Willard Hershberger

Willard Hershberger

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Willard Hershberger

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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, California. 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 and football 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...
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