Photos (28) Add Images
Places mentioned on this page
Connected Pages Add Page
Links Add Link
Share Robert's Memorial page on Facebook
About this page
Anyone can contribute to this page. Please sign in or sign up—it's free.
Bobby Gruss, Minor League Baseball Player
1942 | Ohio
Bobby Gruss, WW II Hero of the Minor Leagues by Gary Bedingfield, Author
Date and Place of Birth: 1924 Lakewood, Ohio
Date and Place of Death: August 19, 1944 nr. Tonopah, Nevada
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Military Unit: 442nd Base Unit, USAAF
Area Served: United States
LINK to the Book Review by Barbara Connolly of the book "Baseball's Dead of WWII" by Gary Bedingfield http://baseballinwartime.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-of-baseballs-dead-of-world-war.html
The Publisher is McFarland at;
and their Order-Line is 800-253-2187.
Bob Gruss was born in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in 1924. He was a backfield star on Lakewood High School’s football team and signed with the Cleveland Indians organization after graduating in June 1943.
The Indians assigned Gruss to the Batavia Clippers of the Class D PONY League and the young outfielder appeared in 20 games, batting .329 with 12 RBIs and six stolen bases. He appeared to have a promising career ahead of him but military service beckoned and Gruss was a corporal with the Army Air Force before the 1944 season came around.
Gruss trained as an aerial gunner at Tonopah Army Air Field, one of the largest military bases in Nevada. As part of the 4th Air Force’s 442nd Base Unit, Corporal Gruss was involved in high altitude bomber training in Consolidated B-24 Liberators.
On the morning of Saturday, August 19, 1944, Bob Gruss was aboard a
B-24E that left Tonopah on a routine first phase training flight never to return. The four-engined bomber was being flown by Captain Robert E. Sweet - an instructional pilot with overseas service and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross - and Second Lt. Robert L. Pyle. Exactly what went wrong remains a mystery, but it is believed there was a failure of the right vertical stabilizer. The plane crashed in the Nevada wilderness about 20 southeast of the airfield killing all nine crew members.
The young airman’s body was returned to his parents Albert and Mary in Lakewood and buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland on August 28.
In 1991, Bob Gruss was inducted in the Lakewood High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Patti's Poem for Bobby
I read their words, written long ago;
From another place and time.
They bring the sights, the sounds, the war,
Streaming into my mind.
Oh, they were just young eager boys,
Facing Fates beyond their years.
Too rapidly growing into men,
Forced to breathe with swallowed tears.
Their belief in Duty, Honor, Pride,
Pushed them through the daunting news.
They vowed to fight on, and to NEVER Forget,
The Fallen and Missing Crews.
And when they came home, at war's end,
Among their bags and souvenirs,
They carried their comrades in their hearts,
And kept them safe for the rest of their years.
They never speak of their Heroic feats,
The part they played in Terror's fall.
Instead they ask, that you recall,
The Ones who gave their all.
Many thanks to Barbara Connolly and Bob's cousin, Patti Johnson, for their wonderful assistance in compiling this biography. Gary Bedingfield, Author.
Copyright © 2009 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.
Robert J "Bobby" Gruss, Cpl. AAC
19 August, 1944 | Tonopah, Nevada
Stories and Pictures from Bobby's cousin, Patti Johnson of Collins, Ohio... best known for her GR-8 Research for the 57th Bomb Wing and Barbi Connolly, 57th BW Researcher and Historian for her Dad's 321st Bomb Group/MTO, B-25's. WW II.
