Dick Lang - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Dick Lang

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: December 14, 1917 Selma, CA
Date and Place of Death:    October 1, 2001 Ventura, CA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Richard W. "Dick" Lang was born on December 14, 1917, in Selma, California. Lang, a left-handen hitting outfielder played for Long Beach Poly High School, helping them defeat Escondido for the Southern California (CIF) championship in 1936. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals that year, while his older brother, Don, signed with the Chicago Cubs. Dick Lang played 68 games for the Huntington Redbirds of the Class C Mid-Atlantic League, batting .234, while Don hit .301 for the Ponca City Angels of the Class C Western Association. Dropping down to Class D ball for 1937, Dick played 98 games for the Albuquerque Cardinals of the Arizona-Texas League and batted .374 (second best in the league) and led the circuit with 109 RBIs, while Don remained with Ponca City and hit .333 with 10 home runs. Don was with the Jacksonville Jax of the Arizona-Texas League for most of 1938, batting .311, and receiving a 37-game trial with the Houston Buffs of the Class A1 Texas League. Meanwhile, older brother, Don, was tearing up the Eastern League, hitting .400 after 25 games with the Albany Senators, receiving a call-up to the Class AA International League's Syracuse Chiefs. After hitting .375 in 11 games with the Chiefs, Don received the call from the Cubs, making his major league debut on July 4, against the Pirates.

Dick Lang, undoubtedly wanting to follow in his brother's footsteps, had a strong 1939 season with the Springfield Cardinals of the Western Association, batting .323 in 139 games, with 21 home runs and 130 RBIs (second best in the league), while Don spent the year with the Indianapolis Indians. Dick made the jump to the Pacific Coast League for 1940, joining the Sacramento, but broke his leg the day before opening day. He played 46 games at the tail-end of the season batted .267.

A promising career lay ahead but military service beckoned in March 1941. Lang served in Europe and was badly wounded in action in France on January 10, 1945.

Dick's wounds ended his career, although he made a valiant effort with the Solons in 1946, appearing in 11 games. However, he still managed to play baseball with the Knights of Columbus team in Ventura. "I had six years of enjoyable baseball," he reflected.

Lang married Dorothy Becker in May 1948. He coached senior Babe Ruth League baseball, and his son, Rick, played three years in the Phillies organization, while another son, Bob, was an outstanding high school pitcher at Santa Clara High.

Older brother, Don, played in the minors until 1950, with one more season in the major leagues, playing 117 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1948.

Dick Lang passed away on October 1, 2001, in Ventura, California. He was 83 years old.

Date Added February 4, 2018

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