Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

 

National Baseball Hall of FamerMickey Cochrane

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 6, 1903 Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Died: June 28, 1962 Lake Forest, Illinois

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Catcher
Rank: Lieutenant
Military Unit: US Navy

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Major League Stats: Mickey Cochrane on Baseball-Almanac

 

Mickey Cochrane attended Boston University but dropped out in his junior year. He broke in with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1925 as the team's starting catcher, quickly establishing himself as one of the best offensive players ever at the position.

 

In 13 major league seasons with the Athletics and Tigers, Cochrane played in five World Series and scored the run that clinched the 1935 Series. "That was my greatest day in baseball," he later said.

 

From 1934 he was the Tigers' player-manager and Elden Auker called him the greatest player-manager in the history of baseball.

 

In May 1937, Cochrane took a fastball to his right temple and collapsed in a heap. He was unconscious for ten days and never played again.

 

Cochrane joined the Navy in 1942. He was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station where he coached their formidable baseball team until 1944. On July 7, 1942, Cochrane managed an All-Service team that played against an American League all-star squad at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. Before 62,059 fans, the American League beat the servicemen, 5-0.

 

 

Tragedy struck Cochrane in 1944, his only son, Gordon Jr, was killed at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Former major league pitcher, Elden Auker, wrote in his autobiography, Sleeper Cards and Flannel Uniforms: “The bullet that killed him [Gordon, Jr] had some kind of range. It traveled all the way across the Atlantic, lodged itself into the spirit of Gordon's father, the great Mickey Cochrane, and slowly killed him. Mickey's gravestone shows he died June 28, 1962, but he started dying June 6, 1944. Consider his another life claimed by World War II.”

 

In 1945, Cochrane went to Gab Gab Beach, Guam to head the Navy’s fleet recreational center.

 

Cochrane was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947. He went on to serve as general manager of the Athletics and later became Vice President of the Tigers. He succumbed to cancer in June 1962, aged 59.

 

Great Lakes 1943
The Great Lakes team of 1943: Mickey Cochrane, inset.
Clockwise around the wheel: Earl Bolyard, Vern Olsen, Johnny Lucadello,
Johnny Mize,  Eddie Pellagrini, Joe Grace and George Dickey

 

Created April 13, 2007. Updated March 7, 2008.

 

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