Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Rank:
Sergeant, U.S. Army 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Earl V Springer 1
Death:
Buried: Buried at: Plot H Row 16 Grave 30<BR>Luxembourg American Cemetery<BR>Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 1
Death: 25-Jan-45 1
Death Date: 25 Jan 1945 1
Memorial Cemetery: Luxembourg American Cemetery 1
Memorial Country: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 1
Memorial Location: Plot H Row 16 Grave 30 1
Residence:
State: Maryland 1
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World War II 1

Rank:
Sergeant, U.S. Army 1
Service Number:
33134335 1
Awards:
Purple Heart 1
Regiment:
7th Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division 1

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Stories

Earl Springer

 

 

 

Date and Place of Birth: December 19, 1918 Hagerstown, MD Date and Place of Death:    January 25, 1945 Nennig, Germany Baseball Experience: Minor League Position: Pitcher Rank: Sergeant Military Unit: Company B, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division US Army Area Served:European Theater of Operations

 

Earl V. "Lefty" Springer was one of 11 children born to Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Springer in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was an excellent left-handed pitcher at Hagerstown High School, and also played with Sharpsburg and the Hagerstown Cabbies in the local Washington County League. In 1937, he enrolled at the University of Maryland, where he excelled at baseball and soccer. Playing for coach H. Burton Shipley, Springer blanked Dartmouth, 10-0, on April 7, and beat Georgetown, 4-0, with a one-hitter to finish the season with an 8-1 record. But the highlight of the year was his no-hitter against Rutgers on April 1, 1939. "Zipping his fireball through the murky air with electrifying force," announced the Washington Post the following day, "and mixing with it a hook which darted in and around enemy bats with snakelike effect ... Earl Springer ... pitched a fiveinning, no-hit, no-run game yesterday as Maryland blanked Rutgers, 3-0.[1]

In 1940, his senior year, he beat Duke, 6-1, giving up two hits, and hurled one-hitters against William & Mary and George Washington University. Keeping a close eye on Springer throughout the season was former major league infielder Fritz Maisel, who, in 1940, was a club director with the Baltimore Orioles of the Class AA International League. Springer pitched against the Orioles for the University of Maryland, and on several occasions during the early part of the season he went to Oriole Park to workout and talk to manager Tommy Thomas. "All of our players said Springer had plenty on the ball and was tough to hit," declared Thomas. "Pitchers, especially southpaws, with promise aren't easy to pick up these days, but I think Earl has a real chance of going places." [2]

On May 27, 1940, Springer was signed by the Orioles and made 18 appearances over the season for a 1-2 record and 4.28 ERA. In 1941, he got off to a poor start, and on June 24, the Orioles optioned the 22-year-old to his hometown Hagerstown Owls of the Class B Interstate League. Springer helped the Owls to a second-place finish with a 5-8 record and 2.91 ERA in 14 appearances, and struck out 67 in 99 innings.

On January 15, 1942, Springer entered military service with the Army. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division, which later moved to Camp Polk, Louisiana. Sergeant Springer pitched a number of games for the division baseball team at Camp Polk, where one of his teammates was Emmett "Heinie" Mueller of the Philadelphia Phillies. In October 1944, the 8th Armored Division left Louisiana for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, staging camp for troops being deployed to Europe. The division sailed on November 7, and arrived in England on November 22. They encamped at Tidworth Barracks and began six weeks of preparation for combat in Europe.

The division arrived in France at the beginning of 1945. In freezing winter conditions it advanced to Pont-a-Mousson in northeast France, arriving on January 12. After dark, on January 24, 1945, the 7th Armored Infantry Battalion moved north to its assembly point at Besch, Germany, in preparation for the next day's attack at Nennig. At 5:50 A.M. on January 25, the battalion launched an attack against strong enemy resistance. Springer was with Company B which attacked in M3 armor-plated half-track vehicles and suffered heavy casualties including the death of the company commander, Captain Grover Hermann, and the division's pitching ace, Sergeant Earl Springer.

