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Mike Dejan

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: January 13, 1915 Cleveland, OH
Date and Place of Death:    February 2, 1953 West Los Angeles, CA
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: Headquarters Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Michael D. Dejan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on January 13, 1915. He grew up in Los Angeles, California, and was signed by the New York Yankees as a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher in 1935.

Dejan's professional career began with the Joplin Miners of the Class C Western Association, where he was 1-8 with a 4.50 ERA, but hit .301 as a part-time first baseman. In 1936, he was 3-2 in eight appearances on the mound for the Miners, and hit .338 in a further 129 games in the outfield.

The 22-year-old advanced to the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League in 1937, where his hitting continued to outshine his pitching. He batted .301 in 133 games and clouted 13 home runs. Dejan was with Norfolk at the start of 1938, but after hitting .405 in 21 games, he joined the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Class B Western International League, where he batted .329 in 54 games. Dejan batted .317 with Wenatchee in 1939 and was purchased by Joe Engel for the Washington Senators.

Dejan started the 1940 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class A1 Southern Association, and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Arthur Luce and $30,000. He joined the Reds and made his major league debut on July 13, 1940, against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Dejan remained with the Reds until mid-August, appearing in 12 games and batting .188. He was optioned to the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association and finished the year as the league batting champion with a .371 average along with 18 home runs.

Dejan spent 1941 and 1942 with the Barons, batting .323 and .332 respectively. He entered military service in December 1942, and served in Europe as a sergeant wiht HQ Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, attached to the Sixth Army. Dejan was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat, and later earned an Oak Leaf cluster to add to the Bronze Star. On April 13, 1945, he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and evacuated to a hospital in France.

By January 1946, Dejan was back in the United States, and signed a contract with the Cincinnati Reds. However, he struggled to hit during spring training and was sold to the Pacific Coast League's San Diego Padres on April 2. The 31-year-old continued to struggle at the plate for the Padres and was released on May 25, after batting .105 in 18 games.

Dejan returned to professional baseball in 1947, agreeing to play from July to September with the Tucson Cowboys of the Class C Arizona-Texas League. In 59 games, he batted .393.

Mike Dejan went into business in Los Angeles. He died from Hodgkin's Disease on February 2, 1953, in West Los Angeles. He was just 38 years old and is buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Date Added December 31, 2017

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