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Joe Damato

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: January 26, 1922 Chicago, IL
Date and Place of Death:    December 31, 1986 Hillside, IL
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Infield
Rank: Sergeant
Military Unit: 401st Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Joseph P. Damato was born on January 26, 1922, in Chicago, Illinois, and signed a professional contract with Janesville of the Wisconsin State League in 1941. Playing second base, third base and the outfield, Damatao batted just .228 in 94 games. The following year, still with Janesville, he turned things around and hit .318 in 107 games with nine home runs and 65 RBIs. He also stole 25 bases.

Damato's career was put on hold at the end of 1942 as military service beckoned. He served in Europe with the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment and was wounded at Bastogne and taken prisoner. Sergeant Damato spent the remainder of the war in captivity at Stalag 12a, in Limburg, Germany.

He returned home in late 1945 and resumed his playing career with Hutchinson of the Western Association, batting .324 with 85 RBIs. He was with Des Moines of the Western League in 1947 and advanced to Nashville of the Southern Association in 1948. Damato was batting .280 for the Vols when he suffered a broke hand as the result of being hit by a pitch on August 3.

Damato was back with Nashville in 1949 and remained with the club until 1951. He was with Oklahoma City of the Texas League from 1952 to 1955. After baseball, Damato worked as a truck driver.

Joe Damato, ballplayer, wounded veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart, passed away on December 31, 1986, in Hillside, Illinois, aged 64.

Date Added December 15, 2017

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