Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Al Brazle

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 19, 1913 Loyal, Oklahoma

Died: October 24, 1973 Grand Junction, Colorado

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Unknown

Military Unit: 65th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized), 65th Infantry Division US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

 

Al BrazleAlpha E “Al” Brazle was born on October 19, 1913 on a farm near Loyal, Oklahoma. He was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1936 and traded to the Cardinals in September 1940.

 

He was 11-8 for the Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League, with a league-leading 1.69 ERA when he was called up by the Cardinals in late-July 1943. Brazle had an exceptional 1.53 ERA with St Louis that year and was 8-2 on the regular season, but lost his only start against the Yankees in the World Series.

 

Brazle and Harry Walker were inducted at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the day after the 1943 World Series ended. They were both assigned to the Cavalry Replacement Training Center (CRTC) at Fort Riley, Kansas.

 

Brazle and Walker played baseball for the CRTC Centaurs baseball team. Pete Reiser was the manager and he had an impressive line-up that included Ken Heintzelman, Lonnie Frey, Murry Dickson, Joe Garagiola and Rex Barney. The Centaurs played in the Kansas Victory League in Wichita which consisted of four service teams and two factory clubs. “All players here at camp do a full day’s work,” Reiser assured the Ogden Standard-Examiner on July 26, 1944. “We work out from four to six each night unless it’s a game.”

 

On July 27, 1944, the Centaurs played a War Bond game against the Toledo Mud Hens to raise $500,000 in bond sales for the purchase of a B-29 Superfortress bomber. The Centaurs won the game 11-10 as the Mud Hens committed six errors.

 

In August 1944, the Centaurs competed in the National Semi-Pro championship tournament but were knocked out in the early rounds. The Sherman Field Flyers based at Fort Leavenworth were the eventual winners behind the pitching of Herman Besse.

 

Along with George Scharein, Rex Barney, Ken Heintzelman, George Archie and Harry Walker, Brazle was later assigned to the 65th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized) of the 65th Infantry Division at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and arrived in Europe in January 1945. They breached the Siegfried Line in mid-March, crossed the Rhine at the end of the month, the Danube in late-April and reached Austria in May 1945.

 

After the cease of hostilities Brazle pitched for the 65th Infantry Division baseball team. With Walker and Heintzelman the 65th was a strong team but were defeated in the Third Army playoffs. All three players joined the 71st Infantry Division Red Circlers as they tried to claim the ETO World Series title from the underdog OISE All-Stars. Brazle did not make an appearance in the ETO World Series as the 71st Red Circlers succumbed to the OISE All-Stars in the best of five series.

 

Brazle was back with the Cardinals in 1946 and enjoyed nine post-war seasons with the team. He won 14 games in 1947 and 1949, and led the National League in saves in 1952 and 1953. He ended his career with Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League in 1955.

 

Al Brazle, who was living in Cortez, Colorado, passed away on October 24, 1973 at Veteran’s Hospital, Grand Junction, after suffering a long illness. He was just 60 years old.

 

Created June 4, 2007. Updated January 28, 2008.

 

Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved. 

 

 


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