|Birth: ||Feb. 12, 1922|
|Death: ||May 26, 1996|
Chicago Sun-Times, June 2, 1996
Donald R. Bollweg , Ex-Baseball Player
A memorial service for Donald R. Bollweg, a former Wheaton Board of Elections analyst who was a major league baseball player, will be at 10 a.m. June 11 in St. Michael's Catholic Church, 315 W. Illinois, Wheaton.
Mr. Bollweg, 75, died Sunday in DuPage County Convalescent Center, Wheaton. Burial was private.
He spent nearly 15 years in organized baseball, mostly in the minor league chains of the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees of the 1940s and '50s. He retired in 1956, and worked in real estate and insurance before serving on the Board of Elections from 1981 to 1993.
On May 13, 1953, as he substituted at first base for the Yankees, Mr. Bollweg hit a three-run homer and later a single that sparked a rally that gave the Yanks a 9-4 win over the Cleveland Indians.
A reporter asked colorful Yankees manager Casey Stengel who the new kid was.
"He's no kid," said Stengel. "He's 31. He's been knocking around the minors for a long time. His name is Boll . . . Boll . . . Boll Weevil, or something like that."
Mr. Bollweg hit .295 in 1953, then was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1954. He retired in 1956.
Surviving are his wife, Blanche; two sons, Mickey and Marty; a sister, Sr. Margie, a Catholic nun, and two brothers, Bob and Dick.
Note: Baseball-Almanac.com and Baseball-Reference.com give his year of birth as 1921; SSDI and gravestone have 1922. Thanks to contributor Carol Tessein for additional info.
Don Bollweg was born on February 12, 1922, in Wheaton, Illinois. "I played softball when I was a kid," he recalled some years ago," and didn't think' much about hard ball. My dad kept after me and so, just to satisfy him more than anything, I went to a Cardinal tryout camp near my home in 1941. I was pretty surprised when they gave me a contract."
The left-handed hitting first baseman joined the Washington Red Birds of the Class D Penn State Association his rookie year - 1942. In 112 games, he batted .295 with a league-leading 25 home runs and second-best 105 RBIs.
Bollweg entered military service with the Army at the end of the season. He was stationed with an armored division at Camp Beale, California, where he regularly played baseball. In 1944, he was assigned to the Army Air Force as a radio instructor at Sioux Falls Army Airfield in South Dakota, where – together with minor leaguers Frank Wagner, Gene Schlereth and Ed Gittens, future major leaguer Monty Basgall, and managed by Art Bramhall, who played for the Phillies in 1935 – he played baseball with the Sioux Falls Marauders. The team went undefeated and clinched the Little Sioux League title that year.
The Marauders were a powerhouse team and on July 14, 1945, Joseph "Roundy" Coughlin wrote the following tribute in the Wisconsin State Journal to Corporal Bollweg's diamond skills: "Don Bollweg at first is the slickest thing ever to step on first base around here in years. Don is a great fielder, a fancy dan out there, can reach out and cut runners off by inches with his reach and smoothness. He can rap that ball, when he hits that apple it sings brother where to go from here. And he is a long ball hitter, in the Cards park they would call him two bagger Don."
Bollweg returned to the Cardinals' organization in 1946 and played for the Columbus Cardinals of the Class A South Atlantic League where he batted a disappointing .222. "I almost quit the game," he later recalled. "It was terrible. So I went to an eye doctor and told him I was losing the ball just before it got to the plate. They found my eye co-ordination was really bad, but by the next season it was straightened out."
In 1947, the 26-year-old returned to form and was a South Atlantic League all-star selection for Columbus, batting .293 with 18 home runs and 115 RBIs.
Advancing to the Houston Buffaloes of the Class AA Texas League in 1948 and 1949, Bollweg then moved up to the Rochester Red Wings of the Class AAA International League in 1950. After batting .313 during the regular season with the Red Wings, Bollweg was called up by the Cardinals and made his major league debut – aged 28 - on September 28, 1950. In four games, he had two hits in 11 at-bats for a .182 average.
