Thousands of Major League Baseball players have answered the nation’s call, serving in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and peacetime. The following post — which is still under development — is the second post of players who served in the United States Armed Forces. The first can be found here.
“Two-thirds of the Earth are covered by water. The other third by Garry Maddox.”
– Variously attributed
In the second round of the 1968 January amateur draft the Giants picked Garry Maddox, the son of a former Negro League pitcher. Maddox learned that he received a much smaller bonus than other rookies, and with his family needing the money, he left baseball after just one season and joined the Army. Maddox volunteered for service in Vietnam, where he became a Christian, combat was part of his daily routine and he received a bad chemical burn. Once his father experienced a series of heart attacks he requested a hardship discharge to take care of his family. Despite being away from baseball for two years, the Giants took him back. The “Secretary of Defense” would earn eight Gold Gloves in a row and became one of the greatest outfielders in Phillies history.
After playing eight games with the 1963 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers — getting a double in his only major league at-bat — Roy Gleason was drafted and sent to Vietnam. He became the only major league baseball player wounded in the conflict when he was wounded with shrapnel from a Viet Cong attack in 1968. Gleason would earn the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service.
Before he was a four-time World Series champion second baseman for the New York Yankees and the voice of the San Diego Padres, Jerry Coleman was the only Major League baseball player to fight in both World War II and Korea. Between the two wars, Lt. Col. Coleman (USMC) flew 120 combat missions, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 13 Air Medals.
Before joining the Navy during World War II Bob Lemon only played in ten big league games between two seasons. After three years in the Navy, serving in California and Hawaii, he made the switch to pitcher, winning 20 games seven times during his Hall of Fame Career.
More players to be added shortly:
- Tony Kubek
- Ted Williams
- Joe DiMaggio
- Babe Ruth
- Whitey Ford
- Dick Groat
- Ken Boyer