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Date and Place of Birth: June 13, 1916 Chicago, Illinois
Died: November 1994 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Military Unit: 63rd Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations
“Boots” Zelasko was born on June 13, 1916 in
In 1938, he was briefly with the Durham Bulls of the Class B Piedmont League but failed to hit well and spent the rest of the season with the Columbia Reds of the Class B South Atlantic League, where he batted .237 in 121 games. One of his teammates in 1938 was Junior Thompson who would win 13 games with the Cincinnati Reds the following year.
|San Antonio Light July 22, 1941|
The young infielder found himself with the independent Pensacola Pilots of the Class B Southeastern League in 1941, playing 88 games and batting .252 before being purchased in July by the Tulsa Oilers of the Class A1 Texas League, who were owned by the Chicago Cubs. He would be the team’s fifth shortstop of the season and it was hoped his defensive skills would help the club earn a place in the Texas League playoffs. “Although he isn’t a consistent hitter,” reported The Sporting News on July 31, 1941, “Zelasko will help the Oilers in more ways than one. He covers plenty of ground, gets rid of the ball fast on double plays and has helped pep up the entire infield.”
Playing alongside future major leaguers Dixie Howell, Don Johnson, Whitey Platt, Marv Rickert, Eddie Waitkus and Emil Kush, Zelasko played 58 games for the Oilers and batted .220. Of his 38 hits, 11 were doubles.
|Madison Capital Times June 2, 1942
Box score from the game Boots Zelasko played for
Camp Grant against the Chicago Cubs
At the peak of his baseball
career, military service beckoned and the 25-year-old entered
military service with the Army on May 1, 1942. He served at
Zelasko later served in Europe
with the 63rd Infantry Division, and following the Nazi
surrender, he played baseball for the 63rd Infantry
Division ball team in
Zelasko received his discharge
from the Army in December 1945. He attended the Chicago Cubs’
advanced training camp for former servicemen at
|The 1946 Davenport Cubs - champions of
the Three-I League
Boots Zelasko is front row, second right
Zelasko advanced to the Class A Des Moines Bruins of the Western League in 1947, but hit only .229 and was released by the Cubs’ organization at the end of the season. He joined the independent West Palm Beach Indians of the Class C Florida State League in 1948 and remained with the club for two seasons before joining the Fort Lauderdale Braves of the same league in 1950. Zelasko retired from baseball after the 1951 season, aged 35.
Zelasko passed away in November 1994 in
Created May 14, 2008.
Copyright © 2013 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.
|1938||Columbia||S Atlantic League||.237||2||38|
|1939||Columbia||S Atlantic League||.263||2||58|
|1940||Columbia||S Atlantic League||.232||0||22|
|1947||Des Moines||Western League||.229||0||14|
|1948||West Palm Beach||Florida International League||.250||2||36|
|1949||West Palm Beach||Florida International League||.196||0||32|
|1950||Fort Lauderdale||Florida International League||.242||1||38|
|1951||Fort Lauderdale||Florida International League||.214||2||28|