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With the uncertainties of the sports world amidst an ever-prevalent pandemic, many are anxiously awaiting the return of baseball and some sense of normalcy. As the MLB season approaches, LebTown’s providing a look at some of Lebanon’s finest baseball players to ever accomplish the seemingly impossible and reach the big leagues.
Hal Bamberger had a brief stint in Major League Baseball with the New York Giants back in 1948. Despite eight years in the minors with a prominent .287 batting average and 54 home runs, his time with the Giants only yielded a .083 batting average. In his 7 games with the Giants, Bamberger totaled 12 putouts with a perfect fielding percentage. After competing, Bamberger worked a number of other jobs, such as a foreman for Grace Mines and a worker at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ross County, Ohio. Born in Lebanon in 1924, Bamberger died in 2010 in Reading, just miles east.
Ed Miller was born in Annville in 1888. He debuted in the MLB in 1912 for the St. Louis Browns. For the seasons he played in 1912, 1914, and 1918, he averaged a .195 batting average and a .972 fielding percentage as a first baseman in 86 professional games. Miller played 18 seasons in the Minors and amassed over 1700 hits and 40 home runs. Miller died in 1980 in Lebanon.
Patton had a brief stint in the MLB association with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1935. In this one season, he posted a .300 batting average and in 9 games put up 2 RBI. In his 3 games where he appeared in the field, he boasted a perfect fielding percentage, with 4 putouts and 3 assists. Born in Cornwall in 1912, George William Patton died in 1986 in Philadelphia.
The first pitcher on the list, Paul Fittery was born in Lebanon in 1887. Fittery played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1914 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1917. In 8 games with the Reds in 1914, he put up a 3.09 ERA and 21 strikeouts. In 1917 with the Phillies, in 17 games he averaged a 4.53 ERA and 13 strikeouts. Fittery played for years in the Minor Leagues, playing for over 8 different teams. In 18 seasons in the Minors, Fittery amassed 295 wins and 452 strikeouts. Fittery died in 1974 in Cartersville, Georgia.
Speraw’s MLB appearance may not have been the one that he wanted, but is still an accomplishment nonetheless. Making it to the MLB association is an Everest that not many can say they’ve reached. Speraw played one game in the MLB, going to bat twice. He failed to get a hit either time, and never got the chance to play again. As a third baseman he got a single putout and assist with no errors, giving him a perfect fielding percentage. In 15 seasons in the Minors, scored over 40 runs and 1500 hits. Born in Annville in 1893, Speraw died in 1962 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Lebanon Valley College Attendees Who Played in the Major Leagues
Hinkey Haines was born in Red Lion, Pennsylvania back in 1898 and attended Penn State as well as Lebanon Valley College. Haines had a legendary stint in the MLB association, debuting in 1923. In 28 games that season, Haines had a perfect fielding percentage and collected nine runs. Shifting in and out of the lineup, Haines appeared in two World Series games for the Yankees and scored the game tying run in the final game as a pinch runner. When the Yankees got the last out to win the World Series in 1923, Haines was at center field.
This was his only baseball season.
After becoming a World Series champion, Haines then became quarterback of the New York Giants, the professional football team. In 1927, that Giants team won their first NFL championship. Boasting an impressive yet short professional sports career, Haines coached for a few years before becoming an active member in Little Theater in Philadelphia as an actor and director. Haines died back in 1979, in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania. He remains the only athlete to have played on national championship teams in both baseball as well as football.
Born in Scranton and graduating from Lebanon Valley College, Charlie Gelbert had an impressive baseball careers as part of a family of athletes. His father, also named Charlie Gelbert, was in the College Football Hall of Fame and played professional football. Gelbert (the baseball one), was the starting shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1929 to 1932, the team winning a pennant in 1930 and a World Series title in 1931. With an impressive .267 batting average with 350 RBI in 876 games, Gelbert’s career took a massive delay with a hunting accident in 1932. After 2 years, Gelbert was able to heal his injured left ankle and return to play, but his career was never the same.
After returning, he spent his last five years as a utility infielder, and the average amount of games per season he played dropped significantly. After his professional career, Gelbert spent years as a coach of the Lafayette College baseball team and as manager for the Hornell Dodgers of the PONY League. He died in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1967.
While not necessarily from the Lebanon Valley, here’s a few other players who attended Lebanon Valley College and went on to play in the Show.
- Myrl Brown — Myrl Brown played in 7 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1922. In those games, Brown had 11 At bats, and a .273 batting average. As a pitcher, he had a 5.97 ERA and 9 Strikeouts. Brown died in 1981 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
- Reuben Ewing — Reuben Cohen was born in 1904 to Jewish-Ukrainian parents. To avoid anti-Semitism, he changed his name to Ewing. In 1921, he played 3 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, with 1 At Bat and no hits. Ewing died in 1970 in West Hartford, Connecticut.
- Si Pauxtis — Simon Francis Pauxtis was a professional baseball player, college football coach, and even served in the Electoral College in the 1916 Presidential Election for the State of Pennsylvania. He played 4 games with the Cincinnati Reds in 1909 with 8 at bats, and a .125 batting average. In the field, he had 11 Putouts and 1 Assist.
- Lefty Wolf — Walter Francis “Lefty” Wolf played 8 games in 1921 for the Philadelphia Athletics. In those games, Wolf had 4 at bats and a .250 batting average, and as a pitcher boasted a 7.20 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
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