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Date and Place of Birth: December 15, 1917 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: March 8, 1985 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Military Unit: USAAF
Area Served: United States
Nothe enlisted for military service on January 21, 1941. He served with the Army Air Force at Randolph Field and pitched for ex-White Sox outfielder, Bib Falk, who was manager of the Randolph Field Ramblers who played in the San Antonio Service League in 1943.
On May 16, 1943, Nothe pitched a one-hitter against Stinson Field but lost the game 1-0. Four days later he pitched a 5-0 no-hitter against Camp Normoyle. On June 7, he was selected for the league all-star team that played against Birdie Tebbett’s Waco Field Flyers. Before a crowd of 4,000 at San Antonio’s Tech Field, Nothe allowed one run and two hits over three innings in helping the all-stars to a 6-5 win.
Randolph Field won 58, lost 19 and tied one during 1943. Nothe was 16 and 6. The Ramblers won the San Antonio Service League by eight and a half games but lost in the playoffs.
Back with Randolph Field in 1944, the Ramblers made it to the playoffs and faced Kelly Field in a best-of-three series. Boo Ferris won the first game for the Ramblers and Nothe started the second game, losing 3-1. Ferris came back to win game three and send the Ramblers to the finals for the second straight year.
They faced the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center in the best-of-five finals. Nothe was used in relief in the first game as the Ramblers were beaten 5-3. In game two Boo Ferriss was beaten 7-5. In the third game Nothe went the distance but was beaten 4-2.
Nothe was discharged from military service at the end of 1945 and went to spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a favorite of manager Leo Durocher and although he did not make a major league appearance he remained with the Dodgers until optioned to the St Paul Saints on May 2.
Nothe pitched well for the Saints in the American Association. Despite finishing the year with a record of 3-11 he struck out 134. On July 10, 1946, Leo Durocher made a flying visit to St Paul to watch Nothe pitch against Louisville. Although Nothe was beaten by the Colonels, Durocher referred to Nothe “as good as any man on the Brooklyn staff.”
On September 2, 1946, Nothe was recalled by the Dodgers and spent the last four weeks of the season with the big league team although he did not make an appearance.
Nothe continued to fine-tune his skills by playing winter ball during 1946-47 in Cuba with Cienfuegos. The plan, however, backfired. In February 1947 he was suspended from playing in organized baseball by National Association president George Trautman. It was not until August that Nothe was able to rejoin the Dodgers' organization and he spent the remainder of the season with the Montreal Royals in the International League.
Nothe was back with the Royals in 1948. On June 20, Durocher was again on hand to see him make a relief appearance, blanking Newark for three and one-third innings. “Nothe showed me more stuff than I’ve seen in Brooklyn in a week.”
But Durocher didn't last the season with the Dodgers. On July 16, he left to manage the New York Giants, and with him went Nothe's best hope of pitching in the majors.
The next season, Nothe was gone from the Dodgers' organization, and was pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens, a Tigers' farm team in the American Association. Nothe still continued to show moments of greatness. On August 4, 1949, Nothe threw a no-hitter for the Mud Hens against the Minneapolis Millers. It came the day after teammate Hal White had allowed the Millers just one hit and created a record-breaking run of 17 consecutive scoreless innings.
In the winter of 1949-50 Nothe pitched in the Panama Canal Zone League, leading the circuit with a 2.48 ERA. He returned to the Mud Hens for spring training and on April 20, he suffered a fracture of his pitching hand when a trunk fell on his hand as he was helping his wife pack for a trip to her Michigan home to attend the funeral of her grandmother. The Mud Hens chose not to wait for the hand to heal and gave him his release in May.
With the hand healed, Nothe was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles of the International League later in the season. The Orioles sold him to the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association in August as the Crackers looked for help in their pennant bid. The Crackers clinched the Southern Association title with Nothe making appearances in a number of key games.
|The pennant-winning 1950 Atlanta Crackers. Walt Nothe is back row, far right.|
He was back with Atlanta in 1951, and on August 16, now 33, he threw a two-hit shutout against the Little Rock Travelers and the following day Don Liddle did the same against the same team.
Nothe was with the Miami Beach Flamingos in 1952. On August 6, 1952, against the Miami Sun Sox, he hurled nine hitless innings, but lost the game 1-0 in the tenth. He had a perfect game going until a grounder was bobbled by the second baseman with two outs in the eighth.
With his dream of pitching in the major leagues gone, Walt Nothe continued to throw in the minors. He was with Fort Lauderdale of the Florida International League in 1953, and pitched for Macon Peaches in Sally League in 1954.
Walt Nothe went on to tend bar at Harry's at Rising Sun Avenue and Front Street in Philadelphia. He retired in 1982, and passed away on March 8, 1985, in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia. He was 67 years old.
Thanks to Jack V. Morris for help with this biography.
Created June 22, 2007. Updated April 2009.
Copyright © 2009 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.