Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Cal McLish

 

Date and Place of Birth: December 1, 1925 Anadarko, Oklahoma

Baseball Experience: Major League
Position:
Pitcher
Rank:
Unknown
Military Unit:
3rd Infantry Division US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Cal McLish – whose full name is Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish – was born on December 1, 1925 in Anadarko, Oklahoma. The ambidextrous 18-year-old had played American Legion and semi-pro ball in Oklahoma before signing with Brooklyn Dodgers’ scout Tom Greenwade in 1944.

Without playing a single game in the minors, McLish made his major league debut on May 13. Coming in against the Cardinals with the bases full and a slender lead to protect, he didn’t quite get the job done (the Dodgers lost, 8-4) but struck out Danny Litwhiler and showed enough to earn the respect of his mates and the fans in St Louis.

From the outset, it was known that McLish could be called for military service at any time and he had favored the Navy. However, on August 15, 1944 (with a 3-10 record and 7.82 ERA) McLish left the Dodgers in St Louis (after the hat had been passed around by his teammates and collected $120) and found himself inducted in the Army on August 21.

McLish served with the 3rd Infantry Division in Europe and earned two battle stars before the German surrender in May 1945. With the cease of hostilities, McLish pitched for the 3rd Infantry Division baseball team in Czechoslovakia during the summer of 1945.

McLish was discharged from service in August 1946 and returned to the Dodgers for one brief appearance before the season was over. He was traded to the Pirates the following season and pitched one game at the major league level while spending most of the season with Kansas City of the American Association. Most of 1948 was spent with Indianapolis of the American Association and he was on the move again at the end of the season in a trade to the Chicago Cubs. He pitched briefly for the Cubs in 1949 and spent most of that year with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League where he was 8-11.

McLish really developed as a pitcher with Los Angeles in 1950. He was 20-11 that year with a 3.60 ERA, earning a recall to the Cubs for 1951, where he was 4-10 in 30 appearances. It was back to Los Angeles in 1952 where McLish enjoyed great success and was traded to the San Diego Padres in April 1955.

After a four-year hiatus, McLish was back in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1956 and pitching better than ever. He won 16 games in 1958 and a career-high 19 games in 1959 and was an American League all-star selection. He continued to pitch in the major leagues with the Reds, White Sox and Phillies until 1964. In a career that spanned 15 seasons over three decades, he finished with a 92-92 won-loss record.

Cal McLish later served as a coach with Phillies, Expos and Brewers during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Created May 14, 2008.

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