Follow Up To My Paul Gillespie and “15-Minutes of Baseball Fame” Post!

Follow Up To My Paul Gillespie and “15-Minutes of Baseball Fame” Post!

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1945 World Series Photo Gallery
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Follow Up To My Paul Gillespie and “15-Minutes of Baseball Fame” Post!

 Some of you may remember my post from a few months ago in which I featured Paul Gillespie, a 1940’s backup catcher for the Cubs who played three seasons in the majors and was a member of their 1945 World Series team.

Gillespie’s unusual feat is that he is one of only two players in major league history to have hit home runs in his first at-bat and also in his last at-bat. Since Gillespie’s career totals are rather modest (.289 over 205 at-bats with six homers and 32 RBIs, interrupted by military service during World War II), I somewhat condescendingly thought this qualified for the “15-Minutes of Fame” tag.

 I was recently contacted by Chris Hegele, whose mother, Ruth Mary Gillespie Hegele, is the sister of Paul Gillespie. Chris and I then had a series of real nice back-and-forth e-mails about Chris’ uncle Paul.

 I reassured Chris that I in no way meant to disparage his uncle’s career with the “15-Minutes of Fame” tag, as I had also mentioned: “We think anyone who made it to the major leagues is special, and Paul Gillespie is no exception…’Hats off’ to Paul Gillespie for accomplishing something that only two players in major league baseball history have ever done!”

As was characteristic of many from “The Greatest Generation,” Paul Gillespie was, according to Chris, a modest man and wasn’t given to boasting or promoting himself even though he played three years in the major leagues. In his interactions with Uncle Paul, Chris mentioned that he never spoke about his baseball career, “but I still cherish today the morning my older brother and I tossed the ball back and forth on his front lawn.” Here’s a couple other thoughts Chris shared with me:

“Uncle Paul’s modesty about his professional athletic accomplishments is refreshing indeed…Maybe he viewed his war service as far more important than his accomplishments in major league baseball. There were many men and women who did not come home in 1945. Maybe he viewed himself as fortunate to return to civilian life, pick up his catcher’s mitt and equipment to play a few more seasons, then settle down to the business of marriage, work and raising a family.”

Chris also mentioned that his 90-year old mother, Ruth Gillespie Hegele is alive and well and is still an avid Cub fan. She was “ecstatic” when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. She’s also thrilled to have in her possession one of Paul Gillespie’s mitts that a friend had purchased at an auction and had given to her. 

Chris informed me of another oddity in Paul Gillespie’s career: In his first game back from military service on September 21, 1944 at the Polo Grounds…you guessed it!…he hit a home run! He only hit six homers in his career…and three of them were unique!

I’ll say it one more time: “Hat’s off” to Paul Gillespie for accomplishing something that only two players in major league history have ever done.” He made it to the major leagues, and in our eyes he’s very special indeed!

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

8 Comments

  1. Rob Baty · January 9, 2018 Reply

    I love these posts, thank you so much for taking the time to write them..

  2. Larry Rockensuess · January 10, 2018 Reply

    Hi Gary!

    Lennie Merello was NOT the last living player from the 1945 series. That distinctio belongs to the Tigers’ Ed Mierkowicz who die in early 2017. I knew Ed personally. — Larry Rockensuess

  3. Gary Livacari · January 10, 2018 Reply

    Thanks…should have said the oldest surviving Cub from the 1945 World Series.

  4. Kel Kissamis · January 13, 2018 Reply

    Two things to correct for viewers: The pic captioned with “Hank Sauer” among a group of 1945 Cubs players is in fact not Hank, but his brother Ed, who preceded Hank as a Cub (Hank joined the team in 1949); and the pic captioned Cub fans throw their “bloaters”… well this pic is from well before 1945. As you can see from the outfield wall, no bricks, ivy, cat walk; so this is before the 1937 remodel of the outfield and bleachers. Also, visiting team uniforms denote a time well before the 40’s

  5. Paul Doyle · January 13, 2018 Reply

    Gary,
    Received your WS book from Amazon. Great way to count down the days to Opening Day, which I also thank you for the countdown clock on your site.

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