Albert and Mary Gruss' parents were both born in Czech, Albert and Mary were born in Ohio. Their children (and they had 11 living children) 2 of their sons, Albert and Robert were born in PA. In the 1930 Census, Albert was 8, Robert was 6 (born 1924)Robert J. “Bobby” Gruss was born in 1924, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the Second Son of Albert T. and Mary Elizabeth (Nee Skrovan) Gruss. His Big Brother, Albert M.“Al” Gruss was about three years older. Bobby attended Lakewood High School, where he was a member of the Football Team. He Graduated from Lakewood High School in June of 1943. World War II was raging on both fronts, all across Europe and in the Pacific. After Graduation, Bobby played Minor League Baseball with the Batavia Clippers, a Class D Team, and an affiliate with the Cleveland Indians. The Batavia Clippers played in the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, and consisted of six teams. Bobby was quite the hitter, with a batting average of .329, and a slugging percentage of 415. Bobby was ranked in the top ten, securing the 10th spot, in just 20 games and 82 bats with 27 singles, 4 doubles and 1 home run.
Robert served in the USAAC, DNB (Died Non Battle)
Gruss, Robest J. AAF Cpl. 8-19-1944 2022 Robin Avenue Tonopah, Nevada H.S.1943 Cpl. Robert Gruss died while on a routine flight near Tonopah, Nevada. He had trained to be an aerial gunner on a B-24 Liberator. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
My Cousin, Robert J. "Bobby" Gruss, Cpl., DNB~WW2~19 Aug 1944 (Patti Johnson)Bomber Group Training; The reason for this change was that the range could not be used successfully as a fighter training area. Possibly due to Tonopah's 6,000-foot (1,800 m) elevation and design problems with the Airacobras, the planes and pilots were being lost in crashes at an unacceptable rate. In addition, the extreme temperatures of over 100 degrees in summer had a negative effect on the P-39's performance. It was decided to change the operation to a high altitude bomber training base to train crews of the Consolidated B-24 Liberators. On March 31, 1944, its training functions being taken over by the 442nd Army Air Force Base Unit. The major activity, however, continued to be the training of replacement crews for B-24 operations. This B-24 program continued until the end of the war. During this time the Tonopah base was one of the largest military operations in Nevada and had one of the largest post exchanges in the 4th Air Force. This exchange, opened in August 1942, paid many dividends which were used for the benefit of the enlisted men. On Nov. 13th, 1943, it paid a dividend of $10,741.48, one of the largest recorded. The base also had a large bakery with a related doughnut shop. This shop. during 1943 and 1944, sold an average of 400 dozen doughnuts a day. In October, 1944, there were 66 B-24 aircraft available for the training program. At that time there were 1,264 officers and 5,273 enlisted men.
Tonopah Army Air Field was a World War II United States Army Air Force training airfield located seven miles east of the central business district (CBD) of Tonopah, a city in Nye County, Nevada, USA It was active between 1942 and 1945. Name: Gruss, Corp. Robert J.
Date: Aug 26 1944 Source: Source unknown; Cleveland Necrology File, Reel #032.
Notes: Gruss: Corp. Robert J., U. S. A. A. F., beloved son of Albert and Mary (nee Skrovan), brother of Albert, jr., grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Gruss, sr., and Mrs. Sophie Skrovan, passed away suddenly Aug. 19 at Tonopah, Nev. Friends may call at late residence, 2022 Robin ave., Saturday after 11 a. m. Funeral Monday, Aug. 28, at 9:30 a. m. from SS. Cyril and Methodius Church. Interment Calvary Cemetery. Jos. B. Misencek in charge.
National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Registry~NARA~War Department Files
Honoree Hometown Service Source
CPL Robert J. Gruss ID: 35067530
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Cuyahoga County, OH
Facts about the Gruss family....
