Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Gus Niarhos


Date and Place of Birth: December 6, 1920 Birmingham, Alabama

Died: December 29, 2004 Harrisonburg, Virginia

Baseball Experience: Major League
Military Unit:
US Navy

Area Served: United States


Gus Niarhos

Constantine G “Gus” Niarhos was born on December 6, 1920 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was an excellent athlete at West End High School in Birmingham. “I caught, played quarterback on the football team, and was on the basketball five, as well,” he told The Sporting News on May 12, 1948.


Niarhos (pronounced nigh-haas) received a scholarship for Auburn University where he played freshman sports but signed with the New York Yankees in the summer. His first season in professional baseball was with Akron of the Middle-Atlantic League in 1941. He batted .306 that year, helped the club win the pennant and made the all-star team.


He moved up to Binghamton of the Eastern League in 1942 and again made the all-star team with a .278 batting average and solid defensive work.


Niarhos’ career was put on hold when he entered military service with the Navy in 1943. He was stationed at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. “I did not have a baseball in my hand the first two years,” he later recalled. “In 1945, I played Sundays for a club in Cranston, Rhode Island.”


Niarhos returned to baseball in 1946 and joined the Yankees as a late-inning defensive replacement catcher. He made 37 appearances and batted .225 but made only one error in 87 fielding chances.


He joined Kansas City of the American Association in 1948. Enjoying a full season, he batted .321 and returned to the Yankees in 1948. His defensive skills kept him in the major leagues until 1955, enjoying stints with the White Sox, Red Sox and Phillies.


Following his playing career, Niarhos was a coach for the Kansas City A's and managed several minor league teams, including his hometown Birmingham, Alabama club.


Gus Niarhos passed away in Harrisonburg, Virginia on December 29, 2004. He was 84.


Created January 30, 2008.


Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.