Ted Williams

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Ted Williams was born on August 30, 1918, in San Diego.  He grew up in the North Park neighborhood, at 4121 Utah Street, and graduated from Herbert Hoover High School.  He had offers to play professional baseball from the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees, while he was still in high school but his mother thought he was too young to leave home, so he signed up with a local minor league club, known as the San Diego Padres.  Williams posted a .271 batting average on 107 at bats in 42 games for the Padres in 1936 and caught the eye of the Boston Red Sox’s general manager.  in !937, the general manager for the Red Sox made a deal with the Padres general manager and traded Williams for $35,000, two major leaguers, and two minor leaguers.

In 1938, at the age of 19, Ted borrowed $200 from a bank so he could travel to spring training in Florida.  After a week of spring training he was sent to play with the Minneapolis Millers and then the Boston Red Sox.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II.  In January of 1942, Ted was drafted into the military under a Class-1A status, which should have been Class 3-A, because he was the sole support of his mother.  Ted hired an attorney who took the case to the Appeals Board and then the Presidential Board to get Ted reclassified to Class 3-A.  The public’s reaction was extremely negative, resulting in a loss of sponsors, like Quaker Oats and possibly losing the MVP vote.

Ted then joined the Navy Reserve in May of 1942 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He attended training in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Amherst, Massachusetts and continued with his baseball career.

On August 18, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Ted was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  While he was there, he played baseball in the Army League with Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, and Stan Musial.  The Service World Series with the Army versus the Navy attracted crowds of 40,000 for each game.  The players said it was better than the actual World Series being played between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs that year.

on January 28, 1946, Ted was discharged from the Marine Corps and he joined the Red Sox with a $37,500 contract.  In 1949, he got a new salary of $100,000 ($995,000 in today’s money).

On January 9, 1952, Ted was recalled from the inactive reserves to serve in the Korean War.  He attended eight weeks of refresher flight training and qualification in the F9F Panther jet at Cherry Point, North Carolina.  He was then assigned to VMF-311, Marine Aircraft Group 33, based at the K-3 airfield in Pohang, South Korea. It was here that Ted served in the same unit with, future astronaut John Glenn and Ted was Glenn’s wingman in some of 39 combat missions in Korea.  Ted earned three Air Medals before being withdrawn from flight status, due to a hospitalization for pneumonia.  His hospitalization resulted in the discovery of an inner ear infection that disqualified him from flight status.

Following his return to the United States in August 1953, he resigned his Reserve commission to resume his baseball career.

Through 2011, Williams was one of seven major league players to have had at least four 30-home run and 100-RBI seasons in their first five years.

Ted passed away on July 5, 2002, from cardiac arrest at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Florida, near his home.

You can find Ted’s biography on Amazon.

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Samuel Nicholas

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John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, authorized a captain’s commission for Samuel Nicholas, making him first Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Samuel Nicholas was born in 1744 to a Quaker family.  He owned and operated the Conestoga Wagon Tavern in Philadelphia and is credited with starting the Marine Corps.  Nicholas had many advantages early in life. At age 7, his uncle, Attwood Shute, the Mayor of Philadelphia; paid for him to attend the Philadelphia Academy.  What is now known as the University of Pennsylvania, it quickly became affiliated with the prestigious Philadelphia Academy.  He finished his studies at the Academy in 1759 at the age of 15 and became heavily involved with high society upon graduation.

In 1766, Nicholas organized the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, one of the first hunt clubs in America, and later became a member of the Patriotic Association. Two years later, he married Mary Jenkins, the daughter of a local businessman.  Shortly after Nicholas married, he took over the Connestogoe (later Conestoga) Wagon Tavern which was owned by his father-in-law. Nicholas and his wife had three children, a daughter and two sons, Samuel, Jr., and Charles Jenkins Nicholas.

Because of his established role in Philadelphia society, when the Second Continental Congress began looking for men to fight in the Navy, they contacted Samuel Nicholas to assist them.

Nicholas was officially commissioned as Captain of the Marines on November 5, 1775.  At that time, the Marines were officially started as a branch of the Navy ready to fight for independence on shore and at sea. The Marines were considered more quickly trained as combat fighters rather than strategic fighters.  Five days later, on November 10, the Second Continental Congress allowed two battalions of Marines to be enlisted. Later that month, on November 28, Nicholas’ commission was confirmed by Congress and signed by John Hancock. His pay was initially set at $32 per month.  When asked to design the uniforms for the Marines, Nicholas used a template from the hunting outfits of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, which used a leather collar.  He incorporated these collars into the uniforms, which is how Marines came to be known as “leathernecks.”

His initial assignment was to gather the men who would be the first Marines. Because of his business, the Connestogoe Wagon Tavern, it was assumed that he would know the type of tough men willing to fight.  He was successful in that endeavor and ended up gathering five companies of Marines.

In March, 1776, Nicholas commanded the Marine detachment aboard the Alfred with Commodore Hopkins in charge.  His first mission to Nassau in the Bahamas was a success. The Americans captured two forts, 88 cannons, 15 mortars, and other military weaponry from the British.  That raid was regarded as the most successful American Naval operation of the Revolutionary War.  He was promoted to major on June 25, 1776.

