Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Tommy Hughes

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 7, 1919 Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Died: November 28, 1990 Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Private First Class

Military Unit: US Army

Area Served: United States

 

Thomas O. Hughes was born on October 7, 1919, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He attended Hanover Township High School where he converted from a first baseman to a pitcher and after graduating in 1937 he played semi-pro baseball while turning down several offers to go to college. In 1939, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles of the Class AA International League but after a 0-2 record in seven appearances he was farmed to the Dover Orioles of the Class D Eastern Shore League. Hughes was unhittable at the Class D level. In 13 appearances he won nine games without a defeat and had a 1.80 ERA.

Not surprisingly, Hughes was recalled by Baltimore in 1940 and he started 26 games for a 14-11 won-loss record and 3.56 ERA. Hughes joined the Philadelphia Phillies for the 1941 season and made his major league debut in a 4-1 loss against the New York Giants on April 19. Quickly slotting in to the starting rotation, Hughes made 34 appearances on the mound and put up a 9-14 record for a Phillies team that lost 111 games. In fact, Hughes’ nine wins was the best among pitchers on the team’s staff along with Johnny Podgajny who suffered 12 defeats.

In 1942, 22-year-old Tommy Hughes was the ace of the Phillies’ pitching staff. He had a 12-18 won-loss record with an excellent 3.06 ERA for the basement-dwelling National League club.

With a bright future ahead of him in baseball, Hughes entered military service on December 19, 1942, and served as a Private First Class with the Army at New Cumberland Reception Center, Pennsylvania. Pitching for the camp team on July 18, 1943, Hughes out pitched Tom Earley (formerly of the Boston Braves) as New Cumberland won, 4-2, for its second straight game against the powerful Norfolk Naval Training Station. Then, on July 28, he held Fort Dix to three hits in a 9-2 win. The New Cumberland Reception Center baseball team finished the season with a record of 44 wins and six losses - Hughes was 14-3 for the year.

In 1944, Hughes was assigned to Camp Siebert in Alabama, a replacement training center for the Army's Chemical Corps. Pitching for the Camp Siebert Gashouse Gang on July 16, Hughes stopped the 20th Armored Division Armoraiders’ 35-game winning streak with a 7-4 win, Ducky Detweiler hitting a three-run home run for the Gashouse Gang in the fourth inning.

 

In 1945, Hughes was at Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia, a staging area for the Hampton Road Port of Embarkation, where in addition to his military duties he continued to play baseball.

 

Twenty-six year-old Tommy Hughes was back with the Phillies in 1946. He had missed three full seasons of baseball at the major league level and finished with a 6-9 in 29 appearances with a 4.38 ERA. In 1947, on a pitching staff led by Dutch Leonard and Schoolboy Rowe, Hughes was 4-11 in 29 appearances and the Phillies traded him to the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the year. In his only season with the Reds and last in the major leagues, Hughes was 0-4 in 12 games with an inflated ERA of 9.00. Hughes made seven appearances for the Syracuse Chiefs of the Class AAA International League at the end of the 1948 season and wound up his career with the Tulsa Oilers of the Class AA Texas League the following season.

In 1950, Hughes was named director of baseball in his hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in charge of baseball diamonds sponsored by the city park department. In 1953, he was a coach with the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the Eastern League and briefly went on the active list in mid-season.

Tommy Hughes passed away on November 28, 1990, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was 71 years old.

 

See Tommy Hughes' Baseball in Wartime blog entry

 

Created June 17, 2007. Updated February 7, 2010.

 

Copyright © 2010 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.