Monday, May 31, 2010

In Military Service

Today we celebrate Memorial Day and remember the sacrifices that so many made for us. Instead of focusing on the front of some cards, I'd like to show you the backs.

On each of the following cards is a phrase that you don't see any more: "In Military Service." Players during the '50's and '60's faced the prospect of the mandatory draft and it wasn't unusual for a player miss a couple of seasons due to military service. By the Viet Nam era, players were able to get deferrals or National Guard service, which didn't interrupt their career as much. And by the early '70's the draft was gone. I wonder which major leaguer was the last to serve in the military?

Check out the cartoon on the back of Frank Kellert's card: "Frank had a close call when a troopship he was on was torpedoed in World War II."

Tom Poholsky and Cal Neeman were in the military during the years of the Korean War. I wonder if they saw action over there or remained stateside?

George Altman and Cuno Barragan each served during the mid-fifties.

To these players, and to all of the men and women who are serving now or served in the past, THANK YOU!


  1. Those were different times. Those ballplayers were real heroes.

  2. I like the way most 1952 Topps and '48-'52 Bowman cards so often list a short sentence about what the player did during The War. I think the last time I remember seeing anything about service was on the back of Bob Jones's 1985 Topps card, saying he'd served in Vietnam. Other players who served in The Nam include Garry Maddox (he grew a beard because exposure to chemicals there made him sensitive) and pitcher Bill Campbell (radio operator for an infantry squad).

  3. I'm not sure but I believe Vietnam vet Al Bumbry was the last to play in the big leagues - 1985.

  4. Garry Maddox (1972-86) was also a Vietnam veteran.

  5. I found this on Al Bumbry's page at Baseball Almanac: "Did you know that Al Bumbry was one of only six (Bill Campbell, Roy Gleason, Phil Hennigan, Jim Holt and Bobby Jones were the other five) Major League Baseball players to have served in the Vietnam War?"

    But I question its accuracy since the list doesn't include Garry Maddux.

  6. Thanks to all veterans (ballplayers or not).

    As my own way to pay tribute, I've been including a 'military service' label for all applicable players.

  7. Nice post and good info on those guys that served in Vietnam.