Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Ben Wade


Date and Place of Birth: November 26, 1922 Morehead City, North Carolina

Died: December 2, 2002 Los Angeles, California

Baseball Experience: Major League
Private First-Class
Military Unit: US

Area Served: United States

Ben WadeBenjamin S “Ben” Wade was born on November 26, 1922 in Morehead City, North Carolina. The younger brother of American League pitcher, Jake Wade, Ben was 17 when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization and made four appearances for the New Bern Bears of the Coastal Plain League.

In 1941, he joined the Cincinnati Reds organization and spent his sophomore professional year with the Indianapolis Indians of the Class AA American Association. Wade was 4-5 with a 2.83 ERA that year in 32 appearances. In 1942, the Reds sent Wade to the International League where he had a disappointing 2-11 record with the Syracuse Chiefs.

Military service beckoned on February 11, 1943 and Wade served with the Army Air Force at St Petersburg Air Force Base in Florida, where he played ball for manager Tom Winsett.

In 1944, Private First-Class Wade was transferred to Hammer Field in Fresno, California. Pitching for the Hammer Field Bombers (later known as the Hammer Field Night Hawks), he helped the team to the first half championship of the San Joaquin Valley League. Wade had an 18-1 record for the Bombers and threw an 11-0 one-hitter against the Seattle Rainiers in only their second game of season. Teammates at Hammer Field included Herm Reich, Earl Harrist and Nino Bongiovanni.

In December 1944, Wade was transferred to the infantry and stationed in Texas. In February 1945, it was reported his feet gave out on him and he was discharged from military service.

Wade returned to professional baseball in 1946 – this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He spent the year with the Anniston Rams of the Southeastern League and the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association. He joined the Chicago Cubs organization in 1947 and pitched for the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association where he was 17-11 and led the league in strike outs.

Wade was with the Cubs for spring training in 1948 and made his major league debut on April 30. He made just two appearances before spending the remainder of the season back at Nashville.

Wade – still in the minors – returned to the Dodgers organization in 1950 and pitched impressively for the Hollywood Stars for two seasons. In 1952, he made a return to the major leagues making 37 appearances for the Dodgers for an 11-9 record. The following season he was 7-5 in 32 games and made two appearances against the Yankees in the World Series.

Wade made 23 appearances for the Dodgers in 1954 before being selected off waivers by the St Louis Cardinals and making a further 13 appearances to finish the year. He was traded to the Pirates in January 1955 and pitched in 11 games – making his final major league appearance on June 12, 1955. 

Wade returned to the Pacific Coast League and pitched until 1962 with the Hollywood Stars, Salt Lake City Bees, Vancouver Mounties, Spokane Indians and San Diego Padres. The Dodgers signed Wade as a scout in 1962 and he was promoted to director of scouting in 1973, a post he held until his retirement after the 1990 season.

Ben Wade passed away after a long battle with cancer on December 2, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. He was 80.

Created August 29, 2008.


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