Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


Buddy Hassett


Date and Place of Birth: September 5, 1911 New York, New York

Died: August 23, 1997 Westwood, New Jersey
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: First Base
Rank: Lieutenant (jg)
Military Unit: US Navy

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Major League Stats: Buddy Hassett on Baseball-Almanac


Buddy Hassett, former first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and New York Yankees, and now a lieutenant in the Navy, has been appointed recreation officer of an aircraft carrier now nearing completion, the Navy announced today.

Associated Press May 20, 1944


John A “Buddy” Hassett was born on September 5, 1911 in New York. He attended Manhattan College where he played baseball as well as basketball on a team that won a school-record 17 consecutive games in 1930 and 1931.


Hassett graduated from college in 1933 and played minor league baseball with the New York Yankees. He was at Wheeling in 1933, Norfolk in 1934 and Columbia in 1935. At the same time he continued to play basketball with Union City (ABL) in 1933-1934 and Jersey (ABL) in 1934-1935.


Hassett was traded to Brooklyn in February 1936, and played every game of the season at first base for the Dodgers that season, batting .310. He remained the Dodgers’ regular first baseman through 1938. He was traded to the Boston Braves in the off-season and spent the next three years holding down the first base job.


In December 1941, Hassett was traded to the Yankees to replace first baseman Johhny Sturm who had gone into the service. He hit .284 in 132 games during the regular season and played against the Cardinals in the World Series. In game three of the series, Cardinals’ pitcher, Ernie White, broke Hassett’s wrist with a pitch.


Hassett entered military service with the Navy in 1943. He was stationed at the Preflight School at Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he turned out in the spring for the Chapel Hill Cloudbusters baseball team, featuring Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Harry Craft and Johnny Sain.


Buddy Hassett (left) with Johnny Sturm, who had the Yankees' first base job before entering military service.

On July 28, 1943, in a charity game for the Red Cross at Yankee Stadium‚ Babe Ruth lead a team of combined Yankees and Indians called the Yank-Lands against the Cloudbusters. Johnny Sain walked the Babe in his one plate appearance‚ as the Cloudbusters came out victorious‚ 11-5. Hassett was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.


In May 1944, Lieutenant (jg) Hassett was assigned to the Naval Training Station at Newport, Rhode Island, waiting to serve as recreation officer on a newly built aircraft carrier. He played baseball with the Sunset All-Stars in the Sunset League while at Newport, and attended the youth baseball school in July 1944, where he told the 75 young ballplayers that “the best way to be a good hitter is to keep at it and not be discouraged.”


Buddy Hassett with Babe Ruth before the charity game at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 1943.

Later that year, Hassett went to sea and served on the aircraft carrier USS Bennington (CV-20) from August 1944, participating in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions. He was the ship's athletic director.


Hassett was discharged from the Navy at New York on November 16, 1945.


Hassett was 34 years old when he reported to the Yankees spring training camp. He was released by the Yankees on April 30, 1946 and considered retiring from the game. But on May 6, he rejoined the organization and played with the Newark Bears. In 1949, Hassett took over as manager of the Bears.


Buddy Hassett was inducted into the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981. He passed away at the age of 85 on August 23, 1997 at Westwood, New Jersey.






Thanks to Brian Hassett, Buddy's nephew, for help with this biography and for permission to use the photos from his collection.


Created January 18, 2007. Updated April 13, 2007.


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