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Robert Troy

 

Date and Place of Birth: August 27, 1888 Wurzach, Germany
Date and Place of Death:    October 7, 1918 Evacuation Hospital 8, Petit Maujouy, France
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: 80th Division, US Army
Area Served: France

Robert Troy was born in Germany and made just one appearance in the major leagues in 1912. Six years later he was on the battlefields of France, fighting against the people from the country of his birth.

Robert G. “Bun” Troy, the son of Mr. and Mrs. August Troy, was born on August 27, 1888 in Wurzach (now Bad Wurzach), a small town in southern Germany. He grew up in McDonald, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. Pitching for the Knoxville County team in 1909, Troy had a tryout with the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the season and was signed in October. For 1910, he was sent to the Johnstown Johnnies of the Class B Tri-State League but, despite winning his only game, he was released. "He had the speed and curves," explained the Sporting Life, "but lacked control, and acted too much like an amateur on the ball field." He returned to the Knoxville team before signing later in the year with the McKeesport Tubers of the Class C Ohio-Pennsylvania League.

At 6-foot-4, and probably the tallest player in the league, Troy had an unmemorable rookie campaign with the Tubers; in 17 games he had 6 wins against 8 losses. McKeesport didn’t field a team for 1911 and Troy, together with six other players, was sold to the Wheeling Stogies of the Class B Central League. He didn’t stay long in Wheeling and returned to the Ohio-Pennsylvania League with the Steubenville Stubs for a second forgettable season. In 20 appearances he again had 6 wins but this time suffered 11 defeats.

In 1912, 23-year-old Troy joined the Adrian Lions of the Class D Southern Michigan League and truly showed his ability as a pitcher. In 43 games he led the league with a 23-14 record (he also led the league with 268 strikeouts), helping the Lions clinch the league title. Detroit Tigers’ owner Frank Navin, who hailed from Adrian, had been keeping an eye on Troy and when the Lions’ season ended he bought Troy’s contract and called him up to Detroit.

On September 15, 1912, Robert Troy made his one and only major league appearance, starting for the Tigers against Washington. A good crowd was on hand at Detroit’s Navin Field that afternoon to see the great Walter Johnson of Washington whose record 16-game winning streak had been snapped a few days earlier. With 25-year-old Ty Cobb in centerfield for the Tigers, Troy matched Johnson pitch-for-pitch and shutout the Senators for six innings, protecting a 3-0 lead. But in the seventh inning he got in trouble. Against Troy and Ed Willett – helped by some sloppy fielding - six runs were put across before the inning was over and the game was called after eight innings because of darkness with the Senators up, 6-3 (Cobb, who batted .409 that season, was 0-for-3 on the day).

Hugely disappointed with losing his first big league start, attributing much of the blame to poor support during crucial innings, he jumped the team and returned home to McDonald.

Troy was assigned to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association for 1913, who, in turn returned him to Adrian in the Southern Michigan League, where he enjoyed another outstanding season. Again he won 23 games in 43 appearances as the Lions finished in second place behind the Battle Creek Crickets.

In 1914, the 25-year-old was with the Pittsfield Electrics of the Class B Eastern Association where he was 19-13 in 36 games, leading the league with 212 strikeouts. That was Troy’s last season in organized baseball. He signed with Pittsfield for 1915, but the league didn’t make it to opening day. There are reports of Troy pitching semi-pro baseball for Worcester, Johnstown, Canonsburg and McKeesport over the next two seasons.

By 1917, Troy was in military service. As an army sergeant with the 80th Division he served in France, fighting against men from the country of his birth. He was fatally shot in the chest on the battlefield during the Meuse Argonne campaign. He died on October 7, 1918 at Evacuation Hospital Eight, a mobile hospital which, at the time was located in an area referred to as Petit Maujouy, midway between the hamlets of Ancemont and Senoncourt, six miles southeast of Verdun.

Sergeant Robert Troy was buried in France but his body was returned to the United States in 1921. Together with the remains of two other soldiers, he arrived in Monessen, Pennsylvania on August 5 and was transported to McDonald where his funeral was held at the First Presbyterian Church, followed by burial at Robinson's Run Cemetery in McDonald.

Robert Troy

Bun Troy's grave at Robinson's Run Cemetery in McDonald, Pennsylvania

Robert Troy

A close up of the inscription included on Bun Troy's grave

Sources
Sporting Life Oct 2, 1909
New Castle News June 3, 1910
Sporting Life June 4, 1910
Fort Wayne Sentinel Feb 1, 1911
Salt Lake Tribune Sept 16, 1912
Fort Wayne Sentinel Sept 25, 1912
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette May 17, 1913
Syracuse Daily Journal March 15, 1915
Coshocton Daily Tribune June 2, 1916
Coshocton Daily Tribune June 10, 1916
Monessen Daily Independent Aug 6, 1921

Date Added July 13, 2012 Updated August 8, 2013

 

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