Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Purple HeartBronze StarDick Whitman


Date and Place of Birth: November 9, 1920 Woodburn, Oregon

Died: February 12, 2003 Peoria, Arizona
Baseball Experience: Major League
Military Unit: US

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Dick WhitmanDick C Whitman was born on November 9, 1920 in Woodburn, Oregon. A star centerfielder at Oregon University, he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in June 1942 and assigned to the Santa Barbara Saints of the Class C California League. After 21 games Whitman was batting .425 with a .609 slugging percentage and he spent the remainder of the season with the Durham Bulls of the Class B Piedmont League.

He lost the next three years to military service with the Army and saw action at the Battle of the Bulge in Europe, where he was seriously wounded when a shrapnel fragment pierced his back, came out through his shoulder and grazed his head. Whitman, who earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and three battle stars, also suffered frostbite to his toes which slowed his pace when he returned to baseball in 1946.

Whitman was with the Dodgers in 1946, making his major league debut on opening day April 16 against the Boston Braves. In 104 games he batted .260 with 31 RBIs. He was assigned to the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1947 but played a further 60 games with the Dodgers in 1948 and remained with the big league club in 1949 appearing in one game of the World Series against the New York Yankees. He was sold to the Phillies for 1950 where he batted .250 in 75 games and played in three World Series games, before finding himself back with the Dodgers’ organization for 1951.

Whitman never returned to the major leagues but continued to play in the minors. He was with the St Paul Saints of the American Association from 1951 to 1953, the Montreal Royals in 1953 and 1954, the Pacific Coast League’s Portland Beavers in 1955, and served as player-manager with the San Jose JoSox of the California League in 1956 and 1957.

Dick Whitman later worked as a manager for the San Jose Water Company for 29 years. He passed away February 12, 2003 in Peoria, Arizona, aged 82.

Created July 11, 2008.


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