BP takes Memorial Day off and remembers Bob Neighbors, the last major leaguer to be killed in combat.
It's been 60 years since a man with major-league experience was killed in combat. That man was Bob Neighbors, who—according to his player card—had not been mentioned in an article at Baseball Prospectus before now. We’ve mentioned many thousands of players in our 15 years on the internet, but it’s not much of a mystery why we've never name-checked Neighbors. Our bread and butter is baseball analysis, and it’s almost impossible to analyze a player whose big-league record was limited to seven games and 11 plate appearances for one of the worst teams ever, the 43-111 1939 Browns. Neighbors hit .182 without a walk in those 11 plate appearances, though one of the hits was a home run off Denny Galehouse (who’s earned three times as many mentions on the site). Only 600 people were at Fenway Park to see that homer hit.
Neighbors spent a couple of unspectacular seasons in the minors after his cup of coffee with St. Louis. He was only 24 when he enlisted in the Air Force after Pearl Harbor, but his big-league career likely would have been over even if the war hadn’t happened. Neighbors was, by all accounts, a decent shortstop, but he might not have batted much above .182 even if he’d had a full season to try. He was the sort of player only the ’39 Browns could call up.
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