Bill Evans - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Bill Evans

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: March 25, 1919 Quanah, TX
Date and Place of Death:    November 30, 1983 Grand Junction, CO
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: Company A, 385th Infantry Regiment, 76th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

William L. “Bill” Evans, Jr., was born in Quanah, Texas, on March 25, 1919. His family moved to Fruita, Colorado, when he was 18, and he graduated from Fruita High School. Evans began his professional baseball career with the Cheyenne Indians of the Class D Western League in 1941, and was 10-13 with a 4.71 earned run average in 33 games. The 6-foot-2 right-hander spent most of 1942 with the Burlington Bees of the Class D Bi-State League, and was 8-6 with a 3.65 ERA. He entered military service on September 28, 1942.

In 1944, Evans was at the 76th Infantry Division’s combat training facility at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, where he played baseball with the 76th Infantry Division Onaways. His teammates includes Bama Rowell and Cecil Travis, and the team captured the Wisconsin State semi-pro championship in 1944.

Sergeant Evans was sent overseas with Company A, 385th Infantry Regiment of the 76th Infantry Division, at the end of 1944, arriving in Southampton, England. He saw combat in France and Germany in 1945, and was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star. After the war's end he had time to play baseball. "Bill played lots of baseball in Germany," Evans' widow, Melba, explained. "He was based in Hof, Germany, but played in Nuremberg for the Third Army. His team also played in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Czechoslovakia.” Evans teammates in Europe included Clarence Maddern, Ken Trinkle and Bama Rowell.

Following his discharge in February 1946, Evans returned to baseball and reported to the Amarillo Gold Sox of the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League, where he struck out 18 in the season opener against the Borger Gassers and posted an outstanding 26-7 won-loss record for the year. he slumped to 4-17 with the Little Rock Travelers of the Class AA Southern Association in 1947, but bounced back with a 17-12 record and 2.55 ERA for the Muskegon Clippers of the Class A Central League.

Evans made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 1949, making four appearances before being assigned to the Southern Association's Memphis Chicks, where he was 8-10 in 23 games. He joined the Pacific Coast League's Sacramento Solons in 1950, and was back in the major leagues in 1951, making nine relief appearances for the Boston Red Sox. It was his last look at the big leagues, but Evans continued to pitch in the minors through 1955, including a 16-13 season with the Pacific Coast League's Seattle Rainiers in 1953.

In the years after baseball, Evans operated Bill Evans Tenneco Service in Grand Junction, Colorado, selling automobile accessories. Bill Evans passed away on November 30, 1983, at St. Mary Hospital in Grand Junction. He was 64 years old and is buried at Orchard Mesa Cemetery in Grand Junction.

Date Added January 23, 2018

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