Soon after, Nicholas reported back to Philadelphia to resume recruiting.  He took the men he had enlisted with him to assist in the Trenton-Princeton Campaign, the historic battle in the Revolutionary War beginning on Christmas Day. In it, Nicholas assisted General Washington in defeating the Hessians in Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. After those victories, Nicholas again returned to Philadelphia in June 1778 after the evacuation of the British from the city to continue recruiting and training efforts.

Five years later, the 39-year-old Nicholas gave up his military life and resumed civilian life. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Cincinnatorium from 1785 until 1788, serving on the standing committee.  More commonly known as The State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania, it was established honor those people who “gave up everything to serve the Republic” during the Revolutionary War.  The Society is named for Roman General Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who quit his farm to fight for his country, and when finished with military duties, declined any awards he was to receive and returned to his farm.  George Washington and Alexander Hamilton are among the prominent Presidents of the Society.  Two years after giving up the Society, Nicholas died on August 27, 1790, during a yellow fever epidemic.  Because of his Quaker background, he was buried in the Society of Friends Cemetery, though earlier cast out of the Quaker Church because of his involvement in the military.  In his memory, the naval destroyer Nicholas was named for him on May 12, 1919.

Nicholas’ life and contributions to the Marine Corps have not been forgotten. Every November 10, the celebrated birthday of the Marine Corps (the day the first battalions were enlisted in 1775), Marines gather at the Quaker meetinghouse cemetery at Fourth and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. Because the exact location of his grave is unknown, Marines from the University of Pennsylvania ROTC program gather at an unmarked marble tomb in the cemetery. The Quakers are against war, the reason Nicholas was excommunicated.  When the Marines asked if they could hold a ceremony in his honor at the meeting house, the Religious Society of Friends was initially against it, but eventually allowed it on the terms that they keep it low-key. The Marines, therefore, come, lay a wreath, and salute silently before dismissing themselves every year.

To learn more about the Continental Marines you can find some books on Amazon, like the one below.

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Mike Ilitch

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Mike Ilitch Sr. is the founder of Little Caesars.  That’s right “Pizza! Pizza!” was founded by a United States Marine.  Mike was born on July 20, 1929, in Detroit, Michigan, and played baseball at Cooley High School.  After graduation, the Detroit Tigers offered him a $5000 signing bonus, Mike asked them to double it and they refused.  He went on to enlist in the Marine Corps and served from 1948 – 1952.  He thought he was on his way to the Korean War, when a general insisted that he play baseball for the Marine Corps in Pearl Harbor.

After his four years in the Corps, Mike signed with the Tigers for $5000 and spent four years in the Detroit Tigers farm system, playing for the minor leagues.  His parents didn’t approve of their son’s career choice, but Mike had a dream and he worked hard to fulfill it. To make spending money while playing ball, Mike convinced a nightclub owner that he should be serving pizzas. The Detroit-area businessman hired Mike to make pizzas in a back room.  Mike had stumbled onto an idea that was about to take off like a F-18.  With their $10,000 life savings and borrowing an additional $15,000, Mike and his wife, Marian, decided to open a pizza parlour in a Garden City, Michigan strip mall.  Mike planned on naming the pizza parlour ‘Pizza Treat,’ but Marian insisted that ‘Little Caesar’s’ (her nickname for Mike) would be a better choice.  In May 1959, Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat opened and now has over 5000 stores and generates over $3 billion each year.

Mike has expanded his businesses and now owns Little Caesars, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, MotorCity Casino Hotel and Olympia Development.

Mike attributes his success to the Marine Corps because the experience helped him become more focused and organized, helping him to set goals for his future.

I couldn’t find a biography on Mike, but if you are a Detroit Tigers or Detroit Red Wings fan there is plenty of team memorabilia available.

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Steve McQueen

steveMcqueen BARThe famous actor from the 1960’s and 1970’s Steve McQueen was a U.S. Marine.  He joined the Corps in 1947, at the age of 17.  He was promoted to PFC  and assigned to an armored unit.  During his three years in the Corps, his rebellious nature got him demoted to private SEVEN times.  On one occasion, after a weekend liberty pass, McQueen went “UA”  (unauthorized absence) and stayed with a girlfriend for two weeks until the shore patrol caught him.  He then resisted arrest and spent 41 days in the brig; the first 21 were spent living off of bread and water.  After this he focused his energies on self-improvement and embraced the Marine Corps values.

Later on his unit was performing a training exercise in the Arctic,  the ship that he and his unit were on hit a sandbank and threw several tanks and their crews into the water.  Many of them drowned but McQueen jumped in and saved the lives of five men.

In recognition of his actions, McQueen was chosen for Presidential duty,  in the Honor Guard protecting Harry S. Truman’s yacht. McQueen stayed with the Marines until 1950 when he was honorably discharged. “The Marines gave me discipline I could live with. By the time I got out, I could deal with things on a more realistic level. All in all, despite my problems, I liked my time in the Marines,” McQueen said.

After leaving the Marines, McQueen used the G.I. Bill to study acting at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse.  His acting career was very successful with 44 credited TV shows and movies, and 4 producing credits.

You can learn more about Steve McQueen, here. (click on image, below)

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