August 1944 | Lakewood, Ohio
I am first cousin to Bobby. Uncle Al and my father were brother, and their parents were born in Austria, Hungary. Uncle Al and Aunt Mary had only two children Albert and Bobby. Grandma and Grandpa Gruss had eight children, four boys and four girls. Stephen, Albert, Andrew, John, Kathryn, Elizabeth, Helen and Margaret. Each one of these children had two children, except for John the youngest sone. Steve had two girls, Albert two boys, Andrew two girls, (I am the younger, Kathryn had a boy & and girl, Elizabeth had two girls, Helen a boy and a girl and Margaret as well. Bobby's mother my Aunt Mary, they always called her Albert's Mary, never recovered from his death. His brother Albert took care of his Mom and Dad, and his Dad was stricken with Spinal Meningitis and was bed ridden for the rest of his life. Albert and Mary (nee Skrovan) lived above my Grandparents until Albert could no longer walk, then he stayed in a bedroom in the downstairs where Aunt Mary and little Al took care of him. Young Albert had two sons...Jerry and Raymond..Jerry is deceased. Raymond resides in Lakewood, Ohio. I know this facts because I lived thru them. I am Joan Gruss Kenney Ference.
Robert "Bobby" Gruss "History of Tonopah AAF"
Tonopah, CA. | 1944
Allen Metscher put together The Tonopah Army Air Field Wall Of Honor, Because He had Bobby Listed as Cpl. Robert J. GUESS.
Well I sent him Bobby's Obit, his WW2 Wash, D.C. Memorial info, AND a
copy of the Newspaper Article, as "supporting evidence" to make the
CORRECTION. He's sending me a copy of His BOOK. . . . . .
"The History of Tonopah Army Air Field", by Allen Metscher.
a Copy of the Accident Report, and a BOAT LOAD of info... It turns out that HE is the President of the Tonopah Historical Society, my "polite" Correction was Genuinely Appreciated.
"Tonopah" by Cpl. Herman Krinsky
I could do without my mother's home made chicken pies,
It wouldn't be so bad without my girl's ro-man-tic sighs,
I would give up wine and beer and cig-a-rettes and such,
All I ask is sim-ply this, do you think I'm asking too much?
I'd fight a lion and never flinch,
and wrestling bears would be a cinch,
But don't send me back to Ton-o-pah!
I'd dig latrines the GI way,
I'd be content with private's pay,
But don't send me back to Ton-o-pah!
By Patti Johnson, Cousin of Bobby Gruss, her Dad grieved over the Loss of Bobby, his nephew, his entire life.
ronald j. skrovan,first cousin to bobby gruss
july 14 2010 | brooklyn,ohio
my name is Ron Skrovan first cousin to bobby gruss,my Dad was younger brother to Mary Gruss nee Skrovan.I really miss Bobby all these yearsI was 8 years old when Bobby died.I think I was one of the last of our family to see Bobby alive. He came over to our house one day before leavinf for Nevada.i was just learing to play the trumpet, and Bobby came over to say goodby and listen to me play a few.numbers.I always rembered that beautiful smile that Bobby had. God I wish he was here today.he had a very good chance to be a professional baseball player with Cleveland iNDIANS.BOBBY,our whole family misses you very much .May God always watch over you.
Bobby's Sports Highlights
1941-1944 | Lakewood, OHIO
Robert J. "Bobby" Gruss played at least TWO sports for his alma mater,
Lakewood High School; FOOTBALL and BASEBALL, and was a stand-out in BOTH sports.
As part of the Lakewood Rangers 1941 Football team in his Junior year of High School,
Bobby helped the team become Co-champions of the Lake Erie League, sharing the Title,
with one of their fiercest rivals, The Shaw High School Cardinals.
As a Major Part of the Lakewood Rangers 1942, Football team, in his Senior year of
High School, Bobby helped the team become SOLE Champions of the Lake Erie League.
The team had 8 wins and only one loss, and in 6 of those games, their opponents were
As Part of the Lakewood Rangers 1943 Baseball team, Bobby again figured prominently
in their winning ways, and on 02 June 1943, the Lakewood Rangers Baseball Team
won the Championship of the Metropolitan Scholastic Baseball League's Western
A few weeks later, Bobby signed a Minor League Contract with the Cleveland Indians
Organization, and was assigned to their farm team, the Batavia Clippers of the Class
D PONY League. He played in only 20 games, before the season ended, but he
managed to impress the Indians' management, by batting an average of .329, with
a slugging percentage of 415. Bobby was ranked in the top ten in the Class D Pony
League, securing the 10th spot, in just 20 games and 82 bats with 27 singles,
4 doubles, 1 home run, and six stolen bases.
