George Earnshaw - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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George Earnshaw

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: February 15, 1900 New York, NY
Date and Place of Death:    December 1, 1976 Little Rock, AR
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Commander
Military Unit:  US Navy
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

George L. Earnshaw was born on February 15, 1900, in New York City. A Swarthmore College graduate, he played tackle on the football team, pitched and played centerfield in baseball and, at 6-foot-4, was a natural for the basketball squad.

Earnshaw signed with the Baltimore Orioles of the Class AA International League in 1924, and was 7-0 in 13 games. The following year he won a remarkable 29 games with the Orioles and followed that with 22 wins in 1926. He won 17 games in 1927, and, despite slumping to a 3-5 record and 6.15 ERA at the beginning of 1928, the 28-year-old was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics in June 1928. Earnshaw made his major league debut against the Chicago White Sox on June 3, and was 7-7 in 26 appearances.

Earnshaw won 24 games with the Athletics in 1929, 22 in 1930 and 21 in 1931, dipping to 19 wins in 1932. He was traded to the White Sox in 1934, and continued to pitch in the major leagues through 1936, with the Dodgers and Cardinals. In 319 games over a nine-year major league career, Earnshaw won 127 games.

Earnshaw operated an insurance business in Philadelphia, after his playing career ended, and occasionally pitched for the Brooklyn Bushwicks semipro team.

Earnshaw was 41 years old when he entered military service in July 1941. He was based at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, first as assistant personnel officer and later as permanent officer of the day. He coached the 1942 Air Station baseball team to a record of 35 wins and 12 losses. In March 1943, Earnshaw requested sea duty and served as a gunnery officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) in the Pacific.

Lieutenant Commander Earnshaw received a special citation from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Pacific Fleet Commander, in 1944. The citation read: “For meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as gunnery officer of a United States aircraft carrier during operations against the enemy at Truk, April 29, 1944. With exceptional ability and judgment, and commendable calmness, he controlled and directed effective anti-aircraft fire against three fast, low-flying enemy torpedo planes, and contributed directly in saving his ship from serious damage.” He was awarded the Naval Commendation Medal.

Earnshaw remained in service after the war. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier Princeton, and left active duty in the summer of 1947, with the rank of commander. In February 1948, Earnshaw was awarded the Bronze Star by Vice Admiral James L. Kauffman, commandant of the Fourth Naval District, in ceremonies at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The citation was for meritorious service as a gunnery officer on the Yorktown during operations from February 5, 1944, to April 10, 1945. Battles specifically mentioned in the citation were those at the Marshalls, Truk, Marianas, New Guinea, the Philippines, Indo-China, Tokyo Bay and Okinawa.

Earnshaw later worked as a scout and minor league instructor for the Phillies. He was a coach with the team in 1949 and 1950, and retired from baseball in 1952, moving to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

George Earnshaw passed away in Little Rock, Arkansas, on December 1, 1976. He was 76 years old.

Date Added January 21, 2018

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