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Perk Smith

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: circa 1914 Conshohocken, PA
Date and Place of Death:    Unkown
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Robert E. "Perk" Smith, Jr., the son of Robert and Anna Smith, was born in 1914, in Conshohocken, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Perk Smith, a lean left-handed pitcher, helped Conshohocken High School win the Montgomery County section of the Class C Suburban League in 1929, and a further three titles, including a no-hitters against Springfield, Radnor and Media before garduating in 1932. Regarded as the greatest athlete to ever play at Conshohocken High School, he was scouted by numerous major league teams but it was the Yankees and Phillies who made the most noise, and Smith chose to go with the Phillies.

Immediately upon graduating he worked out regularly with the team in Philadelphia, and Phillies' preseident, Gerry Nugent, regarded Smith as one of the most likely-looking prospects he had seen in many seasons. Smith travelled west with the Phillies during the season and pitched in several exhibition games.

In 1933, Smith was playing semi-pro ball with the Conshohocken High Club, when, on the morning of May 16, he received a telegram asking him to report to the Richmond Colts of the Class B Piedmont League. Smith left by train later that day. What happened is unclear, but it appears he did not play professional baseball that season. By August, he was back in Conshohocken, playing with the High Club.

Over the next few years, he continued to play semi-pro baseball with the Spring Mill Fire Company in the local Twilight League. In 1938, aged 24, he gave professional baseball another try and hurled for Easton and Milford in the Class D Eastern Shore League. In 27 games, he was 9-6 with a 4.12 ERA.

Despite the decent showing, Smith was able to make more money playing semi-pro baseball together with having a decent job and returned to Conshohocken, where he worked at the W.C. Hamilton paper mill as a trimmer, and played ball with the W.C. hamilton team and the Lloyd Athletic Club in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Lloyd team was a renowned semi-pro club at the time that played against all the top touring negro teams of the time.

Smith, who was married to Irene (Bickhardt) and had a four-year-old daughter, Carole, entered military service in January 1944. By July of the same year, Corporal Smith was overseas in Europe. Just a month later, on August 18, 1944, he was seriously wounded in action in France, and hospitalized until November.

Promoted to sergeant during this time, he returned to limited service due to impaired vision caused by the wound, and worked with the Quartermaster Laundry Company in Germany.

After the war, Perk Smith moved with his family to Palo Alto, California.

Date Added December 31, 2017

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