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II Hero of the Minor Leagues
e for details
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
Died: October 9, 2009, Brentwood, Missouri
310th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry
Division U.S. Army
Theater of Operations
John Tramelli was born in St. Louis, Missouri,
in 1926, and attended St. Louis University High School. He was
signed by the New York Giants while in high school and was assigned
to the Erie Sailors of the Class D PONY League in 1944. Used as a
starter and reliever, 18-year-old Tramelli made 18 appearances for
the Sailors for a 3-3 won-loss record. In late July, the Giants
organization sent him to the Bristol Twins of the Class D
Appalachian League where he was 1-3 over five games but the
youngster showed promise, particularly in a pitching duel against
the Erwin Cubs on July 31, when he hurled shutout ball for the first
seven innings. Tramelli had shown enough to receive a late-season
call up to the Jersey City Giants of the Class AA International
League where he made a two-inning relief appearance before the
season was over.
Tramelli’s advance in professional baseball came to an abrupt halt
when he was called into military service on October 10, 1944, and he
was inducted at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Not long after
Tramelli got into the service the Germans made their last major
offensive in the Ardennes in Europe - later known as the Battle of
the Bulge. America put all its available troops into the European
campaign and Tramelli joined the 310th Infantry Regiment of the 78th
Infantry Division. Also serving with the 78th at that time was St.
Louis Cardinals’ pitcher, Ernie White.
Tramelli found himself in the thick of the coldest winter in Europe
in many years and with night temperatures falling to around zero
degrees Fahrenheit, his top priorities were keeping his head down in
foxholes, and finding ways to stop his feet from freezing. Known as
the “Lightning Division,” the 78th held an area of the Siegfried
Line against violent German attacks throughout the winter before
advancing across the Rhine into Germany. During this time, Tramelli
suffered from exposure and was hospitalized for nine months where he
was treated for gangrene. Thanks to penicillin his leg was saved
from being amputated.
Following his long, slow recovery, Tramelli returned to professional
baseball in 1947. The New York Giants assigned the 21-year-old to
the Manchester Giants of the Class B New England League, where he
made 22 appearances for a 6-5 won-loss record. His best outing was
against the Lowell Orphans on August 9, when he hurled shutout ball
for six innings, beating the Orphans 4-1 and striking out seven.
The following year – 1948 – was a career-year for Tramelli. Pitching
for the Fort Smith Giants of the Class C Western Association, he was
almost unbeatable and finished the year with a 16-4 won-loss record
and 2.34 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts. Among his
notable performances during the season were a sizzling two-hitter
over the Leavenworth Braves on May 24, and 13 strikeouts against the
Joplin Miners in the last game of the season on September 2.
1948 Fort Smith Giants
John Tramelli is front row,
In 1949, the New York Giants assigned Tramelli to the Knoxville
Smokies of the Class B Tri-State League, but he failed to live up to
the hype surrounding his 1948 season. In 28 appearances he produced
a 5-9 won-loss record and a 4.75 ERA. Highlights of the year
included a 1-0, 3-hitter against the Spartanburg Peaches on June 28,
and a 6-3, 3-hitter, again over the Peaches on July 7.
Nineteen-forty-nine was his last year in professional baseball. In
1958, with a marketing degree from Washington University, Tramelli
and his lifelong friend, Jim Phelan, started Phelan-Tramelli Sales
Agency Inc, which has represented steel producers in the Midwest for
51 years. The business is still family-owned.
At the age of 83, John Tramelli, passed away on October 9, 2009, at
his home in Brentwood, Missouri. A funeral Mass will be celebrated
at Immacolata Church, St. Louis, on Tuesday October 13, followed by
his burial at Calvary Cemetery.
Read John Tramelli's Baseball in Wartime blog entry
Created February 7, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball
in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.