Cliff Aberson - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Cliff Aberson

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: August 28, 1921 Chicago, IL
Date and Place of Death:    June 23, 1973 Vallejo, CA
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: Company L, 314th Infantry Regiment of the 97th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Clifford A. Aberson was born on August 28, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois. He was a three-sport standout at Senn High School in Chicago, and had a trial with Moline of the Three-I League in 1940. Later that year he attended Philip K. Wrigley's baseball school in Chicago, and was awarded a contract to play with Janesville of the Class D Wisconsin State League in 1941. A right-handed hitting outfielder, Aberson played 96 games at Janesville and batted .232 with 14 home runs, Back with Janesville in 1942, Aberson raised his batting average to .281 and hit 22 home runs.

Aberson entered military service in 1943, and was stationed at Keesler Field, Mississippi. While playing football at Keesler, he attracted the attention of Herman Rohrig, ex-Packer and coach of the Keesler Field football team. Rohrig recommended Aberson to Packers’ coach Curley Lambeau, who signed him as soon as he left military service in spring 1946. But, before that could happen, Aberson was sent to Europe in 1945, with Company L, 314th Infantry Regiment of the 97th Infantry Division, and participated in the Central Europe Campaign. He was awarded a Bronze Star medal, and earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and a battle star. He was discharged March 22, 1946, at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

Aberson joined the Green Bay Packers and played halfback in 1946, appearing in 10 games. He carried the ball 48 times and threw 14 passes. But, it was his baseball playing that proved more successful. In 1947, playing for the Des Moines Bruins, he led the Class A Western League with 20 homers and was batting .305, when he was called up by the Chicago Cubs.

Aberson played 47 games for the Cubs that year and batted .279 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. "I actually prefer to play football," Aberson told The Sporting News on September 24, 1947. "But the future in baseball is much greater, and your playing days should be longer. I didn't hesitate a minute when the opportunity came to give up football for a chance in the majors."

He played for the Pacific Coast League's Los Angeles Angels in 1948, hitting 34 home runs, and was back with the Cubs for 12 games that year. He made a further four appearances in 1949 to end his major league career.

In 1950, Aberson played for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, the Mobile Bears of the Southern Association, and the St. Paul Saints of the American Association. At the end of the season, he retired from baseball to try out for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League, but didn't make the team. He re-appeared in the minors in 1954, playing 20 games for the Pueblo Dodgers of the Class A Western League. Aberson later worked in real estate and lived in Fairfield, California.

Cliff Aberson died on June 23, 1973, at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo, California, following a long struggle with cancer. He was 51 years old and is buried at Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California.

Date Added January 25, 2018

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