Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Googling the family name....Veteran's Day Delight

                                             

Veteran's Day. A day of memory.  A day of reflection. An emotional day for some, a regular day for others.

As I reflected on Veteran's Day, I thought about the three veterans I knew best. After thanking them in a prayer for their service,  I decided to google their names just to see what would appear on my computer screen.

First,  I googled John Dalhaimer and Joseph Dalhaimer. John, the uncle I never knew, died in World War II in Saipan. Often there is new information online for him but I didn't see anything unusual.  Joseph, my dad, has a number of links but the most dominant one was the 'find a grave" site.

Then I searched for Stanley Bartkowski. I don't often google my father-in-law's name because he died in 1985 long before the internet was commonplace, before personal computers were household items, before and before cell phones were common. And, he lived a full life without those things. Stan was a great sports fan, particularly fond of baseball and football.  I can't remember a time when the television was not broadcasting a sport event at his house.

The photograph of him in his Texarkana baseball shown above hangs in my office.  He played minor league baseball and who knows how far he could have gone with his career but for a fateful event on December 7, 1941.

I was intrigued when a number of links actually pertained to the man I knew. The one that intrigued me most was baseball-reference.com

Perhaps the folks at baseball reference.com realized that baseball is a huge element of family history.  Perhaps they knew the stories of men of Stan's generation needed to be remembered. Perhaps they knew the oral history passed down to the next generation needed documentation, Whatever the reason, after a quick glance at their baseballs records, I discovered the information was in depth and fascinating to review. Especially for Stan Bartkowski, Sr.

Baseball reference shows that at 21 years of age, Stan was playing for Lubbock in the West Texas New Mexico league,  He played 128 games with a .266 batting average. Not bad for a kid from Wisconsin.

YearAgeTm        Lg  LevAff  G   PA   AB   R  H2B3BHR
194121LubbockWTNMDCHW128      492
      13128 6  7
But that was the summer of 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, everyone in the United States experienced  change. Fierce patriotism fueled many young men to join the war effort. By 1942 Stan was in the Army in Walnut Creek, California.  His beloved Alice Grayson traveled to meet him there and they were married on November 8 before he left for overseas.



Then we have the gap.  For five years he was away from the minor leagues while he served his country.  Sure, he had a chance to pick up a bat and glove on occasion when in the Army, but the time spent away always begs the question: What if?

His baseball career resumed in 1946 when he played for 3 teams and moved up from C to AA status. From Texarkana to Vicksburg, Shreveport to Kilgore, Lufkin to Paris.  Paris, Texas that is. Where on June 28, 1950, his twin children were born.
YearAge  Tm      Lg     Lev    Aff   G     AB R H2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBA 
1946263 Teams3 LgsC-B-AACHW102    31280  19  1  8                        .256
194626TexarkanaETXL   C    CHW60     18146  11 1   3                         .254
194626Vicksburg  SEAL    B           31    10129     8 0   4                        .287
194626Shreveport  TL    AA   CHW11      30  5     0  0   1                       .167
194727Kilgore       LONE   C           131  499160 29 9  13                      .321
194828Lufkin         LONE   C           139  519156 32 2  12                      .301
194929Paris           ETXL   C            137  5371863512   9                       .346
195030Paris           ETXL   C              62   23181 18  1   9                       .351
195232Pampa       WTNM  C              62   23067   9  0  9                        .291
195434Ponca City    WA    C              23     8017   3  0  1                        .213
Despite strong hitting skills throughout his career, the travel, the time away from his hometown and the responsibility of raising three children helped change his mind about the baseball life. He returned to Milwaukee where he worked at Pabst Brewery, and ultimately spent most of his years at Falk Corporation, a major manufacturer of gears.

Family stories tell this tale, but finding the baseball records to back it up after an unlikely google search on Veteran's Day is a rare treat. Baseball reference.com has made the difference by capturing Stan's statistics and posting them online. What a delightful way to memorialize one of our our deserving veterans.