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Al Niemiec

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Alfred Joseph Niemiec

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[edit] Biographical Information

Al Niemiec played in the majors in 1934 and 1936 at second base and shortstop. He is also famous for a precedent-setting legal case about returning veterans of World War II.

Niemiec, born in Connecticut, attended College of the Holy Cross from 1931-1933, at a time when several other future major leaguers were there. He began in the minors in 1933, hitting .306 for Reading. He spent most of 1934 with Kansas City, hitting .301, and made his major league debut on September 19, 1934. He was eleven years younger than teammate Lefty Grove on the Boston Red Sox.

Al was back in the minors in 1935, playing for Syracuse for whom he hit 15 triples. In January 1936 the Red Sox traded him to the Philadelphia Athletics and he spent that season in the majors as part of Connie Mack's team. He is listed as the second most frequently used backup, but in fact was essentially a regular for the second part of the season when the second baseman Rabbit Warstler was put on waivers in July. Unfortunately, he hit only .197 and never played in the majors again.

Niemiec was again in the minors in 1937, hitting .313 for Little Rock. He spent 1938 and 1939 with San Diego, and 1940 to 1942 with Seattle. He came back briefly after the war to play a few games in 1946. He had served in the Navy in the intervening years.

After he was released in 1946, Niemiec filed suit, saying that his release violated the spirit of the G.I. Bill of Rights, which gave returning veterans a right to employment at their previous employer for a full year. He won the case, in spite of Major League Baseball's opposition; the precedent gave payments to hundreds of former major and minor league players who were also cut by their teams upon return from service in the war. Source: Baseball's Pivotal Era: 1945-51.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jeff Obermeyer: "Disposable Heroes: Returning World War II Veteran Al Niemiec Takes on Organized Baseball", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 39, Number 1 (Summer 2010), pp. 9-14.

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