Steve Souchock - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Steve Souchock

Ballplayers Decorated in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: March 3, 1919 Yatesboro, PA
Date and Place of Death:    July 28, 2002 Westland, MI
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: First Base
Rank: First Sergeant
Military Unit: Company B, 691st Tank Destroyer Battalion, 87th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Stephen Souchock was born on March 3, 1919. in Yatesboro, Pennsylvania. He was working on the assembly line at the Ford factory, in Dearborn, Michigan, and playing semi-pro football for the Dearborn Club in 1938. But it was his baseball playing that was attracting the most attention. He was signed by the Greensburg Senators of the Class D Penn State Association in 1939, after playing 39 games and batting .287, he was sold to the Yankees' organization and assigned to the Easton Yankees of the Class D Eastern Shore League, where he hit .257 in 65 games.

In 1940, the 6-foot-2-inch first baseman hit 24 home runs and batted .310 with the Akron Yankees of the Class C Middle-Atlantic League. He advanced to the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League in 1941, and was with the Binghamton Triplets of the Class A Eastern League, batting .315 and taking league MVP honors in 1942.

The Yankees’ were looking at Souchock as being a possible replacement for Buddy Hassett at first base in 1943, but he entered military service in January of that year. He trained at Camp Lexington, Louisiana, during 1943 and 1944, playing just 15 games for the camp team before being sent overseas to Europe with Company B of the 691st Tank Destroyer Battalion. He spent 16 months in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.

First Sergeant Souchock earned a Bronze Star during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, as commander of the five-man crew in an M36 tank destroyer, knocking out a couple of German tanks with their 90mm gun. He returned home with five battle stars late in 1945. "The war cost me three important years," said Souchock, "as it did many ballplayers."

Souchock was discharged from military service on December 6, 1945, at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Despite having been away from baseball for three years, he made his major league debut with the Yankees on May 25, and played 47 games, batting .302 with two home runs.

During an eight-season major league career, Souchock also played for the White Sox and Tigers. In 1953, his best season in the big leagues, he batted .302 in 89 games with 46 RBIs and 11 home runs. A broken wrist in 1954, ended his effectiveness and he retired from playing in 1956.

Souchock remained in baseball as a spring camp instructor for the Yankees, and he scouted fro the team from 1962 through 1974. He was also a scout for the Detroit Tigers from 1988 through 1996.

Steve Souchock passed away on July 28, 2002, in Westland, Michigan. He was 83 years old.

Date Added January 26, 2018

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