Guzzardi: On Memorial Day, remembering baseball’s fallen World War II heroes

From SABR member Joe Guzzardi at the Caledonian Record on May 22, 2019:

During World War II, of the 500-plus ML–players who served, only two young Americans were killed.

Captain Elmer Gedeon, with the USAAF’s 86th Bomb Squadron, was shot down on April 20, 1944, over Saint-Pol, France. U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Harry O’Neill lost his life on March 6, 1945, after being hit by Japanese sniper fire on Iwo Jima. O’Neill was one of 92 4th Marine Division officers that died on Iwo Jima. The invaluable website has more than 500 stories about baseball players from all levels who participated in the nation’s great wars.

Gedeon and O’Neill were outstanding young men, their parents’ pride and joy, admired in their communities and beloved by all. Graduates of the University of Michigan and Gettysburg College, respectively, Gedeon and O’Neill had wonderful futures – although perhaps not in the major leagues. Their experiences in the bigs were limited. In 1939, Gedeon played outfield during five games for the Washington Senators, and came to bat five times with one hit. O’Neill, a catcher, appeared in one game for the 1939 Philadelphia Athletics, but had no plate appearances.

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Originally published: May 22, 2019. Last Updated: May 22, 2019.