Wilson Francis - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Wilson Francis

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 4, 1919 Corea, ME
Date and Place of Death:    March 6, 2014 Boothbay, ME
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Wilson G. "Lefty" Francis, the son of Guy and Mary Francis, was born on April 4, 1919, in the small fishing village of Corea, Maine. After one year at Winter Harbor High School, he transferred to Higgins Classical Institute in Charleston, Maine, to complete his high school education. Francis excelled as a left-handed pitcher at Higgins, and played in the Tri-County League, for Dover-Foxcroft Sebec Lakers. He went on to play minor league baseball in the Class D Virginia League for the Harrisonburg Turks in 1940, posting an 11-9 record in 31 appearances.

In March of 1941, Francis entered military service and was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. He continued to excel in sports, leading his company basketball team to a championship and pitching for the Fort Benning Doughboys. During his first season, he went 25-4, pitched two no-hitters and struck out 21 and 22 batters in two separate games. He was named Fort Benning Athlete of the Year in 1941. In December of 1942, he was accepted into Officers Candidate School and graduated as a second lieutenant.

In March of 1944, his unit was shipped to England, and three months later, headed to Normandy, France. While on a patrol through a small French village, Second Lieutenant Francis was struck in the left leg by machine gun fire. Doctors wanted to amputate his leg because of the severity of the wound, but he refused and spent more than a year at a veterans hospital. Francis was discharged from the Army in 1945.

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."

Francis worked as a lobster fisherman in Prospect Harbor after the war. He was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in December 1976.

Wilson Francis passed away on March 6, 2014, at Boothbay, Maine. He was 94 years old.

Date Added January 29, 2018

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