Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Minor League BaseballDon Pinciotti


Date and Place of Birth: October 25, 1922 Carey, Ohio
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Catcher
First Lieutenant
Military Unit:
8th Army, US Army

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Don "Pince" Pinciotti was born on October 25, 1922 in Carey, Ohio. He was a two sport standout (football and baseball) at Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio. Upon graduation he received a football scholarship to the University of Dayton in June 1940 and during his first three years at Dayton he was a first-string fullback and punter. During the 1942 football season Pinciotti made All-Ohio and All-Catholic All-American. He averaged 49 yards per kick and ranked high among Division 1 colleges in the country.

Pinciotti enlisted in the Army in March 1942 having enrolled in the ROTC program at the University of Dayton. He attended the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia and graduated in August 1943. He was assigned to the Physical Training Division at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, where he served as a PT Instructor at the Officer Candidate School.

During Pinciotti's stay at Fort Benning he played with the baseball, football and basketball teams who played other military bases and several Southern Association teams including the Atlanta Crackers. In baseball, he was the team captain and Most Valuable Player. 

In July 1944, Pinciotti was invited by Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune to play against the Green Bay Packers at Soldiers Field in the College All-Star Game.

On September 1, 1944 Pinciotti was sent to the Pacific War Zone (Leyte, Philippines). After some combat experience, Lieutenant Pinciotti was assigned to transport the first contingent of Japanese Prisoners (2,000 of them) back to Yokohama, Japan on the liberty ship Helena Mojeska. 

Upon his arrival to Yokahama, Pinciotti became the 8th Army Special Service Officer for the Yokahama Area. He played football for the 8th Army team in the Tokyo Bowl on January 1, 1946 in Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. Pinciotti also played basketball and was the catcher and manager of the 8th Army baseball team who played their games in the renovated Lou Gehrig Stadium in Yokohama. 

Pinciotti returned to the states in August 1946 and completed his studies at the University of Dayton, graduating in June 1947. Prior to graduation, he signed a contract to play professional football with the Detroit Lions and after graduation, Pinciotti signed a bonus contract with the Chicago White Sox. He was assigned to the Waterloo White Hawks of the Three-I League who won the championship, with Pinciotti batting .272 in 42 games.

The following year Pinciotti batted .270 in 118 games with the White Hawks and advanced to the Memphis Chicks of the Class AA Southern Association in 1949. He played five seasons with the Chicks, who won the Dixie Series in 1952, and was an all-star in 1951 and again in 1952, finishing that season with a .322 batting average.

Pinciotti's greatest accomplishment is having eight children and 21 grandchildren. In 2008, the first ten grandchildren are attending college or have graduated with honors. He is retired and lives in Toledo, Ohio and speculates in sports memorabilia and is a member of the Minor League Baseball Alumni Association.

Thanks to Cheryl Pinciotti and Don Pinciotti for help with this biography.

Created July 4, 2008.


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