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Mel Wasley

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: April 19, 1917 Grass Valley, CA
Date and Place of Death:    March 6, 1982 Grass Valley, CA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Private First-Class
Military Unit: B Battery, 344th Field Artillery Battalion, 90th Infantry Division  US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Melvin C. “Mel” Wasley was born on April 19, 1917, in Grass Valley, California. He signed with the Norfolk Elks of the Class D Nebraska State League in 1936 and batted an impressive .361 with with 14 home runs and 90 RBIs his rookie year. In 1937 he was with the Union Springs Springs of the Class D Alabama-Florida League where he hit .303, and joined the Duluth Dukes of the Class D Northern League in 1938, where his .357 batting average was second best in the league. He also hit 31 home runs and he set a league record by hitting four homers in a single game.

After three years playing Class D baseball, Wasley began moving up the ladder in 1939. The 22-year-old outfielder was with the Springfield Cardinals of the Class C Western Association that year, where he had a fourth best .335 average along with 116 RBIs and 11 home runs. Finally, someone noticed that here was a young ballplayer who could hit for power and average (over four seasons he'd hit 61 home runs and consistently batted above .300), but he was probably advanced too far in a single season. He was assigned to the Sacramento Solons of the Class AA Pacific Coast League - one step below the big leagues - where he batted .250 over 45 games and spent the rest of the season with the Portsmouth Red Birds of the Class C Middle Atlantic League.

Wasley played for the Pocatello Cardinals of the Class C Pioneer League in 1941, where he batted .294 with 101 RBIs before entering military service with the Army on January 20, 1942.

Wasley served with the Army and was with B Battery of the 344th Field Artillery Battalion, 90th Infantry Division, arriving in England in April 1944, in preparation for D-Day. The 344th came ashore at Utah Beach. Shortly afterwards, Private First-Class Wasley suffered wounds to his face, centered around his eyes and nose, for which he received the Purple Heart. He was also awarded a Bronze Star.

Wasley was discharged from service in November 1945. Afer four seasons in military service and now 29 years old, he returned to baseball with the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Class B Western International League in 1946, and proved he could still hit. In 143 games he batted .313, and had further brief trials with the Sacramento Solons in 1947 and 1948.

In 1949, he joined the Salem Senators of the Western International League and remained in that league with Salem, Spokane and Lewiston until retiring from baseball after the 1954 season, aged 37.

Mel Wasley passed away in Grass Valley, California, on March 6, 1982. He was 65 years old and is buried at New Elm Ridge Cemetery in Grass Valley.

Date Added December 21, 2017

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