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Date and Place of Birth:
August 26, 1925 Jamestown, New
April 11, 2007 Anderson,
6th Marine Division
Pacific Theater of Operations
William A “Bill” Kinney,
the son of Marcus Charles Kinney and Florence Marie Mowers Kinney, was born on August 26, 1925 in Jamestown, New
. A love of sports had developed when,
as a youngster, his father used to tell him to "put the book down,
and go outside and play!"
As a young pitcher, Kinney played for the local
Merchants team and even served as their player-manager at the age of
17. Also on that team was Charles Goodell – future Republican
Senator. The following year he stepped up to the Newberry Insurance
team in the MUNY Class A Baseball League, where he posted a record
of four wins in seven games against players much older and more
Kinney was in his senior year in high school when
he volunteered for service with the Marine Corps and left for boot
camp at Parris Island, South Carolina
on March 18, 1944. He
was also able to limber up his pitching arm once more and hurled for
the Sixth Marine Division All-Star baseball team with future
Dodgers’ star, Gil Hodges, as his catcher. Corporal Kinney
later served as
reconnaissance spotter during the Battle of Okinawa between April
and June 1945, and with the fighting over and the island secure,
Kinney worked airstrip security as an MP.
Kinney was 20 years old when he was
discharged from the
Marines on March 4, 1946 at Bainbridge, Maryland,
and immediately set about pursuing a career in professional
baseball. Gil Hodges had wanted him to join the Dodgers’
organization but Kinney was an avid Yankees’ fan and wouldn’t hear
of it. Instead, he signed with the Thomasville Tigers, a
affiliate in the Georgia-Florida League managed by former Phillies’
second baseman Moon Mullen.
had a lacklustre season, finishing 42-and-a-half games out of first
place. Kinney made 11 appearances and hurled 67 innings for a 3-4
won-lost record and 5.10 earned run average. Struck in the knee by a
batted ball mid-season, Kinney over compensated for the injury which
subsequently damaged his pitching arm.
was picked up by the Braves organization in 1947, and attended
spring training at Leesburg, Florida,
but was subsequently released and hooked up with the Lamesa Lobos,
an independent team in the West Texas-New Mexico League. Playing in
a region where heat, dust and wind are your ever-present summertime
companions, this Class D league has been described as a hitter’s
paradise, but for pitcher’s it was the lowest rung of sheer hell.
The Lobos were led by player-manager George Sturdivant, whose .404
batting average was unbelievably only
fourth highest in the
league and whose 175 RBIs was barely good enough for third place!
Trying to beat the odds and with an arm that hadn’t fully recovered
from last season’s injury, Kinney soon called it a day and returned
home to Jamestown, New York, leaving behind his dreams of a long
career in professional baseball.
He began working as a patrolman on the Erie
Railroad and married Beverly Fenescey on July 10, 1948. Their
daughter, Deborah, was born shortly afterwards. Bill and Beverly
divorced in 1953 and he married Violette Smith the following year.
They had two children, William and Nathan.
40 years service, Kinney retired as Police Captain for Amtrak of New
York in 1987. Multiple awards and commendations received during his
career with the railroad included an Appreciation Award by the
Fraternal Order of Police.
and Violette retired to Anderson,
South Carolina, where he was an active member of Trinity United
Church. Bill Kinney, a Yankees fan all
his life, an avid bowler, and described as a man of immense
character and integrity yet very humble, passed away on April 11,
2007 in Anderson.
“He wanted us to put a ball game on,” explains his daughter,
Deborah. “Well, there wasn't one scheduled … so we searched and
found a vintage game on the satellite for him to listen to … and he
was satisfied. He died the next morning at 7am.”
Kinney was 81 years old and rests at
Thanks to Deborah Kinney
Soltis for help with her father’s biography and for supplying the
photos. Thanks also to Steve Treder for help with information about
the West Texas-New Mexico League.
Created December 11, 2007.
Copyright © 2007 Gary
Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.