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Charlie Gehringer

Hall of Famers at War


Date and Place of Birth: May 11, 1903 Fowlerville, MI
Date and Place of Death:    January 21, 1993 Bloomfield Hills, MI
Baseball Experience: Hall of Fame
Position: Second Base
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: United States

Charles L. “Charlie” Gehringer was born in Fowlerville, Michigan on May 11, 1903. After a year at the University of Michigan, where he played baseball and football, Gehringer began his professional baseball career in the Michigan-Ontario League in 1924, and made his first appearance with the Detroit Tigers the same year. 

In 19 seasons with the Tigers, Gehringer was a six-time all-star, played in the 1935 World Series and led the American League with a .371 batting average in 1937, earning MVP honors.

Gehringer entered military service with the Navy in September 1942. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in December 1942 and was appointed head baseball coach of the St. Mary's Naval Pre-Flight School team in California for the 1943 season. Included on the team was former major leaguer Al Niemiec.

When Gehringer arrived at Jacksonville NAS in 1944, he told his commanding officer that he wanted to just coach the baseball team and not play. He was promptly told that he would play, and if he didn't, he would be sent so far they wouldn't know where to find him. Consequently, Gehringer played and managed the Jacksonville NAS Fliers.

In Donald Honig's Baseball When the Grass was Real, Gehringer recalled how seriously the commanding officers took baseball. "Once we had a game scheduled at Montgomery Air Base, in Alabama, and they came and picked us up and flew us to Montgomery for the game and then flew us back again."

When Gehringer had entered military service in 1942, he was seemingly finished as a player. He was 39 years old and finding it difficult to keep in shape. However, when he came out of the service in November 1945, having attained the rank of lieutenant commander in October of that year, he was in great shape and, in hindsight, wished he played a couple more years. Instead, he became wealthy through an auto accessories business in Michigan.

Gehringer later served as general manager and vice-president of the Tigers. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.

Charlie Gehringer passed away on January 21, 1993 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was 89 years old.

Date Added June 8, 2020

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