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Monday
February 22, 2010
From the desk of Jeff Walters

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 -- 159th

Total Pitcher Index -- 40th

Career Shut-outs -- 37th

Pitching Category Leader (aka Black Ink) -- 26th

Total Baseball Ranking (1939) -- 25th

 

In addition to these Unusual Life-Time Career marks,

 

·        According to 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 All-Star Teams.

 

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 1940’s. – To that I ask -

 

What Does It Take

To Be Inducted

Into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?