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Bill Marzalek

 

Date and Place of Birth: February 12, 1918 Emsworth, PA
Date and Place of Death:    October 6, 1942 Fort Huachuca, AZ
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: 504th Field Artillery US Army
Area Served: United States

Bill Marzalek was born William A. Marszalek, to Polish immigrant parents in Emsworth, Pennsylvania, on February 12, 1918, and grew up at the Holy Family Orphanage in Emsworth. He went on to become the ace of the Duquesne University varsity team and the Peter’s Club of the Pittsburgh City League, before signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization following graduation from Duquesne in June 1941.

The Pirates assigned the hard-throwing right-hander to the Oil City Oilers of the Class D Penn State League and he made his professional debut with the club on June 30, 1941, hurling the Oilers to a 5-4 victory over the Beaver Falls Bees. Marzalek allowed only six hits that day and contributed a two-run home run. Among his Oilers teammates was 19-year-old rookie Al Gionfriddo, who will always be remembered for his play in the 1947 World Series against the Yankees when he caught DiMaggio's drive to left field in Game 6, saving an 8-6 win for the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium.

Quiet and unassuming, he became one of the best liked Oilers players among the crowds at Oil City’s Ramage-Hasson Field, and he finished the season with a 7-5 won-loss record and a 4.40 ERA in 16 outings, along with a .271 batting average (16-for-59). One of his finest performances of the year proved to be among his last. In the first game of the post-season Shaughnessy playoffs with the Butler Yankees, Marzalek scattered six hits and struck out 11 in leading the Oilers to a 7-1 win (Butler went on to win the series three games to two).

With a successful first season of professional baseball still fresh in his mind, Marzalek entered military service with the Army at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, on October 16, 1941. Seven weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Second Lieutenant Marzalek was assigned to the 504th Field Artillery at Fort Huachuca, in Sierra Vista, southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico. On October 6, 1942, while on maneuvers, Marzalek lost his life in a training accident.

"His never say die spirit,” announced the Oil City Blizzard upon learning of his death, “regardless of what the odds were was a trait which made him popular with the local baseball fans."

Requiem mass for Marzalek, who was survived by four brothers and two sisters, was held on October 12 at St. Leocadia’s Church in Wilmerding. He is buried at St. Mary's Polish Cemetery in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

Two years after Marzalek’s death, on November 4, 1944, former Oilers teammate Mike Sambolich, who had batted .312 in 1941, was killed in Belgium when the jeep he was driving collided with a taxiing airplane.

Year

Team

League

Class

G

IP

ER

BB

SO

W

L

ERA

1941 Oil City Penn State Assoc D 16 119 58 62 96 7 5 4.39

 

Fort Huachuca

Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where Bill Marzalek lost his life in a training accident on October 6, 1942

Date Added February 1, 2012 June 16, 2014

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