Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Dave Koslo


Date and Place of Birth: March 31, 1920 Menasha, Wisconsin

Died: December 1, 1975 Menasha, Wisconsin
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: 326th Glider Infantry, 13th Airborne Division US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations


Dave Koslo was born George B Koslowski on March 31, 1920 in Menasha, Wisconsin and attended Menasha High School. Together with his brother, Herb, the Koslowski boys were batterymates on the Twin Cities Papermakers team in the Menasha and Neenah Northern State League in 1936 – Dave was just 16 at the time.


In 1938, the 18-year-old southpaw, again with his brother behind the plate, was pitching for the Menasha Falcons semi-pro team in the Fox Valley League. Koslo helped the club to the state semi-pro tournament where he hurled a 2-0 no-hitter against the Wausau Athletics on September 12.


Dave and Herb both were signed by the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1938 and began their professional careers with Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1939. Herb went back to Menasha after the season to manage the Falcons while Dave went on to play at Paducah, Kentucky in 1940. He pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers before moving to New York for a stint with the Giants in the fall of 1941. He made his first appearance against the Reds on September 12 and recorded an impressive 1.90 ERA in 23 innings with the Giants. Koslo divided his time between the big leagues and Jersey City in 1942, making 19 appearances for the New York Giants with a 5.08 ERA.


He entered military service in January 1943 and took basic training with the Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. In 1943, he was based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he took paratrooper training and pitched 15 games. He pitched 14 games at Alliance Army Air Base in Nebraska in 1944, where he underwent training for glider-carried infantry troops and also pitched for the 13th Airborne in the National Semi-Pro Tournament at Wichita in Kansas that year. Later that year, Koslo co-managed the 326th Glider Infantry to the 13th Airborne Division league title at Camp Mackall. The team won both halves of the season posting a record of 30-8.


Koslo then spent seven months overseas with the 13th Airborne Division, which left the United States for France in January 1945, and was based at Sens, Joigny and Auxerre.


The 13th Airborne did not see combat and Koslo had plenty of time for baseball. The 13th Airborne Blackcats played a 37-game schedule in 1945 – losing just four games. Koslo hurled 14 straight victories in Europe, including a 9-0 five-hitter against the UK All-Stars at Sens, France in June 1945, and a 4-0 five-hitter against the same team in London in July 1945.


Following the surrender of Germany, Allied Airborne Army Headquarters announced that the Division would be redeployed to the Pacific to participate in the invasion of Japan after a stopover in the United States. The 13th Airborne arrived back in the United States on August 23, 1945 and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered and Koslo returned to the Giants in 1946, playing with them until 1954.


He led the major leagues in earned run average with a 2.50 mark in 1949. His best winning effort was a 15-10 mark in 1947. He had a lifetime won-loss record of 92-107 and an earned run average of 3.68. Probably the highlight of his major league career was winning the opening game of the 1951 World Series, 5-1, over the New York Yankees.


Koslo was released by the Giants in the spring of 1954 and was signed by the Baltimore Orioles who let him go in May. He later caught on with the Milwaukee Braves and ended his career with them in April of 1955.


After leaving baseball, Koslo was employed by the George Banta Company of Menasha. He died suddenly on December 1, 1975, aged just 55.


As the only Menasha athlete to ever play major league baseball, Koslo was recognized for his lifelong contributions to the city when the Menasha Ball Park was officially renamed Koslo Park in June 1976.


Created January 15, 2007. Updated April 13, 2007.


Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.