Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Max Wilson


Date and Place of Birth: June 3, 1916 Haw River, North Carolina

Died: January 2, 1977 Greensboro, North Carolina

Baseball Experience: Major League
Petty Officer Third-Class
Military Unit:
US Navy

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Max Wilson was born on June 3, 1916 in Haw River, North Carolina. The 5-foot 7-inch left-hander was signed in 1938 and played for Springfield of the Middle-Atlantic League where he was 8-4 with a 3.67 ERA.

In 1939 Wilson joined Portsmouth of the Piedmont League and was 15-10, followed by a 20-10 season with the same club in 1940. He was called up by the Phillies in September of 1940 and made three forgettable relief appearances (his ERA was 12.86).

Back with Portsmouth in 1941, Wilson was 19-9 and his ERA stood at 2.39. He entered military service with the Navy at the end of the year and served at Norfolk Naval Training Station during 1942 and 1943.

Petty Officer Third-Class Wilson pitched spectacularly during the 1943 Norfolk Navy World Series. In the second game of the series on September 13, he hurled a four-hit 1-0 shutout against the Norfolk Naval Air Station to tie the series at one game apiece. Then, on September 17, he beat the airmen 2-1 in the fifth game of the series to give the Bluejackets a three-to-two lead. He was back on the mound on September 22, to clinch the series with a 1-0 five-hitter.

In 1944, Wilson was assigned to Bainbridge Naval Training Station, and was at Honolulu Naval Air Station in 1945, participating in the Navy World Series that year. Pitching for the Navy’s National League representative he threw a 4-0 one-hitter against the American League side in game two on September 28.

Wilson was discharged in late 1945, and joined the Washington Senators after being drafted from the Portsmouth club. He made nine relief appearances for the Senators before being assigned to Chattanooga of the Southern Association in June 1946. Wilson continued to pitch in the minors until 1949 with Burlington of the Carolina League and Wilson of the Coastal Plain League. He later worked as a scout for the Senators.

Max Wilson, whose finest days on the mound were while serving with the US Navy, passed away in Greensboro, North Carolina on January 2, 1977. He was just 60 years old and employed by S&W Distributors at the time.

Created April 24, 2008.


Copyright © 2013 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.