Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Norm "Red" Branch


Date and Place of Birth: March 22, 1915 Spokane, Washington

Died: November 21, 1971 Navasota, Texas

Baseball Experience: Major League
Military Unit:
US Coast Guard

Area Served: United States

Major League Stats: Norm Branch on Baseball-Almanac

Norm BranchNorman D “Red” Branch was born on March 22, 1915 in Spokane, Washington. He played baseball at the University of Texas and signed with the New York Yankees in 1937. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander pitched for Norfolk of the Piedmont League his rookie year posting an impressive 14-4 record and earning promotion to Kansas City of the American Association.

By 1939, Branch was with Newark of the International League where he worked primarily as a relief pitcher and appeared in 41 games that season. The 25-year-old made 30 appearances for Newark in 1940 and joined the Yankees in 1941. He made his major league debut on May 5, 1941 and appeared in 27 games for a 5-1 record and 2.87 ERA although he didn’t pitch in the World Series against Brooklyn.

In 1942, he made just 10 appearances for the Yankees and entered military service with the Coast Guard at the end of the year. Branch was initially stationed at Groton in Connecticut before moving to the Coast Guard Academy at New London where he spent the rest of the war and pitched for the Coast Guard Dolphins.

Returning from service at the end of 1945 with a sore arm, Branch pitched briefly for Newark and Beaumont in 1946 before retiring from the game. He returned to his home in Texas and played semi-pro ball for a number of years. “I played semi-pro baseball with Red for several years in the late 1940s and early 1950s," recalls Herb Schulze of Navasota, Texas. "He was still quite a ballplayer then and I was very impressed as a high school and college student to be sharing the diamond with a former New York Yankee pitcher.”

Norm Branch passed away in Navasota, Texas on November 21, 1971. He was only 56.

Created April 26, 2008. Updated January 11, 2015


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