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Del Davis

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: circa 1920 Laurel Run, PA
Date and Place of Death:    Unknown
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Catcher
Rank: Coxswain
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: Atlantic and Pacific Theater of Operations

Delbert B. Davis, the son of David and May Davis, was born in Laurel Run, Pennsylvania, in 1920. His older brother, John "Red" Davis, began a professional baseball career as an infielder with the Cardinals' organization in 1935, and Del signed as a catcher with the New York Yankees in 1940, joining the Easton Yankees of the Class D Eastern Shore League in July of that year. Del Davis played 17 games with Easton and batted .143, while Red, in his sixth season in the minors was with the Houston Buffs of the Texas League.

In 1941, Del was with the Akron Yankees for spring training and was assigned to the Amsterdam Rugmakers of the Class C Canadian-American League at the start of the season. He played 24 games and was batting .227, when he was sent to the Butler Yankees of the Class D Penn State Association in July. Del played 27 games and batted .292. Meanwhile, Red, had made it to The Show. He joined the New York Giants in September and made his debut on the 9th, appearing in 21 games for the season ended.

In early 1942, the brothers entered military service. Del joined the Navy, while Red joined the Army Air Force. Del Davis attained the rank of coxswain and was on one of the ships that convoyed troops to North Africa during the latter part of 1942. The following year, he transferred to the light cruiser USS Birmingham, which served in the Pacific Theater.

On October 24, 1944 - during the Battle of Leyte Gulf - the light carrier USS Princeton, was attacked by a Japanese dive bomber, causing a huge explosion. The USS Birmingham was in the vicinity and was one of four ships that came to the Princeton's rescue. At 15:24, on the same day, with the Birmingham alongside rescuing crew members, a second and larger explosion shook the Princeton. The Birmingham suffered extensive damage to her superstructure and considerable casualties. Two hundred and thirty-nine men died, 408 were wounded. Among them was Coxswain Delbert Davis.

Severely wounded, Davis was taken to safety aboard the hospital ship USS Samaritan. He never fully recovered from his injuries and was disabled for life.

Red Davis, who served in India during the war, returned to baseball in 1949, as a manager. His career as a minor league skipper spanned 27 years.

Date Added January 7, 2018

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