Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Minor League BaseballRuss Bauers


Date and Place of Birth: May 10, 1914 Townsend, Wisconsin

Died: January 21, 1995 Westchester, Illinois

Baseball Experience: Major League
Military Unit: US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Major League Stats: Russ Bauers on Baseball-Almanac



Russell L “Russ” Bauers was born on May 10, 1914 at Townsend, Wisconsin. His family later moved to Lakewood, Wisconsin, where he attended two years of high school, completing his high school course at Oconto, Wisconsin.


Bauers played for the Lakewood town team, and while pitching for Oconto High in a district championship game, he struck out 19 batters in seven innings.


Following high school graduation, Bauers worked as a lumberjack and played semi-pro baseball with the Chicago Mills team where he attracted attention from the Philadelphia Phillies in 1935. He signed with the club that year and appeared in 10 games with the Hazleton Mountaineers of the New York-Penn League for a 3-1 record and 2.53 ERA.


In the meantime, the Chicago Mills semi-pro complained to Commissioner Landis about losing Bauers to the Phillies. The result being that Bauers was made a free agent and subsequently signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates sent him to Scranton, also in the New York-Penn League, but he was quickly moved on to Knoxville of the Southern Association. Bauers was 9-3 with the Smokies and among his performances was an 11-inning 1-1 tie that was called because of darkness.


Impressed with his performance, the Pirates brought him up in August and he made his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs on August 20, 1936.


An excellent spring showing at the Pirates’ camp in San Bernardino, California, ensured a place on the Pittsburgh roster for 1937 and he rewarded the team with a 13-6 record and a 2.88 ERA that was fourth best in the National League.


Bauers remained with the Pirates through 1941, but poor performance and arm problems saw a return to the minors for 1942. He spent the season with the Albany Senators of the Eastern League where a late-season surge - which included six wins in a row and back-to-back two hitters - prompted a recall to the Pirates at the close of the season. Although he did not pitch for the Pirates in 1942, Bauers was hopeful he would make the club in 1943. Furthermore, an x-ray revealed that a growth in his shoulder had been responsible for his sore arm. A simple operation to remove the growth could restore his arm. But before the operation could be performed, he was called into military service.


During the summer of 1943, Bauers pitched for the Camp Grant, Illinois team. He was later assigned to the Detachment Medical Depot of the 90th General Hospital and arrived in England in January 1944. The 90th General followed the Allied advance into Europe and Private Bauers was in France when Germany surrendered in May 1945.


Playing for the OISE All-Stars during the summer of 1945, Bauers was earning glittering praise for his pitching and was selected to play for the OISE All-Stars in the ETO World Series against the Third Army in September.


Bauers appeared in the fourth game of the Series in relief of Negro League pitcher Leon Day. Despite it being a losing cause, he pitched well, allowing three hits and one run over five and two-thirds innings against the likes of Harry Walker, Benny Zientara and Johnny Wyrostek.


“We played with and against all professional players,” he told The Sporting News on January 31, 1946, “and the brand of ball was pretty fast. I pitched about 15 games and don’t believe I lost any. I also went in several times in relief.”


Sergeant Bauers was back in the United States before the end of 1945. He joined the Pirates for spring training but despite his service team form was released in March 1946. He signed with the Chicago Cubs in July and made 15 appearances mostly in relief, for a 2-1 record and 3.53 ERA.


Bauers pitched for the Los Angeles Angels in the Pacific Coast League in 1947 and 1948. He joined the Baltimore Orioles in the International League in 1949 and briefly returned to the major leagues in 1950 to make a relief appearance for the St Louis Browns against the Philadelphia Athletics on May 6.


Bauers returned to the International League and pitched for Toronto for three years. He was 40 years old when he pitched his last professional game with the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League.


Russ Bauers passed away on January 21, 1995 in Westchester, Illinois. He was 80 years old.


Created January 4, 2008. Updated January 11, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.