Willard McKee Hershberger
(May 28, 1910 – August 3, 1940) was a catcher
for Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds
from 1938 to 1940.
He has the distinction of being the only major league player to date to commit suicide
during the season.
Life and career
Willard Hershberger was born in Lemon Cove
. His family moved to Fullerton
, California when his father, Claude, got a job working in the city's oil
fields. Hershberger attended Fullerton Union High School
, where he distinguished himself on both the baseball
teams. The yearbook called Hershberger "the boy with the golden toe", referring to his achievements as a placekicker
and "the greatest little catcher to ever put on the Fullerton uniform." The 1926 baseball team won the California Interscholastic Federation
championship. In 2003, he was named to the school's All-Time FUHS baseball team
On November 21, 1928, Claude Hershberger, who was depressed
over financial problems, fatally shot himself with a shotgun
in the family home's bathroom. 18-year-old Willard discovered the body.
Professional baseball career
Willard Hershberger signed with the New York Yankees
, but did not make his major league debut until age 27, after eight minor league seasons. He was a member of the Yankees' Newark Bears
farm team which posted an outstanding 109-43... Read More