From SABR member Graham Womack at The Sporting News on May 30, 2017:
Major League Baseball is lucky in at least one respect. It hasn’t had many players killed in military service, though many have fought, including Hall of Famers.
Ted Williams flew 39 combat missions and was shot down during the Korean War. Warren Spahn took shrapnel to his foot during World War II, receiving a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, battlefield promotion and Presidential Citation, according to his SABR biography. Grover Cleveland Alexander suffered shell shock in the trenches of World War I and was never really the same.
Some might say baseball’s most famous war casualty was Christy Mathewson, who was two years removed from his last game when he had his lungs seared by poison gas during a training drill in 1918. Technically, though, the drill happened in New Jersey and Mathewson lived seven more years before succumbing to tuberculosis in 1925.
Mathewson has long since been in the Hall of Fame and rightfully so. He ranks among the greatest pitchers in MLB history and was an easy selection in the first Cooperstown vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 1936.
Baseball’s most famous player killed in combat is far more obscure than Mathewson and would be an egregiously bad selection statistically.
But there was a time when a number of influential people called for Eddie Grant’s enshrinement.
Originally published: May 30, 2017. Last Updated: May 30, 2017.