapons.


Sheldon Bowen had the opportunity to pull on his baseball uniform in Northern Ireland, played centerfield for the 1st Armored Division Wildcats ball team. On July 4, 1942, the Wildcats played the 34th Infantry Division Midwest Giants in Northern Ireland’s first officially recognized baseball game of World War II. Although the Wildcats were beaten, 3-2, Bowen scored the first run of the game in the third inning.

Bowen later served with the 1st Armored in North Africa, where they set up their AA guns around important air fields and seaports. Leaving Tunisia in July 1943, he took part in the invasion of Sicily, his unit giving support to the 1st Infantry Division.

In June 1944, Bowen's unit was at Normandy, again supporting the 1st Infantry. In Normandy, they were under fire day and night for over one month. After a month's rest they were back in action, taking part in the breakthrough at St Lo. In Belgium on September 13, 1944, during the advance on Germany, Bowen was wounded during an air attack. His left arm suffered severe shrapnel and after receiving first aid from combat medics he was removed to the 1st Division Field Hospital where the shrapnel was removed. Bowen was then evacuated to England to receive treatment that included bone grafts, tendon transplants and 16 months of hospitalization.

After 57 months in service, Corporal Sheldon Bowen finally arrived home in Harrisville, New York in February 1946. He never regained full use of his left arm but continued to play baseball in Harrisville with courage and determination.


“Many, many times,” says his widow, Regina, “Sheldon spoke of playing baseball and the joy it gave him. Sports were a big part of his life. After the war he unable to excel in the game, but he always tried and gave it his best.”


Sheldon Bowen passed away in May 1982. He was 63.

Thanks to Regina Bowen for help with her late husband's biography.


Created July 15, 2006. Updated January 23, 2007.



Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.