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Glenn Sanford

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 17, 1919 Clare, MI
Date and Place of Death:    November 6, 1943 Suisun Bay, CA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: 380th Fighter Squadron, 363rd Fighter Group USAAF
Area Served: United States

Glenn was a congenial young man with a pleasing personality and a very promising future in his chosen field of baseball, and his many friends join the family in their deep sorrow of today, which gives promise of mellowing in the days to come with the knowledge that he gave his all for the noble purpose of bringing justice and freedom again to this earth that the generations to come may not know the grief of those who will pay tribute to him.
Clare Sentinel, November 26, 1943

Glenn F. Sanford, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick C. Sanford of Clare, Michigan, attended Clare High School where he played basketball and football, and was an outstanding left-handed pitcher who helped guide the varsity team to the 1934 district tournament finals.

Sanford enrolled at Hillsdale College, Michigan, in September 1937, and pitched for the varsity team his freshman year, attracting the attention of Chicago Cubs scout, Dick Hallett. However, Sanford's father convinced him to remain in school where he developed a reputation as an outstanding athlete in baseball and basketball. "Sanford is regarded as the number one hurler and has provided the students and fans with some fine exhibitions of pitching," claimed the college yearbook.

His three-year college record included a no-hitter, a three-hitter, and a 12-inning tie against Southern Michigan prison. Sanford also played summer baseball with Post Products of Battle Creek, Michigan. The team won the state amateur title in 1938 and went to the finals of the National Amateur Tournament where they were beaten by Linden, New Jersey.

In 1940, professional baseball came calling again in the form of the Vancouver Capilanos of the Class B Western International League. This time, Sanford could not resist and joined the team in Sunnyside, Washington, for spring training. The Capilanos assigned him to the St. Joseph Autos of the Class C Michigan State League where he pitched a handful of games before joining the Fulton Tigers of the Class D May League in June. Sanford posted a 14-9 won-loss record with a 4.02 earned run average in sharing pitching duties with Rufe Gentry, who would go on to win 12 games for Detroit in 1944.

Turning his back on professional baseball, Sanford volunteered for military service and was inducted into the Army on February 13, 1941, and while serving with a coastal artillery battery at Camp Haan, California, he often got the opportunity to limber up his pitching arm for the base team. Late in the year, he applied for pilot training with the Army Air Force and was released from service to await a position. He used the time to make a return to minor league baseball and pitched for the Pittsfield Electrics of the Class C Canadian-American League in 1942, appearing in six games for a 2-4 record before beginning training as a fighter pilot. In 1943, Sanford was awarded his wings and commissioned as a second lieutenant at Yuma Advanced Flying School, Arizona, before being assigned to the 380th Fighter Squadron of the 363rd Fighter Group, at Oakland Municipal Airport, California.

On November 6, 1943, Second Lieutenant Sanford was flying a Bell P-39 Airacobra on a routine patrol along the California coast when there was an engine explosion. The plane spiraled into the ocean at Suisun Bay, about one mile east of Nichols, California.

Initially, Lieutenant Sanford was reported as missing to his parents. They received a telegram from the War Department on November 7 stating that he was missing in a maneuvers flight. On November 9, they received a telegram from Congressman Roy Woodruff detailing the crash. Sanford's body was eventually recovered on November 18.

"It is with deep regret that I have learned of the death of your son," wrote Major General Barney M. Giles in a letter to Sanford's parents. "The outstanding record that Lieutenant Sanford maintained during his cadetship in the Advanced Flying School at Yuma Army Air Field ... is one of which you can be justly proud. During his career as a pilot, trustworthy and energetic performance of duty earned for him the praise and confidence of his superiors, and with a sterling character and high ideals he soon became a popular officer in his group."

Glenn Sanford was cremated and his ashes returned to his hometown, accompanied on the journey by Lieutenant Robert Stultz of Dayton, Ohio, who had served with Sanford during the past year. He was buried at Cherry Grove Cemetery with full military honors.

"I have been thinking a lot today of a boy I knew a few years ago," wrote the sports editor of the Fulton Daily Leader upon hearing about Sanford's death. "Many Fulton people knew him well, for he was quite a figure here during the 1940 baseball season ... and one of the cleanest and most attractive boys who ever came here during the seven years the Kitty League operated ... I do not recall seeing him get shelled out of a game but one time, and that he came out with his head held high. It was not his heart that failed that day, it was merely his arm refusing to cooperate with his courage, and the next game he came right back with a shutout ... I have a feeling that he met his final challenge the same way."

Beginning in 1947, the Glenn F. Sanford Memorial Trophy was presented to outstanding Clare High School athletes.

Year

Team

League

Class

G

IP

ER

BB

SO

W

L

ERA

1940 St. Joseph
Michigan State C 4 223.6 - 7 - 2 1 -
1940 Fulton
Kitty D 26 197 88 90 119 14 9 4.02
1941 In Military Service
1942 Pittsfield Canadian-American C 6 52 26 18 30 2 4 4.50

 

P-39

A Bell P-39 Airacobra. The type 2/Lt. Glenn Sanford was flying when he crashed into the
Suisun Bay in California.

Glenn Sanford Grave

Glenn Sanford grave at Cherry Grove Cemetery in Clare, Michigan

Notes
1Hillsdale College Yearbook 1939
Utica Daily Press, August 21, 1942
Clare Sentinel, November 12 and 26, 1943
Letter from Major General Barney M. Giles to Mr. and Mrs. Sanford, December 10, 1943
Fulton Daily Leader, March 8, 1944 
Clare Sentinel, January 17, 1947

Thanks to Lola Sanford Blystone, Barbara Blystone, the Clare County Review and Linda Moore, Public Services Librarian at the Hillsdale College Mossey Library for all their help and support with this biography.

Date Added February 15, 2012 Updated June 8, 2014

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