Bollweg opened the 1951 season with the Cardinals but after nine games he was traded to the New York Yankees and spent the rest of the season with the Kansas City Blues of the Class AAA American Association, where he batted .303 with 20 home runs. Still with Kansas City in 1952, Bollweg continued to demonstrate his power clouting 23 home runs for a .325 average and had a 27-game hitting streak, earning him MVP honors.
Aged 31, and despite having a poor spring, Bollweg was with the Yankees at the start of 1953, albeit on the bench. But when regular first baseman Joe Collins injured his right shoulder in early May, Bollweg took over in style. He hit safely in eight straight games but failed to keep the starting spot after Collins' return. "He's batting over .300," Stengel said at the time, "but Collins is hitting more, so Bollweg sits on the bench."
While the Yankees amassed an 18-game winning streak, Collins hit safely in 14 straight and took his average from .265 to .321. Bollweg, nevertheless, contributed to the Yankee success with some timely pinch hits and finished the year hitting .297 in 70 games. He appeared in three World Series games against Brooklyn in October, going hitless in two at-bats and being on the field as a defensive replacement for Johnny Mize in the ninth inning of Game 6 as the Yankees took the title. After being called out on strikes on one of those at-bats, Dodgers' catcher, Roy Campenella, came over to the Yankee dugout to tell Don that the umpire's call on his strikeout was the worst call he'd ever seen.
Bollweg was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics for the 1954 season and played 103 games but his average dropped to .224. He stayed with the Athletics when they moved to Kansas City the following season but appeared in only 12 games before returning to the American Association for the rest of the year.
Bollweg ended his playing career after the 1956 season and went into the real estate business, then later sold insurance. In the 1960s, he made promotional appearances for Wheaton, Illinois, developer Jay Stream. Stream was building houses in a community that would become Carol Stream, and Bollweg would meet with rospective buyers. From 1981 he worked for the DuPage County Board of Elections.
In 1993, Don Bollweg suffered a disabling stroke that left him unable to speak. He and his wife of 27 years, Blanche, quickly went through their life savings because of medical bills, The Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), an organization that provides financial help to former players in need, stepped in to help.
Don Bollweg passed away on May 26, 1996 at the DuPage County Convalescent Center in Wheaton, Illinois. He was 74.
--Posted by Gary Bedingfield.
Donald Raymond Bollweg (February 12, 1921 - May 26, 1996) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for three teams from 1950 to 1955.
He was born in Wheaton, Illinois, and after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942, served in the Army during World War II. He finally appeared in 10 games for the Cardinals in the 1950 and 1951 seasons, but was traded in May 1951 to the New York Yankees, and was named MVP of the American Association in 1952 with the Kansas City Blues. He played 70 games for the 1953 Yankees team which captured their fifth consecutive World Series title. In the 1953 Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was used as a pinch hitter in Games 3 and 4, striking out both times, and as a defensive replacement for Johnny Mize in the ninth inning of Game 6 as the Yankees took the title. In December 1953 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics in an 11-player deal, and he shared playing time at first base in 1954 with Lou Limmer. After the Athletics relocated to Kansas City, Missouri in 1955, he appeared in only 12 games, ending his major league career with a batting average of .243, 11 home runs and 53 runs batted in in 195 games.
First baseman and Pinch Hitter
Born: February 12, 1921 Wheaton, Illinois
Died: May 26, 1996 (aged 75) Wheaton, Illinois
HGT: 6'1 -- WGT: 190lbs.
MLB debut - September 28, 1950 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance - May 10, 1955 for the Kansas City Athletics
Batting average: .243
Home runs: 11
Runs batted in: 53
St. Louis Cardinals (1950-1951)
New York Yankees (1953)
Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics (1954-1955)
Before 1942 Season: Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent.
May 14, 1951: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with $15,000 to the New York Yankees for Billy Johnson.
December 16, 1953: Traded by the New York Yankees with Jim Finigan, Johnny Gray, Vic Power, Bill Renna and Jim Robertson to the Philadelphia Athletics for Loren Babe, Harry Byrd, Tom Hamilton, Carmen Mauro and Eddie Robinson.
Saint Michaels Cemetery
Maintained by: Michael Harrington
Originally Created by: Lisa Gerald
Record added: Jun 29, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 54294044