Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


Paul Campbell


Date and Place of Birth: September 1, 1917 Paw Creek, North Carolina

Died: June 22, 2006 Charlotte, North Carolina
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: First Base
Rank: Technical Sergeant
Military Unit: 306th Bomb Group USAAF

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Major League Stats: Paul Campbell on Baseball-Almanac

Paul CampbellPaul M Campbell was born September 1, 1917 in Paw Creek, North Carolina. He was the only son of Charles Davis Campbell and Fannie Cooper Campbell.


Campbell played American Legion Legion baseball and semi-pro ball with the Arcadia and Pacolet teams in the competitive South Carolina textile leagues before signing his first professional contract with Danville of the Bi-State League in 1936. He batted .324 with 15 home runs and 88 RBIs his rookie year and moved up to Rocky Mount of the Piedmont League for 1937 where he hit .309. In 1938, Campbell was with Little Rock of the Southern Association. He batted .330, led the league with 192 hits. and was rated as "one of the greatest first basemen ever to come out of the Southern Association." Campbell looked to be a certain successor for the Red Sox aging first baseman, Jimmie Foxx.

Campbell had strong seasons with Louisville of American Association in 1939 and 1940, and was with Boston at the start of 1941. Thirty-three year-old Jimmie Foxx, however, was off to a great start and there was little playing time for Campbell. He appeared in just one game and was optioned to Montreal for the remainder of the season.

When Foxx was sold to the Cubs in June 1942, it was expected that Campbell would be his replacement. However, another youngster, Tony Lupien turned in a superb rookie performance which limited Campbell to just 26 -mostly pinch hitting - appearances for a .067 batting average.


Campbell entered military service at Camp Croft, South Carolina on January 21, 1943. Following his induction he served with the Army Air Force at Morris Field, North Carolina, where he trained with the supply division. He was transferred to Jacksonville Army Air Base, Florida, in April 1943, and was sent overseas to Thurleigh airfield in England with the 306th Bomb Group shortly afterwards. Campbell was the hitting star with the 306th "Reich Wreckers" team and played in the all-professional  game at London in August 1943. Following this game the Eighth Air Force team toured US military camps all over England. In 29 games, Campbell led the 20-man squad with seven home runs and a .470 batting average. He also played for the "Greys" in the UK All-Star game held at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London in June 1945.


8th Air Force All-Stars 1943
The Eighth Air Force All-Stars in England, 1943. (Campbell is front row, fourth left)

When asked how he felt about losing vital playing years during the war, he replied: "That's the way it was and, besides, I had fun playing ball over there."

Campbell was back with the Red Sox in 1946, but the team had just obtained Rudy York to play first base. Campbell played just 28 games and batted a lowly .115. However, on October 15 he made a pinch-running appearance in the World Series.

Campbell was sent to Louisville for the 1947 season, admitting, "I have to convince myself that I can play ball. For the last five seasons, I've been at-bat only 41 times. I've played only three full seasons since the start of 1942. Sitting on the bench with the Red Sox in 1942 and again last season after three years in the service has made me feel uncertain of my ability. I don't know whether I can play because I haven't had a chance to play."

But at 29, he proved he could still play by turning in his finest season. In 152 games with the Louisville team he batted .304 with 71 RBIs, received MVP honors and prompted manager Harry Leibold to say: "There's no finer fielding first baseman anywhere. I think he would be a handy guy for any big league club to have around."

On September 27, 1947, Campbell was purchased by Detroit as a back-up to George Vico. Over the next two years he played a total of 146 games, and on May 14, 1949, he tied a major league record for first basemen by participating in two unassisted double plays in one game.


Campbell spent most of 1950 with Toledo of the American Association, where he batted .300 and then hit .299 the following season. He hit .318 with Williamsport of the Eastern League in 1952, and was player-manager at Little Rock and Hagerstown before accepting a position as business manager with Hagerstown in late-1954. Paul Campbell went on to serve as president of the Louisville club, and began a long career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1958 when he became a scout. In 1964 he was promoted to Traveling Secretary, remaining in that position until 1978. He spent a total of 57 years in professional baseball.


Paul Campbell passed away on June 22, 2006 in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. He was 88 years old.


Created June 11, 2006. Updated January 6, 2008. 

Copyright © 2015 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.