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Hank Gowdy
Born: August 24, 1889(1889-08-24)
Columbus, Ohio
Died: August 1, 1966 (aged 76)
Columbus, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 13, 1910 for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
August 29, 1930 for the Boston Braves
Career statistics
Batting average     .270
Home runs     21
Runs batted in     322
Career highlights and awards

Henry Morgan Gowdy (August 24, 1889 - August 1, 1966) was a professional baseball catcher and a first baseman who played in the major leagues for the New York Giants and the Boston Braves.[1] He was best known for being the first active major leaguer to enlist for service in World War I, and for being a member of the 1914 "Miracle" Boston Braves.[2]

He made his major league debut for John McGraw's New York Giants in 1910, before being traded to the Boston the next year.[1] He didn't have much playing time, and spent the majority of the 1913 season with the Buffalo Bisons in the International League. In 1914, Gowdy became the Braves regular catcher in a year that saw them go from last to first in two months, becoming the first team to win a pennant after being in last place on the Fourth of July.[3] He batted .545 with one home run in the historic upset of Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.[2][4][5]

He saw more playing time in subsequent seasons, but when World War I broke out, he became the first major leaguer to sign up.[2] With the Ohio National Guard, he saw considerable action in France with the 166th Infantry Regiment, including some of the worst trench fighting in the war.[2] When he returned in 1919, he got his old job as a catcher back, but not before going on a speaking tour of the United States, detailing his war experiences.[2] Four years later, he was traded back to the Giants, where he played in the 1923 and 1924 World Series, but his heroics weren't repeated, as he committed a costly error which led to the game-winning run against the Washington Senators.[6] In 1925, the Giants released him. Four years later, he made a comeback with Braves, albeit with very limited playing time. He then became a coach with the Giants, Braves, and the Reds.[2]

When the United States entered World War II, Gowdy enlisted again at the age of 53, and was promoted to major. In December 1944, he returned to Fort Benning, where he served as Chief Athletic Officer.[2] The baseball field at Fort Benning bears his name.[2] He returned to coaching in 1946 with the Reds, and he even served as manager for four games at the end of the season.[7] By 1948, he had retired from baseball.

Gowdy shares (with Ross Youngs) the record for most Hall of Fame induction attempts. He has received votes in 17 different years, never being elected to the Hall of Fame. Current custom limits the times a player can appear on the ballot to 15. Youngs was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 17th time, so Gowdy holds the record for most unsuccessful induction attempts.[8] Gowdy's reputation as a defensive stand out is enhanced because of the era in which he played. In the Deadball Era, catchers played a huge defensive role, given the large number of bunts and stolen base attempts, as well as the difficulty of handling the spitball pitchers who dominated pitching staffs.

Gowdy died at his home in Columbus, OH at age 76.[9]

External links


Preceded by
Bill McKechnie
Cincinnati Reds Manager
Succeeded by
Johnny Neun


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