Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

Click Here to Review Fritz Ostermueller's Stats on Baseball Almanac
“Where what happened yesterday is being preserved today.”


Fritz Ostermueller


Date and Place of Birth: September 15, 1907 Quincy, Illinois

Died: December 17, 1957 Quincy, Illinois
Baseball Experience: Major League
Military Unit: US

Area Served: United States

Frederick R “Fritz” Ostermueller was born on September 15, 1907 in Quincy, Illinois. In 1926, he left St John’s College to join the St Louis Cardinals’ Quincy farm club in the Three-I League where he had a 3-1 record in seven games. The following year with Quincy he was 7-8 and advanced to Topeka of the Western Association in 1928. He was 20-12 with Shawnee of the same league in 1929 and moved up to Rochester of the International League in 1930.

Ostermueller spent the next two seasons with Greensboro of the Piedmont League, and after a 21-9 season in 1932 he was back with Rochester. His 16-7 record and 2.44 ERA in 1933 prompted interest from the Boston Red Sox who purchased the 25-year-old at the end of the season. 

He made his major league debut with the Red Sox on April 21, 1934 and finished the season with a 10-13 record and 3.49 ERA. Ostermueller remained with the Red Sox through 1940, enjoying a further three double-figure win seasons. He was purchased by the Browns in December 1940 and remained with that club until he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in July 1943.

Ostermueller was used sparingly by the Dodgers and was assigned to Syracuse of the International League on May 31, 1944. He refused to report and protested to Commissioner Landis but the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased his contract on June 1.

The 36-year-old enjoyed a new lease of life with the Pirates. He was 11-7 with a 2.73 ERA for the remainder of the season. Then, on May 10, 1945, Ostermueller was inducted into the Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He served as a private at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and pitched for the camp team, but was hospitalized there and granted a medical discharge on July 20, 1945.

Ostermueller rejoined the Pirates that season and finished the year with a 5-4 record. He was 13-10 in 1946, 12-10 in 1947 and – at the age of 40 – was 8-11 in 1948, his last year in the majors.

After his retirement, Ostermueller operated the Diamond Motel in Quincy, Illinois. He was later diagnosed with cancer and following an appeal for blood made over a TV station in December 1957, 18 people volunteered to donate blood to the ailing pitcher who was at St Mary’s Hospital in Quincy. Sadly, Fritz Ostermueller died on December 17, 1957. He was 50.

Thanks to John Green for help with this biography.

Created July 2, 2008.

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