Chris Hartje

From BR Bullpen


Christian Henry Hartje

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10½", Weight 165 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Chris Hartje played one year in the major leagues, as a catcher, hitting .313 in a brief stint with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939. The regular catcher that year was Babe Phelps, who was with Brooklyn from 1935 to 1941. Hartje was with Montreal in 1939 and 1940. His World War II veteran record shows he was a seaman, 1st class in the United States Coast Guard.

Hartje died in the worst accident in professional sports history, when judged from the perspective of the number of players killed. Traveling at dusk in a drizzling rain, the Spokane Indians team bus driver, en route to Bremerton, WA, veered the bus on a narrow road in the Cascade mountains to avoid an oncoming automobile. The bus broke through the cable-guard railing and caught fire as it hurtled 350 feet down the steep, rocky mountainside some 60 miles east of Seattle. Eight players were instantly killed and Hartje died from burns two days later. Among the survivors was Ben Geraghty, while Jack Lohrke had gotten off the bus earlier on the trip. Hartje's wife was pregnant at the time. He had joined the team just a few days earlier.

In the book Pete Reiser: The Rough and Tumble Career of the Perfect Ballplayer, Hartje in 1940 is described as a "much-publicized catcher who had come with MacPhail's blessing and couldn't stay off the booze".

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