JULY 2022 – Runner Up – Colt Woodard, Montgomery, MI
It’s All-Star time, and you get to select the ultimate All-Star team! Submit your 9-player roster for each starting position, plus an all-star manager, and tell us why this would be the *greatest* team. The twist? Players can be from any era of America’s pastime, and can combine NL and AL stars. Bonus: Include a team name, uniform ideas, and any other details….GOOD LUCK!
Colt Woodard, Montgomery, Michigan
To be the greatest all-star team ever, the team must consist of not only the greatest players, but the greatest people that put their country in front of their baseball career. During World War 2 over 500 major league players, coaches, managers, and umpires put their professional careers on hold to fight for our great country, so the players on this team not only represented baseball but we’re the ultimate representatives for our country.
PITCHER-Bob Feller: Feller began his major league career at the age of 17, 266 wins, a 2.5 ERA, and 2,581 strike outs were his Hall of Fame numbers. After spending 6 full seasons in the major leagues, on December 7th 1941 the Japanese bombed pearl harbor. Bob Feller enlisted in the U.S Navy two days later. During his time in the Navy, he served as a gun boat captain on the USS Alabama. Feller was discharged from the Navy on August 22nd, 1945 after earning 6 campaign ribbons and 8 battle stars. Feller has stated “I was only a gun captain on the battleship Alabama for 36 months. People have called me a hero for that, but I’ll tell you this-heroes don’t come home, survivors come home.” and that’s why Bob Feller is a Hall of Fame American.
CATCHER-Yogi Berra: When Yogi Berra turned 18 he put his baseball career on hold and joined the U.S Navy. Yogi worked on a rocket launching boat and served on D-Day. He also served in a 2nd assault on France, for which he received a medal from the French government. Yogi went on to serve in the Navy until May of 1946. After Berra was discharged from the Navy he went on to play for the New York Yankees. In his 19 years as a player, Berra won 10 World Series championships, was the American league MVP 3 times, and made 18 All-Star appearances. One time, Yogi was asked what the secret to his success in baseball was, he stated “Half of this job is 100% mental.” Berra died in September of 2015 at the age of 90, he was posthumously awarded the presidential medal of freedom.
FIRST BASE-Hank Greenberg: Hank Greenberg started his MLB career with the Detroit Tigers in 1930. Hank was considered to be one of the premiere power hitters of his generation and is widely considered one of the greatest sluggers in baseball history. He had 47 months of military service including service in World War 2 all of which took place during what would have been in the prime of his career. Hank Greenburg has 2 MVP awards and is enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame. Hank is easily one of the most underrated players to ever play the game due to the fact of him serving his country for 47 months in the prime of his career. On May 7th, 1941 he was inducted into the U.S Army. In November as serving as an anti-tank gunner, he was promoted to sergeant but was honorably discharged on December 5th two days before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Greenberg re-enlisted as a sergeant on February 1st, 1942 and volunteered for service in the Army/Air Forces, becoming the first major league player to do so. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Air Corps. He was eventually promoted to captain and requested overseas duty that year. Greenburg served 37 months, the longest of any major league player. Greenburg finished his career a 5 time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, 4-time AL home run leader, 4-time Al RBI leader, and was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1956.
SECOND BASE-Jerry Coleman: Even though Jerry Coleman did not put up Hall of Fame numbers as a player, nobody can argue that he was a Hall of Fame American. Coleman did however appear in 6 World Series, winning 4 of them and in 2005 he was given the Ford C. Frick Award of the National Hall of Fame for broadcasting excellence. However, his career in the military is 2nd to none where he received 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War 2 Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and a Philippine Liberation Medal. Although several MLB ball players flew during World War 2, he was the only active player to do the deed twice for going in his career to fly in combat in World War 2 and the Korean War. Coleman flew 57 missions during World War 2 and another 63 missions during the Korean War making him worthy to be on this all-star team
THIRD BASE-Al Rosen: Al Rosen enlisted in the U.S Navy in 1942, he spent 4 years fighting in the pacific delaying his professional baseball career. He navigated an assault boat in the initial landing of Okinawa. Rosen went on to play for the Cleveland Indians where he would play his whole career. He was a 4-time all-star, AL MVP, and in 1954 the Indians won the AL pennant with 111 victories. Rosen is a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, the national Jewish sports hall of fame, the international Jewish sports Hall of Fame, and the Texas league Hall of Fame.
SHORTSTOP-Pee Wee Reese: After 4 years in Baseball by 1942, the 24 year-old Reese, was a NL all-star, but this was to be his last season in the major leagues due to joining the Navy for World War 2. He joined the 3rd fleet team for the U.S Navy’s Pacific tour and was then assigned to go on. Back with the Dodgers in 1946, Reese was named to the NL all-star team for 9 consecutive seasons. His Hall of Fame career consisted of 2 world series, 10 time all-star, led the NL in stolen bases in 1942. In 2013 he also received the Bob Feller “Act of Feller ” award which awarded Reese as one of 37 baseball Hall of Fame members in the U.S Navy in 1942.
