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Don Lumley


Date and Place of Birth: December 30, 1936 Sacramento, CA
Date and Place of Death:    March 4, 1966 Quang Ngai province, Vietnam
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield/First Base
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: Company F, Second Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division USMC
Area Served: Vietnam

Donald R. Lumley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Lumley, was born on December 30, 1936, in Sacramento, California. He attended Grant Union High School in Sacramento and was a second team selection for the Sac-Joaquin Conference in 1954.

The 17-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder signed with the Panama City Fliers of the Class D Alabama-Florida League in July 1954. Playing right field for the Fliers against the Andalusia-Opp Indians on July 21, Lumley drove in four runs on a triple and a single to help Panama City win, 15-14. In 16 games, Lumley batted .200 (10-for-50) with the Fliers and joined the Jamestown Falcons of the Class D PONY League for the remainder of the season where he hit .259 in 14 games.

Lumley was back with the Falcons in 1955. Playing for former big league first baseman, Tony Lupien, Lumley was a key member of the Jamestown club. He blasted a 395-foot home run to centerfield in only the second game of the season against Olean. Then, on May 14, he hit a three-run homer against Hornell in an 11-10 win. On May 24, his ninth inning homer with one aboard, broke a 3-3 tie with Wellsville. On August 5, his single with two out and the bases loaded in the last of the ninth beat Wellsville, 3-2. Two nights later he homered twice and doubled to drive in four runs and help beat Hornell, 12-0.

Playing 125 games, he batted .266 (second best among regular players) with 17 doubles and 10 home runs. His 129 hits led the team and he was still only 18 years old.

Lumley had a promising career ahead of him but military service beckoned in 1956. That summer, instead of playing minor league baseball he was in the Marine Corps playing first base with the Streaks in the Okinawa Service League. In 1957, Lumley was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan and playing with the Camp McGill Marines.

After three years of overseas military service, Lumley returned to the United States in late 1958, and played During the winter months he returned to Sacramento where he played in the Winter Baseball League and was the National Division batting champion. He was back in the minors in the spring of 1959, playing as if he’d not missed a single season. Under the watchful eye of manager, Johnny Pesky, Lumley played outfield and first base with the Knoxville Smokies of the Class A Sally League and hit .275 with 11 homers and 74 RBIs. He hit a team-leading 25 doubles and seven triples, playing alongside such future big leaguers as Mickey Lolich, Buck Rodgers, Jake Wood, Frank Kostro and Dick McAuliffe.

In the spring of 1960, Lumley was under contract to Detroit’s Denver Bears, and attended spring training with them at Lakeland, Florida. By the start of the regular season he was with the Birmingham Barons of the Class AA Southern Association and batted .238 in 33 games. He spent the second half of the season back with Knoxville, hitting .287 in 96 games.

Aged just 24, and entering the 1961 season, eight years after playing his first minor league game, Lumley started the year with the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association before finding his way back to the Birmingham Barons. Appearing in 91 games for the season, he batted .254 and drove in 51 runs.

Lumley quit professional baseball due to injury after the 1961 season but continued to play at the amateur level. In 1964, he was with the Knoxville team that captured the Stan Musial World Series of the American Amateur Baseball Congress. He also served as the freshman baseball coach at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

With U.S military involvement on the increase in Vietnam, Don Lumley was recalled to active service as a second lieutenant in January 1966. Leaving behind his wife, Karolee, he served with Company F, Second Battalion, 7th Marines of the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam.

On March 4, 1966, 29-year-old 2/Lt. Don Lumley was killed in action in the Quang Ngai province in Vietnam. The 7th Marines had flown in by helicopter to attack the heavily defended positions of the 21st People's Vietnam Army Regiment and met with ferocious fire during what became known as Operation Utah. Lumley was one of 13 casualties suffered by Company F before they were able to reach their night defensive positions near the hamlet of Chau Nhai.

Don Lumley’s body was returned home to Sacramento and now rests at the East Lawn Elk Grove Memorial Park in Elk Grove, California.

Lodi News-Sentinel, May 29, 1954
Panama City News-Herald, July 11, 1954
Panama City News, July 22, 1954
Niagara Falls Gazette, May 2, 1955
Gloversville and Johnstown Leader-Herald, May 16, 1955
Cortland Standard, May 25, 1955
Gloversville and Johnstown Leader-Herald, August 6, 1955
Dunkirk Evening Observer, August 8, 1955
Pacific Stars and Stripes, August 12, 1956
Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 3, 1957
Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 14, 1957
Marshall Chronicle, February 26, 1960
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, March 6, 1960
Biloxi and Gulfport Daily Herald, May 10, 1961
Sault Sainte Marie Evening News, September 22, 1964
Minutes of Sacramento City Council meeting, January 22, 1959

Thanks to Astrid van Erp, for help with photos for this biography.

Date Added October 14, 2013. Updated July 30, 2017

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