Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

Click here for details

Tommy Bridges

 

Date and Place of Birth: December 28, 1906 Gordonsville, Tennessee

Died: April 19, 1968 Nashville, Tennessee

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position:
Pitcher
Rank:
Sergeant
Military Unit:
US Army

Area Served: United States

Major League Stats: Tommy Bridges on Baseball-Almanac

Tommy BridgesThomas J D “Tommy” Bridges was born on December 28, 1906 in Gordonsville, Tennessee. He was a 1929 graduate of the University of Tennessee, and played only briefly in the minors for Wheeling of the Mid-Atlantic League and Evansville of the Three-I League before joining the Detroit Tigers in August 1930. 

Within a couple of seasons, Bridges had established himself as a dominant member of the Tigers’ starting rotation. Until entering military service following the 1943 season, he won 20 games or more three times, was a six-time all-star, and won the deciding game of the 1935 World Series against the Cubs. On August 5, 1932, he came within one out of a perfect game against the Washington Senators, before Dave Harris hit a pinch-hit single.

When Bridges joined the Army on November 20, 1943, he had won 192 games for the Tigers. He was assigned to Camp Crowder, Missouri, where he expanded the baseball program from company and battalion teams to a full-fledged post squad. A new ball diamond was built near the hospital for 1944, offering entertainment to convalescing troops, and players on hand that year included Maurice Van Robays and Al Wehr.

In December 1944, Sergeant Bridges – who was 37 at the time - told The Sporting News that he felt time would be a very decisive factor in determining whether athletes in service would be able to make a comeback after the war. "Big time athletes have a chance to come back after the war - with a big 'if'," declared the veteran. “The younger ones can make the grade again, no matter what sport, and some of the older ones may get in a season or two if not retained in the service too long.

“The topflight performer never loses the 'feel' of his game, it is age that keeps gaining on him, not competition. All the angles of performing the easy way, a thorough knowledge of the game, and knowing the tricks of the trade add up to the all-important quality called experience. 

"This asset alone has kept many an athlete in the game when many, ignorant of sports, wonder why he wasn't finished long ago. You can't buy experience and it often outweighs mere youth."

Bridges completed his military service at Fort George C Meade, Maryland, and was discharged on Aug 26, 1945. He returned to the Tigers and made four appearances, adding another win to his career total. In 1946, he made nine, mainly relief, appearances for the Tigers before being released in September. He joined Portland of the Pacific Coast League in 1947 and enjoyed three successful seasons including 1948, when he was 15-11 with a 2.86 ERA. Bridges ended his playing days in 1950 with the Seattle Rainiers at the age of 43.

Bridges coached at Toledo for a while and then quit the game for good except for some scouting and teaching assignments for the Tigers. He worked as a sales representative for a tire firm in later years and settled in Lakeland, Florida.

Tommy Bridges, suffering from cancer, passed away on April 19, 1968 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 61.

Created February 14, 2008.

Copyright © 2015 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.