Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 9, 2007
BASEBALL: Hank Bauer, RIP

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Postwar Yankees star Hank Bauer has died, at age 84. Yes, out of respect for Bauer I haven't even called them the Hated Yankees, for once. Anything and everything that was ever good about the Yankees was true of Hank Bauer.

Bauer was a tough guy, a class act who didn't complain about being consigned to a semi-platoon role (as were many talented Yankees in those days) for much of Casey Stengel's tenure (he topped 600 plate appearances only twice), often sharing time with Gene Woodling. He hit safely in 17 straight World Series games, a record untouched to this day. He was also, as George Steinbrenner put it today, "an emblem of a generation" of ballplayers, the men who came back grizzled and already in their mid-twenties to play big league baseball after the war.

He was lucky to come back at all:

Bauer enlisted in the Marines shortly after Pearl Harbor and saw action in a number of battles in the Pacific, including Okinawa and Guadalcanal, according to Hall of Fame archives. He earned two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Bauer was wounded at Okinawa, hit in the left thigh by shrapnel in his 53rd day on the island.

"We went in with 64 and six of us came out," Bauer said.

After his playing days, Bauer became a manager, collecting his eighth World Series ring by leading the 1966 Orioles to the first World Championship in franchise history.

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"I am truly heartbroken," [Yogi] Berra said in a statement issued by the Yankees. "Hank was a wonderful teammate and friend for so long. Nobody was more dedicated and proud to be a Yankee, he gave you everything he had."

Rest in peace.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:12 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

When I lived in Virginia Beach he was occasionally interviewed on the local sports radio show. I can't remember what his connection to the area was, maybe one of his kids lived around there. Anyways, he was always a great interview. You could just hear in his voice that there was no BS about the guy. He was gruff in the way some of us may remember our fathers or uncles from that generation. Not a jerk, but not going to put up with anyones BS.

A lot of people don't realize how good a manager he was. He won a WS with a young Baltimore team.

Posted by: largebill at February 10, 2007 9:57 AM

Wow. I knew he was a Marine, and I think I'd read that he saw action. But I had no idea he was at Guadelcanal & Okinawa! Those battles were what, two years apart?

Just the odds of surviving both those actions, and whatever came between, were slim. Tough guy.

As to baseball, guys like Bauer, Woodling, McDougald, Brown & Howard were big keys to the 2nd wave of the Yankee dynasty: '47-'58.

Posted by: Mike at February 10, 2007 11:20 AM
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