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Dee Fondy

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 31, 1924 Slaton, TX
Date and Place of Death:    August 9, 1999 Redlands, CA
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: First Base
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit:  US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Dee V. Fondy, Jr., was born on October 31, 1924, in Slaton, Texas, but his family moved to San Bernardino, California, when he was very young. In his younger days, he used his middle name, Virgil, to avoid confusion with his father, also Dee. Fondy played baseball at Sturges Junior High School and San Bernardino High School, playing first base during the summer months for the San Bernardino Comets.

Fondy was in his senior year at high school when he entered military service with the Army on April 8, 1943. He trained as a radio technician at Camp Cooke, California, and was at Camp Polk, Louisiana, before serving with the artillery in Europe, landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, in September 1944. Fondy fought in five major battles and was awarded a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds in his right foot.

Following military service, Fondy returned to San Bernardino and was playing with the San Bernardino Outlaws, when he was signed at a Long Beach, California, tryout by Brooklyn scout Tom Downey in 1946. The 21-year-old first baseman was assigned to the Santa Barbara Dodgers of the Class C California League, where he batted .335 in 59 games. The following year – 1947 – he hit .337 with the Newport News Dodgers of the Class B Piedmont League and was an all-star selection.

Fondy advanced to the Fort Worth Cats of the Class AA Texas League in 1948 and batted .328 – second best in the league – with 86 RBIs. He was with the Mobile Bears of the Class AA Southern Association in 1949 and an all-star, then back with Fort Worth in 1950. But with Gil Hodges holding down the first base job for Brooklyn there was nowhere else for Fondy to go, and he was traded with Chuck Connors to the Chicago Cubs in October 1950.

On March 26, 1951, the people of San Bernardino held a day for Fondy. He received a TV set, sportswear, numerous electrical gadgets and a check for $250, which he returned to the donors for a fund to encourage kids to play baseball in his hometown. In the spring training game that followed between the Cubs and Pirates, Fondy contributed a single to the Cubs’ three-run ninth-inning rally that enabled them to beat Pittsburgh, 4 to 3.

Fondy was the opening day first baseman for the Cubs on April 17, 1951. His first major league hit was a bases loaded triple off Cincinnati pitcher Ken Raffensberger. He played 49 games that season - splitting first base duties with Chuck Connors - and batted .271.

Fondy became the Cubs’ regular first baseman in 1952, batting .300 with 67 RBIs, and remained a fixture in the Chicago lineup until he was traded to the Pirates in May 1957. He was traded to the Reds in 1958 and batted .218 over 89 games in his final major league season.

After playing briefly in the Pacific Coast League in 1959, Fondy worked as a scout and front office official for the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. He was the Scouting Director of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976-1977, and then was a special assistant to Milwaukee GM Harry Dalton until retiring from baseball in 1997. "The influence of Dee Fondy's scouting is a major part of the Milwaukee success story," Dalton said in 1982.

Dee Fondy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1998. He passed away at Plymouth Village retirement center in Redlands, California, on August 9, 1999. He was 74 years old and is buried at Montecito Memorial Park in Colton, California.
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“Dee Fondy was one of my favorite people,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said after receiving news of his death. “He had a great sense of humor. He and I used to kid each other a lot."

Date Added December 22, 2017

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