Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Ralph McLeod


Date and Place of Birth: October 19, 1916 North Quincy, Massachusetts

Died: April 27, 2007 Weymouth, Massachusetts

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: 291st Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations


Ralph A McLeod was born on October 19, 1916 in North Quincy, Massachusetts. He began his professional career with McKeesport of the Penn State League in 1936. He was playing right field for Hartford when he was called up by the Boston Braves in September 1938.


McLeod appeared in six games and got his first big league hit off Paul Dean on September 21. He was with Toronto of the International League in 1939, and was recalled to Boston in midseason for about a week but never played. He was back at Hartford in 1940 and finished the season with St Paul.


McLeod entered military service in February 1941. He started out with the coastal artillery before being transferred to the 75th Infantry Division. He was shipped to Europe in 1944 and went into action on Christmas Eve during the Battle of the Bulge. McLeod vividly remembers how cold it was at that time. “When we had long marches, we started off with an overcoat,” he told Dick Thompson in 1995. “Of course, to carry an overcoat with an M-1 is pretty heavy. The first thing you discarded was the overcoat, no matter how cold it was. All we had was a Red Cross sweater underneath our GI jacket. Come night time you cut off a few fir branches and put them on top of the snow, get your roll out, get inside, put your shoes in there so they wouldn't freeze and sleep away. It's an experience I wouldn't want to go through again.”


His division also saw action with the French in the Colmar area and the British in Holland. "We got bounced around to different places," he later said. "We ended up in Dortmund, Germany. We saw a lot of action. I lost a lot of good friends."


After the war ended in Europe, McLeod played baseball all over Europe and vividly remembers batting against Ewell Blackwell. "He blew them by me so fast I couldn't see them."


After missing four seasons in military service, McLeod could see no point in returning to baseball. He worked as a firefighter with the Quincy, Massachusetts, Fire Department from 1948 to 1980.


Ralph McLeod passed away April 27, 2007 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was 90 years old and is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Quincy, Massachusetts.


Some of the above information was obtained from the SABR Baseball Biography Project.


Created May 26, 2007. Updated August 26, 2007.


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