RIGHT FIELD-Hank Bauer: Hank Bauer delayed his professional baseball career to serve in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1945. Bauer enlisted one month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following basic training, Bauer volunteered to join the elite Marine Raiders. He was assigned to the 4th Raider battalion which in August of 1942 was deployed to Guadalcanal in the South West Pacific. After surviving attacks by the Japanese and a bout of malaria, Bauer participated in the landing on Emirau in March of 1944 that was followed by the New Georgia campaign in June of 1944 and the Battle of Guam in 1944. In the Battle of Guam, Bauer was wounded in the back by enemy shrapnel. During the battle he got awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor. Next came the battle of Okinawa in April of 1945 by this time, Bauer was a sergeant and led a platoon into battle, most of which were killed. Bauer and 5 others made it out alive, but Bauer was wounded in the leg by enemy artillery fire. He also received a 2nd Bronze Star Medal during battle. The wounds he received during Okinawa were severe enough to be sent back to the United States to recuperate. Bauer was fortunate, his recovery went well, and he went on to become a baseball legend. His military service included, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts, and an Accommodation Metal. His 14 seasons in the major leagues were highlighted by winning 7 world series, a 17-game hitting streak in the world series, a .277 batting average, 164 home runs, 703 RBIs, and a .982 fielding percentage. Bauers numbers undoubtedly would be higher if it wasn’t for his time in the military and the injuries he received. Hank Bauer is a true American Hero.
CENTER FIELD-Larry Doby: Lary Doby started his career in 1942 where he played for the all black Newark Eagles. From 1943 through 1946 Doby served in the U.S Navy in 1945 he was stationed in Ulithi, a volcanic atoll in the Caroline Islands between Guam and the Philippines. The island was a major staging area for the Navy for its final push to secure the Philippines and begin the evasion of Japan. On July 5th of 1947 Doby began playing for the MLB’s Celeveland Indians. Dobys career consisted of 7 time all-star, World Series champ, two-time AL home run leader, and AL RBI leader.
LEFT FIELD-Ted Williams: Williams was signed to a professional baseball contract right about high school. In 1939 he joined the Boston Red Sox and led the Al in RBIs. In 1941 his batting average was .406 making him the first to hit a .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. In 1942 Williams won his first Triple Crown .356 BA, 36 HR, and 137 RBIs. Then, on May 22nd of 1942 Williams enlisted in the Navy. Williams joined the V5 program with hopes to become a Naval Aviator. From September to December in 1943, he took primary training in Indiana then went to Florida for Intermediate training where he set records for Aerial Gunnery. Williams received his Pilot wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on May 2nd 1944. Then in 1945, Williams went through the Corsair Operational Training Unit at Jacksonville. He was in Hawaii awaiting orders when the war ended. Williams was discharged from the Marines in January of 1946. In 1946 he led the Red Sox to the World Series. He finished the season with .343 BA, 38 HR, and 123 RBIs and was named the Al’s MVP. In 1952 at the age of 34, Williams was recalled to active duty for service in the Korean War. Williams flew 39 combat missions. In one mission, Williams plane got hit and it had smoke and fire pouring from around the engine which usually meant an explosion that would blow the tail off. Choosing not to eject, Williams decided to return to Seoul instead. William’s plane had no landing flaps, and the landing gear wouldn’t come down, so he bellied in at 150 miles per hour or more, and slid up the runway for 2,000 feet, jumped out of his plane, and ran to a safe distance and watched his plane burn on the runway. His military awards include Naval Aviator Badge, Air Medal with two Gold Stars, Navy Unit Combination, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, World War 2 Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and a Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars. His baseball awards consisted of 19-time all-star, 2-time AL MVP, 2-time Triple Crown, 6-time AL batting champion, 4-time AL HR leader, 4-time AL RBI leader, MLB record .482 on-base record, and inducted into the Hall of Fame of 1966.
MANAGER-Mickey Cochrane: Mickey Cochrane’s Hall of Fame career consisted of being a 2-time all-star, 3-time World Series champion, and 2 time AL MVP. Cochrane’s career batting average was .320, which is still an MLB record for a catcher. Cochranes first managerial job was with the Detroit Tiger where he was named player manager. The Tigers had picked to finish 4th or 5th place in 1934, but Cochrane led them to AL championship, their first pennant in 25 years. They won 101 games, which was the most ever by a team for 34 years, and Cochrane was the first rookie leader to get 100 wins. He followed this by leading the Tigers to another AL pennant in 1935 and earning a victory over the Cubs in the 1935 series. In 1937 Cochrane was hit in the head by a pitch and was hospitalized for 7 days, Cochrane nearly died from the injury. He was forced to retire as a player at the age of 34 due to the injury. Despite his head injury, Cochrane served in the U.S Navy during World War 2. He was commissioned as a lieutenant and assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes, where he oversaw physical training of new recruits and coached the baseball team. Later in the war, Cochrane became a lieutenant commander and was assigned a similar role in the Pacific Theater.
TEAM NAME: The American GI’s
TEAM UNIFORM: Our uniforms would be forest green in color with the letters GI on the front right breast of the uniform with an American flag patch on the left shoulder of the uniform, and on the right shoulder sleeve, we would have 2 gold stars. The 2 gold stars would represent the 2 major league baseball players that gave their lives during World War 2, Harry O’Neill and Elmer Gedeon. Harry O’Neill was killed in action on march 26th, 1945 at the age 27 in the battle Iwojima. On April 20th 1944, Gedeon’s plane dropped its bombs as antiaircraft fire ripped through its carriage and the plane burst into flames. Gedeon and 5 of his crew mates were killed in action.
The men on this team did not only represent good baseball players, but represented even greater Americans. As they put their country in front of themselves and their baseball careers. And, every time the National Anthem is played at a professional baseball game, we should not only remember these great men who represented our country, but all the men and women who served our country in the armed forces.