Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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National Baseball Hall of FamerCharlie Gehringer


Date and Place of Birth: May 11, 1903 Fowlerville, Michigan

Died: January 21, 1993 Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Second Base
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: US Navy

Area Served: United States

Major League Stats: Charlie Gehringer on Baseball-Almanac


Charles L “Charlie” Gehringer was born in Fowlerville, Michigan on May 11, 1903. After a year at the University of Michigan, where he played baseball and football, Gehringer began his pro career in the Michigan-Ontario League. He made his first appearance with the Tigers in 1924. 


In 19 seasons with the Tigers, Gehringer was a six-time all-star and led the American League with a .371 batting average in 1937.


Gehringer entered military service with the Navy in September 1942 and was appointed head baseball coach of the St Mary's Naval Pre-Flight School team in California for the 1943 season. Included on the team was former major leaguer Al Niemiec.


When Gehringer arrived at Jacksonville NAS in 1944, he told his Commanding Officer that he wanted to just coach the baseball team and not play. He was promptly told that he would play, and if he didn't, he would be sent so far they wouldn't know where to find him. Consequently, Gehringer played and managed the Jacksonville NAS Fliers.


In Donald Honig's Baseball When the Grass was Real, Gehringer recalled how seriously the commanding officers took baseball. "Once we had a game scheduled at Montgomery Air Base, in Alabama, and they came and picked us up and flew us to Montgomery for the game and then flew us back again."


When Gehringer had entered military service in 1942, he was seemingly finished as a player. He was 39 years old and finding it difficult to keep in shape. However, when he came out of the service in November 1945, having attained the rank of lieutenant commander, he was in great shape and, in hindsight, wished he played a couple more years. Instead, he became wealthy through an auto accessories business in Michigan.


Gehringer later served as general manager and vice-president of the Tigers. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.


Charlie Gehringer passed away on January 21, 1993 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was 89 years old.


Created April 13, 2007.


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