February 28, 2006
During a recent move, I
rediscovered papers of my late grandfather. The papers were prepared by Special
Services Division Armed Forces of the United States, and describe in detail
an interesting (and historically accurate) tail of the USO Tour my grandfather
participated in 1944.
Although forgotten, this story (much like Buckys career)
exemplifies Baseball as America.
During WWII, the men at the front were without baseball. To
boost morale baseball went to the front. Mel Ott, Frank Fritch, Dutch Leonard
and Bucky Walters represented baseballs first wave of players and journalist
who dared to go to the front. As fait would have it this specific USO Tour
was nearly caught behind enemy lines during the pivotal Battle of the Bulge.
As determined by Total Baseball: The Official
Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, Buckys statistical achievements
are as follows:
All-Time Leaders Lifetime:
Total Baseball Rank
Total Pitcher Index
Pitching Category Leader (aka Black Ink)
Total Baseball Ranking (1939)
In addition to these Unusual Life-Time Career marks,
Total Baseball and Bill James
Presents STATS, INC. All-Time Baseball Sourcebook, Bucky Walters won three
(3) hypothetical Cy Young Awards given out to players for years which no
official award existed. The years were the same in each encyclopedia: 1939;
1940; and 1944. All pitchers but Bucky Walters - with three (3) or more
Hypothetical Cy Young Awards have been inducted.
Bucky Walters led the majors in victories over
the 15-year span from 1935 to 1949.
Bucky Walters was named to the 1937, 1939, 1940,
1941, 1942, 1944 National League All-Star Teams, and was appointed to the 1951
All-Star game as a coach. Bucky Walters participated in three (3) decades of
The Bucky Walters story is remarkable He began as a utility
player capable and willing to play any position. Through much of his pre major
league playing days, Bucky played shortstop and 3rd base, while
pitching every 4th game. He went 5 for 5 with 5 doubles before Tom
Yawkey picked him to play at Boston where he settled in at 3rd base.
He was a disappointment in Boston but was quickly traded to hometown Philly.
Philly would be where Buckys talent was exposed while learning to pitch in the
Baker Bowl. While playing with Philly, Bucky would become a valuable commodity
and in 1938 was traded to Cincinnati. It would be in Cincinnati that Bucky
would lead an understated 1939/1940-pennant winner and become the dominant
pitcher during WWII. Despite pre war dominance the Press never forgot
Buckys career spanned the war-diluted talent of the 1940s. To that I ask -
What Does It Take
To Be Inducted
Into the National
Baseball Hall of Fame?