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Ernie Ford

 

Date and Place of Birth: February 4, 1919 Watertown, MA
Date and Place of Death:    May 4, 1945 Corpus Christi, TX
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: First Lieutenant
Military Unit: US Marine Corps
Area Served: Pacific Theater/United States

Ernest B. Ford, Jr., was a “huge broth of a lad with a heart as big as his body,” who signed with the Boston Red Sox in May 1942. Ford graduated from Watertown High School in 1938, and enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

It was the year of the Great New England Hurricane, and his father was working for the Watertown Fire Department at the time. The hurricane claimed nearly 700 lives and his father suffered injuries to which he would succumb on January 2, 1939.

Pitching for the Holy Cross Crusaders in 1940, Ford had a 3–1 won-loss record and 2.25 ERA. In 1941, due to illness, Ford pitched very little, making only one start in which he limited Boston College to three hits in a 13–1 win. In 1942, he returned in style and held the Boston Red Sox to four hits and one earned run in five innings of the annual exhibition game. His performance against a major league team created a great deal of interest among East Coast clubs who vied for his services. “The Red Sox bid high to get Ernie Ford, the Holy Cross southpaw, for their Louisville farm,” reported Bill Kling in the Lowell Sun in May 1942. “It can be taken for granted that the Crusader star ... made the best possible bargain. He first listened to the offers of Paul Kritchell, who scouts the New England sector for the Yankees, and the Dodgers’ Heinie Groh.”

In June 1942, Ford joined the Greensboro Red Sox, champions of the Class B Piedmont League that year, and was 5–6 with a 3.03 ERA. That was to be his only year in professional baseball. In October 1942, he enlisted in the Marines, and was at Quantico, Virginia, where he was commissioned as an officer in February 1943.

Ford had the chance to play some baseball at Quantico, where his teammates included major leaguers Ted Lyons and Ike Pearson, but he was soon serving in the Pacific. Overseas for 18 months, First Lieutenant Ford was decorated for bravery and suffered a bayonet wound while fighting the Japanese in the Marshall Islands. He returned to the United States to recuperate in 1944. Ford transferred to flight duty in late 1944, and began training as a pilot. Due to receive his wings in June 1945, he was killed in a plane crash at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, on May 4, 1945. He was survived by his wife, Cecelia, and their two children, Michelle Ann, and Roberta Joan, and was buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Date Added January 29, 2012

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