Legion Baseball alumni Herzog, Erskine pass away

Legion Baseball alumni Herzog, Erskine pass away

Two American Legion Baseball alumni who went on to legendary careers in Major League Baseball died within hours of each other this week.

Whitey Herzog, who played Legion Baseball in Illinois, died April 15 at the age of 92. Carl Erskine, who played Legion Baseball in Indiana, died April 16 at 97.

Herzog, who grew up in New Athens, Ill., served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri during the Korean War. He played eight seasons in the major leagues with the Washington Senators, Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers.

After his playing career, he spent two years as a scout, then a coach, with the Athletics before joining the New York Mets. After one season as their third base coach, he spent six years as the Mets’ director of player development. He would go on to manage the Texas Rangers, California Angels and Kansas City Royals before taking over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980. He managed St. Louis to the 1982 World Series championship.

Herzog was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Erskine grew up in Anderson, Ind., and served in the U.S. Navy in 1945-46. He spent his entire MLB career with the Dodgers, making his major league debut for Brooklyn on July 25, 1948, and finishing with the team in Los Angeles in 1959. Erskine set a World Series record with 14 strikeouts in a single game in the 1953 World Series, and threw two of the majors’ seven no-hitters in the 1950s.

Erskine received The American Legion’s James V. Day Good Guy Award in 1995, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023, for his contributions to charity and work with Special Olympics.

“The Dodgers lost the last of its ‘Boys of Summer,’ this week but America lost a great patriot,” American Legion National Commander Daniel Seehafer said. “Carl Erskine was a World II veteran and Legionnaire, who consistently gave back to his community in Indiana. He was a staunch advocate for his son, Jimmy, who was born with Down syndrome but was raised to maximize his talents. Carl devoted more than 40 years of service to the Special Olympics. I am proud that The American Legion recognized Carl for his leadership by naming him as a recipient of our James V. Day Good Guy Award in 1995. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Betty, and their loving family.”


American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico.

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