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Felix Penso

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: August 19, 1915 Seattle, WA
Date and Place of Death:    August 20, 1993 Leander, TX
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield/Pitcher
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Felix J. Penso, Jr., the son of Italian immigrants, Felix and Mary Penso, was born on August 19, 1915, in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Queen Anne High School in Seattle, in 1934, and both Felix and his younger brother, John, played semi-pro baseball in and around Seattle following their high school days.

John, an infielder, signed with the Moultrie Packers of the Class D Georgia-Florida League in 1937, while Felix pitched his team to the Washington State semi-pro championship. In 1938, Felix signed with the Chicago White Sox organization and played for the Yakima Pippins of the Class B Western International League. With his brother playing for the Spokane Hawks in the same league, Felix pitched in only five games, but played 117 as an outfielder and batted .309. Good enough to be an all-star selection.

In 1939, the 23-year-old played 126 games with the Pippins, batted .275 and hit seven home runs. During the winter of 1939/1940, he played professional basketball in Seattle with Tigers' pitcher Fred Hutchinson. Penso split the 1940 season with the Pippins and the Vancouver Capilanos in the same league, and joined the Seattle Rainiers for spring training in 1941.

His time spent with the Rainiers was cut short, however, as military service beckoned in March. Penso was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where, on July 19, 1943, he combined with Cardinals' hurler, Johnny Grodzicki, to beat the Louisville Colonels, 6 to 5, in a relief fund benefit game.

Penso attained the rank of sergeant and served in Europe with the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 7th Armored Division. On September 15, 1944, the battalion crossed the Moselle River in France, and began an attack the following day on enemy positions at Sillegny. From the 16th to the 21st, the battalion suffered heavy casualties. Sergeant Penso was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge for his exemplary conduct in action against the enemy on September 19, 1944. He was later awarded the Bronze Star and received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

In August 1945, with the war in Europe over, Penso was able to focus on baseball again. Although he had played most of his professional career as an outfielder, he was proving very successful as a pitcher (as he had in his younger days) for the 7th Armored Division, hurling four victories to give them the first-half of the Seventh Army southern league title in Germany.

Penso was back in organized baseball in 1946, pitching for the Fort Worth Cats and the Tulsa Oilers in the Class AA Texas League. In 36 appearances he was 6-6 with a 2.54 ERA. He remained with Tulsa in 1947, working mostly as a relief pitcher, and joined the Austin Pioneers of the Class B Big State League mid-way through the 1948 season.

In 1949, the 33-year-old was signed by the Bryan Bombers of the Class C East Texas League as a player/manager and to help the young players to develop. But after a poor start to the season (the Bombers were in sixth place), he was released on May 21. Penso pitched for the Clovis Pioneers of the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League and the Longview Texans of the East Texas League, before retiring from the game zt tgher end of the 1949 season. Penso made his home in Austin, Texas, and during the 1950s, he played in a number of old-timers games.

Felix Penso passed away in Leander, Texas, on August 20, 1993. He was 78 years old.

Date Added January 6, 2018

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