Date and Place of Birth: April 21, 1919 North Tonawanda, New York
Died: July 9, 1997 North Tonawanda, New York
Military Unit: USAAF
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations
A “Stan” Rojek was born on April 21, 1919 in
The 23-year-old was with
promising career was put on hold when military service beckoned
in 1943. Rojek served with
the 58th Training Group of the Army Air Force at
“We gave everything we had,” he told The
Sporting News in December 1945. “There was no loafing or protecting
yourself. Not before those crowds. Some of us got razzed, too, but
it was all very friendly. One day, on Saipan, Captain Birdie
Tebbetts thought he recognized the deep bleat of a fan who used to
get on him every time he played in
Birdie came to bat in the seventh inning, he spotted his tormentor
and hollered back to the bench: ‘That fellow,’ he said, pointing,
‘has followed me all the way from
“Sure enough, it was the same fan who always
picked on Tebbetts when the Tigers played in
Rojek really blossomed as an all-round player in the Pacific. He led the 20th Air Force tour with a .363 batting average and also clouted three home runs.
Rojek was discharged from service in December 1945, confident that he could win the shortstop job from Pee Wee Reese and Claude Corbitt. “The war years may have retarded the chances of some young players,” he said at the time, “but I am one of the fortunate. I am leaving the Army a better player because I had the experience of playing with and against seasoned major league stars. I played more than 200 games in the Army, and I didn’t do badly.”
Claude Corbitt proved no problem for Rojek as he was sold to the Reds in March 1946. However, he was unable to compete with future Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese. Rojek played just 45 games as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-hitter, batting .277. A similar fate awaited the 28-year-old in 1947 but his purchase by the ittsburgh Pirates in November of that year gave him an opportunity to play regularly.
Rojek played 156 games for the Pirates in 1948
and batted .290, leading the league with 150 singles. In 1949, his
average dropped to .244 and by 1950 he was a platoon player. He was
traded to the Cardinals in 1951, where he played 51 games and batted
.274 but was selected off waivers by the Browns the following season
and appeared in just nine games to end his major league career.
Rojek spent most of 1952 with
Stan Rojek suffered a stroke in 1995 and
passed away on July 9, 1997 in
Created April 4, 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.