Frank Baumholtz - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Frank Baumholtz

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 7, 1918 Midvale, OH
Date and Place of Death:    December 14, 1997 Winter Springs, FL
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Lieutenant
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: Atlantic and Pacific Theater of Operations

Frank C. Baumholtz was born on October 7, 1918 in Midvale, Ohio. He was a standout athlete at Midvale High School, and gained fame at Ohio University as an All-American basketball player, but signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1941. In his only pre-war season, he played 19 games for the Riverside Reds of the Class C California League, before the team folded, and joined the Ogden Reds of the Class C Pioneer League, where he played 74 games and batted .283.

On October 8, 1941, Baumholtz enlisted in the Navy, with a view to completing his one year's service and returning to baseball as soon as possible. However, two months after enlisting, the United States was at war and Baumholtz would serve for the duration.

In the spring of 1942, he was at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois, where he played baseball for Mickey Cochrane. “He [Cochrane]said he'd make a big leaguer out of me," said Baumholtz. He was commissioned an ensign on July 2, 1942, and left Great Lakes for the Armed Guard School at Naval Station Treasure Island in San Francisco. Ensign Baumholtz spent much of late 1942 through early 1944, in charge of a gun crew on merchant ships making convoy runs across the Atlantic.

In January 1944, Baumholtz was sent to the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami, Florida, and then trained with the amphibious forces. As a lieutenant, he was put in charge of USS LCI(L)-633 - a seagoing amphibious assault ship - whichserved in the Pacific Theater, providing support for the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The 633 took a hit from Japanese artillery at Iwo Jima, causing damage to the stern but no casualties. He was also just 1,500 yards from the USS Birmingham, when a kamikaze hit the cruiser on May 4, 1945, killing 47 crew members. Baumholtz was given command of LCI Group 61 at the end of the war, and was discharged from service with a Bronze Star in December 1945.

Baumholtz played professional basketball with the Youngstown Bears of the National Basketball League during the winter of 1945/46, and was back playing baseball in the spring of 1947, playing for Columbia, the Reds' affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League. He batted .343 in 119 games, leading the league with 43 doubles. During the winter of 1946/47, he played professional basketball for the Cleveland Rebels of the Basketball Association of America, but still wanted a shot at major league baseball. “I want to give baseball one more chance," he said in February 1947. "It’s no use batting around the minors. With the years lost by the war I don’t want a career of minor league ball now."

The 28-year-old got his opportunity in 1947. He spent the entire season with the Reds and played 151 games, batting .283 and leafing the league with 711 plate appearances. In 1948, he played 128 games with Cincinnati, and was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June 1949. He spent 1950 with the Pacific Coast League's Los Angeles Angels, but after batting .379. he was back with the Cubs and remained with the team through 1955. Purchased by the Phillies for 1956, he played 76 games and batted .270, but was released in June of the following year.

After baseball, Frank Baumholtz worked for the John Morrell Meat Company, and then Marquardt Brothers Inc. He died of complications from colon and liver cancer, aged 79, on December 14, 1997, at a nursing home in Winter Springs, Florida.


The amphibious assault ship commanded by Lt. Frank Baumholtz

Date Added January 26, 2018

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