Home | About | Pre WWI | WWI | WWII | Korea | Vietnam | Post Vietnam | Non Wartime | Contact Us | Search

T.P. Hunter

 

Date and Place of Birth: November 3, 1917 Foard County, TX
Date and Place of Death:    July 21, 1944 Guam
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Pitcher
Rank: First Lieutenant
Military Unit: 9th Marines, Third Marine Division, US Marine Corps
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Thomas P. “T.P.” Hunter, Jr., was born on November 3, 1917 in Foard County, Texas. He later moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and attended Central High School before entering the University of Kansas in 1939. Playing for legendary coach, Phog Allen, T.P Hunter - a 6-foot-3-inch pitcher - played varsity baseball during 1941 and 1942. He was also on Allen’s 1941 basketball team that fashioned a 17-5 season record, won a Big Six co-championship and had a 2-1 NCAA Tournament appearance. Furthermore, Hunter was a member of the K Club and a student member of the athletic board. Phog Allen described Hunter as a, “modest, clean, genteel and resourceful boy, beloved by every classmate and athletic adversary, [who] was held in the highest esteem by all. He was buoyant, dominant yet modest and self-effacing.”

After graduation in 1942, Hunter joined the Marines and became a second lieutenant in November of that year at Quantico, Virginia. Serving in the Pacific area with the 9th Marines, Hunter was in combat at Guadalcanal and received a citation for meritorious service on Bougainville,

“Thought you might like to know a little about our game with the Japs in Bougainville,” Lt. Hunter wrote in a letter to Coach Allen dated January 1, 1944. “Well, everything was going fine until they got me and my boys in a hot box. I thought for a while they were going to call in the outfielders to get us out. Fortunately for us, we got out before they had time.

“I have called it a game, Doc, and to me that is just about how it seemed. The same is true for most of the boys that return. The bad part of the whole war is these boys who have to give their lives to win. I had some of those and for them it must have been more than a game."

On July 21, 1944, the game ended for First Lieutenant Hunter. He was killed in action at Guam.

During the war, Phog Allen wrote newsletters entitled “Jayhawk Rebounds”, which he sent to KU servicemen. "Somehow this is the most difficult letter that I have ever attempted to write,” he declared in the newsletter dated September 12, 1944. “Over a dozen times I have begun it and each time I have walked away from my desk because words fail me. I feel such a void. Something has gone from me. Your friend and mine -- good, old honest ‘Teep', T.P. Hunter (1st Lt. 9th Marines), was killed on Guam, July 21, 1944. And yet this morning he feels closer to me than at any moment that I have known him. Across the miles that span Lawrence and Guam, it seems so trivial. This thing we call death has brought him closer to me at this very moment than he has been for years. The glories of his life are magnified a hundredfold.

"A Chinese philosopher once said, ‘Life seems so unreal at times that I do not know whether I am living dreams or dreaming life.' The life here and the life hereafter seem so much a part of all of us that T.P.'s presence is manfest. He will live forever in our hearts. What more love can a man have that he lay down his life for his friend? He did that. ...

"T.P. Hunter was a great influence for good, whether on or off the athletic field. He was always living vicariously and constructively. (Son) Mit Allen and I were speaking regarding the untimely loss. Mit, always a realist, said spontaneously, ‘T.P. was perhaps too God-like to live long in this world. . . . It matters not how he got it (death), I'll bet he took it without a whimper as he took everything that came to him.'"

Hunter was posthumously elected Captain of the Kansas basketball team in 1946.

T.P. Hunter is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

Thanks to Mary Goodwin for identifying T.P. Hunter's place of birth.

Sources:
Lawrence Journal-World, August 18, 1944
Lawrence Journal-World, March 23, 2003
Kansas Jayhawk Baseball 2013 media Guide

Photo © 2009-2013 CynC on Find A Grave. Used with permission.

Date Added: November 11, 2013

Can you add more information to this biography and help make it the best online resourse for this player? Contact us by email

Read Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice Through The Years - an online year-by-year account of military related deaths of ballplayers

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice is associated with Baseball Almanac

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice is proud to be sponsored by

Big League Chew