Springer was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, where, since 1945, local resident, Jean Folschette, has carried flowers to the grave of the man he never knew. Folschette "adopted" Springer's grave as an expression of gratitude to American soldiers who liberated his homeland from the grip of the Nazis. Folschette has corresponded with the Springer family for many years and regularly sends photos of the newly decorated grave. He has always refused offers from the family to pay for the flowers.

 

Earl &amp; Harry

Saluting Two Old Birds, Harry and Earl   One afternoon several years ago I received a telephone call from a woman who wanted to talk baseball with me.  I could tell from her voice that she was elderly, in her late seventies or early eighties. She asked me if the museum had anything on exhibit from the International League Orioles.  I indicated we did.  “The 1944 team?” she asked.  “Yes” I replied.  She wondered if I knew about Harry Imhoff and did I know his connection to the 1944 Baltimore Orioles?   I did not. 
  Baltimore-born Harry Imhoff isn’t the first name to come to mind when talking about the ’44 Orioles.  The pennant-winning team was led by notable veteran and fan favorite Tommy Thomas. Other standouts included Howie “the Howitzer” Moss, who led the International League with 27 homers in 1944, catcher Sherm Lollar, left-fielder Stan Benjamin, third baseman Frank Skaff and pitcher Charles “Red” Embrees. Imhoff, newly signed by the Orioles in the spring of 1944, was to be an important part of the team’s future.  The Washington Post wrote, “Harry Imhoff, just out of high school, is another promising receiver with a whale of an arm.”   But Harry appeared in only one game for the ’44 Birds, and went 0-2 at the plate. And although his story sounds like that of “Moonlight” Graham, the real-life baseball player popularized in the movie Field of Dreams , Imhoff chose to suspend his playing career in order to serve his country.  Harry, like so many young people of his generation, put his future on hold and joined the Marine Corps.  But, Harry’s baseball dreams would never come to be. In April of 1945 he was killed exiting a landing craft during the Okinawa Campaign.  He was just 18 years old.   This was the story I heard from the gentle voice on my telephone.  The woman wanted me to know about Harry.  She wanted me to know about Earl Springer, too. Earl was an Orioles pitcher from 1940-41, and was killed in Nennig, Germany on January 25, 1945 while serving with the American Eighth Armored Division. Unlike Harry, Earl enjoyed a couple of years of professional ball, going 6-11 with a 4.39 ERA between Baltimore and Hagerstown.  She wanted me to know because she felt Orioles’ fans should know the sacrifices these men made.    She wanted me to know because she was Harry’s childhood sweetheart.   Over 340 major leaguers served in the Armed Forces during World War II and as many as 3,000 minor leaguers joined or were drafted.  Nearly 20 former Orioles served, including Harry and Earl.  This weekend people will watch parades, enjoy cookouts, and probably take in a game of baseball.  I’ll do the same.  But I’m going to make time to salute our veterans, especially Harry and Earl.

 

Article:

Morning Herald, Hagerstown, Maryland, February 9, 1945

LOCAL BASEBALL STAR KILLED IN ACTION

Sgt. Earl B. Springer, 26, who in civilian life was a widely know local athlete, was killed in action in Germany on January 25, according to a War Department telegram received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Springer, 828 Chestnut Street.

A left handed pitcher, who appeared on the road to baseball fame, Springer played several games with the Hagerstown Owls after having served a year with the Baltimore Orioles. He previously starred on Hagerstown High School and University of Maryland teams, as well as with Sharpsburg in the Washington County League.

Inducted into the armed forces in 1942, Sgt. Springer received his training at Fort Knox, Ky., and with the Seventh Armored Infantry Battalion at Camp Polk, La. He went overseas in November, 1944, with the Seventh Armored Battalion.

Sgt. Springer was a member of Howard Street Methodist Church.

Besides his parents, he is survived by the following: brothers, Clyde and Lawrence, at home, Carl, U.S. Navy at Bainbridge, and Pfc. Robert Springer, in France; sisters, Mildred, Catherine and Jacqueline at home, Helen, McKeesport, Pa., and Thelma and Doris Springer, Baltimore.

 

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