The Indians invited Bobby to their 1944 Major League Spring Training, but he was called
to serve his country before the 1944 season got underway. Whatever greatness awaited
him in the Baseball World, would never be known. His own aspirations, and the hopes and
dreams of his entire family, FOR him, were dashed and destroyed when he was Killed on
19 August 1944, in a Training Mission Crash, of a B-24, heavy Bomber Aircraft, in the
desert near Tonopah Army Airfield, Nevada.
Just 4 short years later, the Cleveland Indians went on to win the 1948 World Series.
Would Bobby have been part of that team? The might have beens compound the
sorrow of his death. For his Family, and those of us who remain, we will always
carry him with us, FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS.
Newspaper Articles are from
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Baseball's Dead of WWII, Gary Bedingfield
2010 | Ohio
REVIEW BY Barbi Ennis Connolly; Historian and Researcher for the 57th BW and all of WWII.
Gary; *** WW II Heroes of the Minor Leagues by Gary Bedingfield, Author ***
"Baseball's Dead of WW II" by Gary Bedingfield
A great book. This is a great book ! The "Love of Baseball"..... This is an incredible "Must-Read" for anyone who appreciates "Dedication, Discipline, Devotion.... " Read about true heroes and extraordinary events of the men who shared a common bond..... "Love of Baseball". The integrity of the ball field to the integrity of the battle field.
Read about true heroes and extraordinary events of the men who shared that common bond. These are true stories of real men, young men, most of which could hardly have been called "seasoned" and they chose to fight. Every loss of human life is tragic yet many of these brave men actually choose their Greater Destiny.
"Nor shall they be Forgotten".
Gary has testified to the actual facts and the living tributes that our own home-grown men actually had dual-citizenship, so to speak, in the activity of Baseball and the Military. Men with real and very touching stories who had the statistics behind them to show that many were to have become famous Baseball Greats. Our "Heroes" as they were, either way. Showing they had strength and inner courage of such magnitude that it leaves little doubt about how many "Baseball Legends" there would have been, had they lived. Gary has captured the essence of each individual man, DEDICATION that in many cases led them to risk their lives to preserve OUR Freedom, at any cost, for more than just our Country, but for all people in all places.
Baseball instills 'Team Spirit', bonding with men from all walks of life and reacting for the good of ALL of the members. What could have been more instrumental in preparing these men for War ? Which attribute do you speak of 1st ?
Gary has captured the true essence of the real emotion of Commitment. . . . This book describes Honor and Integrity..... "American Patriotism" at it's finest. . . . From the Baseball Field to the Battle Field.
Some, maybe most, were absolutely ordinary men that were in no way "ordinary". Sportsmanship is a team effort, teamwork results in the end-goal of reaching out for the good of all. . . . Some were awarded the "Soldier's Medal" the very definition of which means they threw their own personal safety out the window in the space of a heart beat to save a fellow soldier. . . a Buddy ! Did Baseball teach them the skills needed to perform amazing feats of heroic behavior ? In this book are documented statistics, mixed with many types of personalities that were "greatness in the making".
Read these exciting stories of the men who were our future Baseball legends, who were serving their Country with the same dedication that would have placed them in the Hall of Fame. What else could possibly have been so instrumental in preparing them for War ? How could something as unimaginable and devastating as Pearl Harbor and the United States entering the War bring out such true heroes ? There were early losses and some deaths caused only by situations generated by the activity of War, as well as actual Combat Losses.
"These losses only fueled the American Spirit to burn brighter in both Baseball and in winning the War."
Sincerely, Barbara Ennis Connolly,
57th Bomb Wing Researcher, Historian for my Dad/Ed Ennis' 321st Bomb Group. WWII B-25 Mitchells in the MTO.
Dedicated to Bobby Gruss who died in a tragic training accident in a B-24 in Nevada.