Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

Click Here to Review Jack Knott's Stats on Baseball Almanac
“Where what happened yesterday is being preserved today.”

Click here for details

Purple HeartJack Knott


Date and Place of Birth: March 2, 1907 Dallas, Texas

Died: October 13, 1981 Brownwood, Texas

Baseball Experience: Major League
First Lieutenant
Military Unit:
Headquarters Company, 104th Infantry Division US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Jack Knott

John “Jack” Knott was born on March 2, 1907 in Dallas, Texas. He attended Southern Methodist University and signed with Corsicana of the Texas League in 1926. He was 13-8 with Palestine of the Lone Star League in 1928 and hurled for Mission of the Pacific Coast League the following two years.

Knott joined Milwaukee of the American Association in 1931. He was 11-9 that year and 17-12 in 1932, prompting his sale to the St Louis Browns. The 26-year-old right-hander made his debut with the Browns on April 13, 1933. He was 1-8 for the last-placed team but was 10-3 in 1934 as the Browns climbed to sixth place.

Knott was traded to the White Sox in June 1938 and joined the Philadelphia Athletics in 1941. He was 2-10 for the basement-dwelling Athletics in 1942 before entering military service on November 24 of that year.

Knott served with the Army at Camp Wolters Reception Center in Texas, before being assigned to Camp Adair, Oregon as an acting first sergeant with the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division. During the summer of 1943, Knott had plenty of opportunity to play baseball with the 104th Timberwolves team. Home games were played at George Waters Field, formerly home of Salem in Western International League, and much of the equipment they used was made available by Mrs George Waters, owner of the Salem club. The Timberwolves won the Oregon state semipro and Pacific Northwest servicemen's titles that year.

In April 1944, Knott was first sergeant with Headquarters Company of the 104th Division at Camp Carson, Colorado. The division was shipped to Europe later in the year and landed in France on September 7, 1944. The 104th's first combat experience occurred during the latter part of the Battle of the Scheldt – an operation in northern Belgium aimed at opening the port of Antwerp to Allied shipping. On November 6, 1944, the 104th began moving by motor convoy towards Aachen, Germany and participated in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.

Lieutenant Jack Knott
Jack Knott shortly after receiving his battlefield promotion to second lieutenant

On January 8, 1945, he received a battlefield commission, when he was promoted to second lieutenant. Two days later he was wounded and was awarded the Purple Heart.

As the German offensive in the Ardennes wound down, the division moved across the Roer River. On March 5, it entered Cologne after heavy fighting, and crossed the Rhine at Honnef on March 22, 1945. Knott earned a further promotion during this time, being made a first lieutenant.

After liberating the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen on April 11, the division met up with the Russian Army at Pretzsch on April 26, where they remained until the German surrender on May 7.

The 104th Infantry Division left Europe for the United States on June 27, 1945, and by July he was at home on leave with his wife in Brownwood, Texas. On August 3, 1945, Knott was at San Luis Obispo, California, where he talked of hoping to get a coaching job or minor league manager’s job after service. He was discharged from the Army at Fort Ord, California on November 19, 1945.

Jack Knott was 39 years old when he returned to the Athletics in the spring of 1946. He made three appearances for the team before being released on May 18. He briefly played for Jersey City of the International League before retiring from the game.

In December 1946, Knott became the Southwest scout for the Cincinnati Reds. He was hired by Richard W Burnett, owner of the Dallas Rebels, in July 1948, as a personal contact man and scout. He later worked as a baseball school instructor and minor league business manager.

Jack Knott passed away on October 13, 1981 in Brownwood, Texas. He was 74 years old and is buried at Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood.

Created February 15, 2008.

Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.