Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Oadis Swigart


Date and Place of Birth: February 13, 1915 Archie, Missouri

Died: August 8, 1997 St Joseph, Missouri

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: US Army

Area Served: United States


Oadis Swigart, rookie pitcher, today became the first man on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster to be drafted. Swigart, 23, has been ordered to report to his local draft board at Archie, Missouri, for induction into the Army May 1.

United Press April 21, 1941


Oadis V Swigart was born in Archie, Missouri on February 15, 1915. The 6-foot right-hander signed his first professional contract in 1935 when he joined Jackson, Mississippi. He hurled for Oklahoma City in 1936 and Davenport in 1937.


Swigart was purchased by the Pirates in 1938 and joined their farm team at Montreal. He pitched for Knoxville of the Southern Association in 1939 and was called up by the Pirates in September. His first major league game was against the Dodgers on September 14 when he was defeated 8-4. But a week later, on September 21, Swigart won his first, and subsequently his only, major league game, scattering eight hits as he shutout the Boston Braves at Forbes Field.


Swigart spent most of 1940 with Syracuse in the International League and posted an 8-9 record. He made seven appearances for the Pirates and was 0-2.


The 26-year-old was with the Pirates for spring training in 1941 but was inducted by the Army on May 1 – one of only four major league players who lost the entire 1941 season to military service. He would serve at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.


By August 1941, Swigart was pitching for the Stearman Trainers, the semi-pro team of the Stearman Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kansas who were state champions and reached the regionals of the National Semi-Pro Baseball Tournament.


In 1942, Swigart was the player/manager of the Fort Leavenworth Reception baseball team.


Swigart remained in military service until late 1945. He was 31 years old when he reported to the Pirates spring training camp at San Bernardino, California. Despite some good performances in intrasquad games, Swigart failed to make the Pirates’ roster. It was the end of a brief major league career for the Missouri native who served nearly five years in the Army.


Swigart later worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation for 32 years. He was instrumental in developing the Honey Creek Wildlife Area in St Joseph.


Oadis Swigart passed away in St Joseph, Missouri on August 8, 1997, aged 82.  


Created February 20, 2007. Updated April 13, 2007.


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