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Fred Chapman

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This page links to Fred Chapman, an infielder active from 1939 to 1941. For the pitcher once called Fred Chapman who was erroneously thought to have been the youngest player in baseball history, see Frank Chapman

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William Fred Chapman
(Chappie)

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South Carolina native Fred Chapman spent fifteen active seasons in professional baseball from 1935 to 1953. He also spent four years (1942-1945) serving in the Pacific with the United States Navy during World War II. The 18-year-old infielder was signed by the Washington Senators organization before the 1935 season and assigned to their minor league affiliates. He spent three seasons as a Senators farmhand before being traded on September 10, 1937 to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Ben Geraghty and Jack Radtke.

Chapman spent the next two seasons in the minors with the Trenton Senators of the class A Eastern League in 1938 and the Springfield Nationals of the same league in 1939. The Philadelphia Athletics acquired Fred in an unknown transaction in late season and he made his debut with the Athletics on September 15, 1939. He appeared in 15 games at the shortstop position, where he hit at a .286 clip and fielded at a .952 percentage in his first shot at the big leagues.

Chapman was back with the Athletics for another short trial in 1940, hitting just .159 and fielding at a .953 percentage in 25 games. Fred would spend the remainder of the year with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, hitting .283 with six home runs in 119 games. "Chappie" would spend the entire 1941 season with the Athletics. He appeared in just 35 games, hit .159 again and played his position at about the same pace. This turned out to be his last shot at the big leagues and he ended his three-year trial with a .193 batting average and a .952 fielding percentage while appearing in a total of 76 games.

Chapman was back in baseball after his return from the military service in 1946. He spent the next three seasons (1946-1948) with the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the Eastern League, the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League and the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, hitting very close to the .250 mark over the three-year period. Fred then became a player-manager in the class D North Carolina State League for three seasons (1949-1951) and finished up his minor league run in the same capacity with the Statesville Blues of the Tar Heel League in 1953. Fred ended his minor league career after the 1953 season, with a .279 hitting average and 72 home runs while appearing in 1,568 games.

After baseball, Chapman worked and resided in his native Liberty, SC until his retirement. He passed away on March 27, 1997 in Kannapolis, NC, at the age of 80.

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