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Bob Ray

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: Date unknown Waterbury, CT
Date and Place of Death:    Unknown
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Third Base
Rank: Private First-Class
Military Unit: 42nd Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Robert C. "Bob" Ray was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. A third baseman, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies and was with the Utica Braves of the Class A Eastern League in 1943. After just two games, Ray was ordered to report to his draft board, but was able to return to the Braves in the hope of playing until early July. However, after playing 21 games under veteran manager Wally Schang, Ray sprained his ankle when his spikes caught in the bag running to second. He recovered from his injury in late June, but just in time to report for military service.

Ray served as a private first-class with the 42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division from Marseilles in France to the defense of the Rhine, spending much of that time as a company scout. In March 1945, the 42nd Division went on the offensive, attacking through the Hardt Mountains, and broke through the Siegfried Line. It was then that Ray was seriously wounded by German machine-gun fire. His throwing arm and right side were hit and his shoulder-blade was shattered.

Ray was returned to the United States, where he was hospitalized at Northington General Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Within months, Ray was thinking about his baseball career and was practising taking grounders with other GIs at the hospital although his injuries were not allowing him to use his arm in overhand throwing.

Bob Ray didn’t make it back to organized baseball. In 1948, he was presented with a lifetime pass to all major and minor league games. George M. Trautman, president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs announced in May of that year, that passes would be made available to "all players whose careers were ended because of injuries or illness received in the line of duty."

Date Added December 20, 2017 Updated January 28, 2018

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