Richard Foley - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Richard Foley

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 1, 1924 Stamford, CT
Date and Place of Death:    May 29, 1989 Needham, MA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Catcher
Rank: Private First-Class
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Richard T. Foley was born on October 1, 1924, in Stamford, Connecticut. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers organization and assigned to the Olean Oilers of the Class D PONY League. However, military service intervened before the young catcher had an opportunity to play.

Inducted in March 1943, Foley served in Europe with the army and was seriously wounded by shrapnel to the spine in the Netherlands. This resulted in him being paralyzed from the waist down.

Foley was returned to the United States on Thanksgiving 1944, and underwent treatment at Cushing General Hospital in Framingham, Massachusetts.

In March 1945, Branch Rickey, president of the Dodgers, and Branch Rickey Jr., director of the Brooklyn club's farm teams, sent to every one of their players in service a leather wallet each bearing the receiver's initials. Foley was among the 300 players, scouts and those who had held office jobs, who received a wallets. The Rickey's soon received a repley from Foley:

Just a few lines to let you know I received that swell wallet and season pass that you sent me for Christmas, and I want to thank you very much for them.

I am coming along all right so far. I'm able to get up in a wheelchair now and in another month or so I hope to start to learn how to walk again.

Well, Mr. Rickey, that's all, I guess, and thanks again for the swell Christmas gift.

Most sincerely yours,

Richard Foley


Foley remained at Cushing General Hospital until 1946. During that time he helped organize the first wheelchair basketball team, the Cushing Clippers, later the New England Clippers. He settled in Massachusetts, and worked as an administrative assistant for the Needham Fire Department from 1952. He was a founder of the region's first wheelchair basketball team. He helped organize other wheelchair teams around the country and played the sport for 35 years. In 1968, he was voted the New England League's most valuable player.

In 1948, Shotwell was presented with a lifetime pass to all major and minor league games. George M. Trautman, president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs announced in May of that year, that passes would be made available to "all players whose careers were ended because of injuries or illness received in the line of duty."

Richard Foley passed away at the Lahey Clinic in Needham, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1989. He was 64 years old.

The Richard T. Foley, Sr., Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a member of the Needham High School graduating class who has: 1) C average or better, 2) has received a varsity letter in baseball and/or softball, 3) has been accepted at an institution of higher learning.

Date Added January 30, 2018

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