Ferkovich: Ted Gray, World War II baseball star

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at the Detroit Athletic Co. on March 15, 2014:

He was a hot-shot pitching prospect in the spring of 1942, only 17 years old, fresh out of Highland Park High School. He signed with his hometown Detroit Tigers, who sent him to Winston-Salem, their Class B affiliate in the Piedmont League. In a game against the Greensboro Red Sox, he was throwing bullets and racking up K’s. The Sox’ forty-year-old manager, Heinie Manush, himself a former batting champion with the Tigers and a future Hall of Famer, kept riding the pitcher from the bench, trying to rattle him. The youngster would have none of it. “If you think I’m just a punk busher, why don’t you get up there with a bat?” he shouted. Manush accepted the challenge, inserted himself as a pinch-hitter, and quickly struck out on three pitches. “He’s one of the best left-handed pitchers I ever saw,” Manush admitted.

The pitcher’s name was Ted Gray, and today he is all but forgotten.

That first summer in organized ball, with Winston-Salem, the lefthander fashioned a 13-14 record. Not much to write home about, but his 2.07 ERA was certainly impressive.

Immediately following the season, Gray enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He spent time at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, playing on the Great Lakes team. It was an excellent club, coached by Mickey Cochrane, and featured major league stars Schoolboy Rowe and Dizzy Trout. Gray also pitched while stationed in New Hebrides, in the Pacific Theater, where he was a ship’s cook, second class.

Read the full article here: http://blog.detroitathletic.com/2014/03/15/tiger-lefty-ted-gray-star-pitcher-world-war-ii-pacific/

Originally published: March 17, 2014. Last Updated: March 17, 2014.