This week America lost another Greatest Generation MLB player and U.S. Navy veteran. Don Hasenmayer made his major-league debut on May 2, 1945, when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the New York Giants at Shibe Park. Born in Roslyn, PA, on April 4, 1927, Hasenmayer was one of the best "third-sackers." He squeezed in five games with the Phillies before reporting to the Navy Training Station at Bainbridge, Maryland. In 18 at-bats, he gathered two singles, including one run batted in for Jimmie Foxx in a 10-1 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
With the help of SABR historians, including Bill Nowlin and Bob Harley, we are working as fast as we can to record the precious history of these players. Locating these men is a challenge. Sometimes this research reconnects athletes who have not spoken in 70 years. Memories rush in fast and clear, players still call one another by nicknames, and "Whiz Kid" Bob Miller, now 93, says Hasenmayer was a great guy!
During the war, the 5 ' 10", blonde-haired blue-eyed infielder served aboard the USS Kearsage, an aircraft carrier that took him to Cuba where he played military ball. By September 1946, Hasenmayer was back home, playing for the Utica Blue Sox, a Phillies affiliate. Hasenmayer was 24 when he played his last game for the Birmingham Barons in 1951. With a growing family, he moved home to work with his father in the plastering business, retiring from the company in 1992. Like his WWII-era peers, Hasenmayer was humble. In a SABR interview, his son-in-law Ron Morris, said he had been married to his wife for two years before he realized that his father-in-law played for THE Philadelphia Phillies. He just happened to learn about his big-league credentials when they attended a game together, and Hasenmayer strolled into a Hall of Fame reception with players, including Bob Boone, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, who nodded and treated him like a peer.