Talk about 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

Talk about 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

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1945 World Series Photo Gallery
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 Talk about 15-Minutes of Baseball Fame!

In the featured photo below, we see the Cubs’ backup catcher from their 1945 pennant-winning team. His name is Paul Gillespie. And no, I’ve never heard of him either.

Why, you might ask, am I featuring him today? Good question. Because Paul Gillespie did something that only two ball players in the long history of the game have ever done. And since I love uncovering little bits of baseball trivia, I thought this would make for an interesting post (well, at least I thought it would!). So do you want to hazard a guess as to just what Paul Gillespie did that was so special?

Give up? OK, I guess I’ll have tell you.

First of all, Paul Gillespie hit a home run in his first major league at bat, 75 years ago today, September 11, 1942. He hit it in the second inning of the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. It was a solo shot off the Giants’ Harry Feldman (Ok…I’ve never heard of him either). In so doing, Gillespie became the first Chicago Cub to homer in his first at-bat.

That’s nice, but nothing real special, right? Many others have homered in their first at-bat, too. Well, read on, the story gets better…

In 1945, Gillespie’s three-year major league career came to an end. In his last at-bat, he also hit a home run. He became the first Chicago Cub to homer in his last at-bat. That’s nice too, but now here’s where the “15-minutes of fame” thing comes in…

Paul Gillespie is one of only two players in major league history to hit home runs in his first and last at-bats! You read that correctly! The other is John Miller, who played briefly from 1966-1969 for the Yankees and Dodgers (and those were the only two homers he hit in his career).

And now you know this bit of baseball trivia. Aren’t you glad you took a minute to read about this Cub back-up catcher? I thought so!

In case you’re interested – and I know you are – Paul Gillespie’s major league career consisted of a grand total of 205 at-bats over 89 games. He hit .283 with six home runs (and you already know about two of them!), and 31 RBIs.

And just to add a little spice to this post, here’s a link to my earlier post and my photo tribute to the 1945 World Series, in which Paul Gillespie was the hitting star: http://wp.me/p7a04E-2F4

Well, maybe he didn’t “star”. Would you believe he had a good series? Would you believe he got into some games? Would you believe he was on the team? Actually, Paul Gillespie played in three games in the 1945 World Series, and, well, Paul didn’t do too well. He went hitless in six at bats.

Anyway…I’ve said many times we think anyone who made it to the major leagues is special. We don’t care if he’s a star or a reserve, and backup catcher Paul Gillespie is no exception; and so we’re glad to shine the spotlight on him for a brief moment or two.

“Hats off” to Paul Gillespie for accomplishing something that only two players in major league baseball history have ever done!

Gary Livacari

Photo Credit: From Google Search

Information: From This Day in Baseball History:http://nationalpastime.com/

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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.

5 Comments

  1. Larry Rockensuess · September 13, 2017 Reply

    Hi Gary!

    If Billy Pierce is dead, then the last member of 1945 World Series died this year – Ed Mierkowicz. Both were members of the 1945 Tigers.

  2. Chris Hegele · January 5, 2018 Reply

    Hi, Gary:

    Thank you for honoring my uncle in your “15 Minutes of Baseball Fame” article. His sister, my mother, Mary Ruth Gillespie Hegele, is still living at 90 years of age.
    An email pen pal of hers in Minnesota who also shares your passion for American major league baseball, sent her one of my Uncle Paul’s catcher mitts he bought at an auction years ago.
    To say my mother was overjoyed at the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory would be an understatement. She was ecstatic. I gave her contact info to sports writers on the Chicago Tribune thinking there was a human interest story there somewhere interviewing a sibling of one of the 1945 Cubs but I guess they thought differently because no one contacted her.
    I met Uncle Paul only once, three years before his death at the age of 49 from a massive heart attack. He never spoke about his three major league seasons but I still cherish today the morning my older brother and I tossed the ball back and forth on his front lawn.
    There is one more interesting bit of info on my uncle Paul that I haven’t found and wonder if you have. If so, I’d love to receive that info from you.
    Just after his inaugural game and first at-bat homer off of Giants’ starter Harry Feldman, my uncle entered the Coast Guard and served for several years during World War II. At the conclusion of his military service his first game as a major league player was at the Polo Grounds where, yes, you guessed it…he hit one of his six homer runs. I have not found the pitcher he faced, the team, nor the date of the game but I know it occurred in the Polo Grounds. If you have that information I would love to read it!

    Best regards,
    Chris Hegele
    nephew of Paul Gillespie

    • Gary Livacari · January 5, 2018 Reply

      Hi Chris- Thanks so much for contacting me! I hope you didn’t mind my characterizing your uncle’s remarkable feats as “15 minutes of fame”! And to be 100% accurate, I had heard of him, as I’m very familiar with the ’45 Cub team. I hope you read at the bottom of the post where I mentioned that “I’ve said many times we think anyone who made it to the major leagues is special. We don’t care if he’s a star or a reserve, and backup catcher Paul Gillespie is no exception; and so we’re glad to shine the spotlight on him for a brief moment or two.“Hats off” to Paul Gillespie for accomplishing something that only two players in major league baseball history have ever done!” That’s certainly how I feel. You and your family can be rightly proud of him. By the way, I’d like to do a follow-up post about your uncle Paul using some of the nice comments you made, especially about your mother being a Cub fan and all. If you have anything else you’d like to mention about him, please send my way. Again, thanks so much for contacting me. Please give my regards to your mother (same age as my mother who is also a Cub fan!). Best regards, Gary P.S. I’m also sending via e-mail to be sure you see this.

  3. Chris Hegele · January 5, 2018 Reply

    PS Three of my uncle’s four daughters still survive him. Gwen, the oldest, lives in Atlanta, GA; Gail, the second oldest, lives in Jacksonville, FL and Glenda, the third oldest, lives in North Carolina.

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