Walter Kirby Higbe
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut October 3, 1937
- Final Game July 7, 1950
- Born April 8, 1915 in Columbia, SC USA
- Died May 6, 1985 in Columbia, SC USA
Kirby Higbe pitched 12 seasons in the majors, winning 118 games. He spent all his time in the National League, playing for five clubs. His most notable years were with the Brooklyn Dodgers: he went 22-9 in 1941; 16-11 in 1942; 13-10 in 1943; and 17-8 in 1946.
Higbe also pitched 10 years in the minors, winning 111 games. The years in which he pitched full or partial years in the minors were 1933-1938 and 1950-1953. In 1953, at age 38, he was still good enough to go 18-13.
He entered the U.S. Army on October 16, 1943. He was assigned to the military police, but he was primarily there to play baseball. He received no basic training, and his duties were standing guard. But things changed and he was sent to the 86th Division at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. There he underwent basic training and was made a rifleman.
He soon found himself in Germany and in combat. Kirby was scared as he went into combat at Cologne; seeing dead bodies shook him badly. He thought to himself: "Hig, you are just like a dog. You will either get killed or won't so don't worry about it." His unit was used on many patrols and went through all of them with no one getting killed or hurt. He gave great credit to Platoon Sergeant Gardner. His unit fought all the way to Berndorff, Austria. Shipped home, Kirby and his fellow soldiers were preparing to go to the Philippines and shipped out. When they arrived there, they learned the Japanese had surrendered. Kirby was in Manila until March 1946, when he finally sailed for the mainland. He was discharged on March 26, 1946.
Kirby Higbe was a good old boy from South Carolina. No angel, he was a hell raiser and lived a hard life, until he found religion. A hard thrower, he was compared to Bob Feller in his time. He said: "I developed my arm by throwing rocks at Negroes and they of course returned the favor." Like Bobo Newsom, another South Carolinian, he liked to talk a lot and brag about his pitching. He had the misfortune to pitch for some bad teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies of the late 1930s until he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for three players after the 1940 season. He led the National League in wins and pitched in the World Series in his first season with the Dodgers in 1941.
- 2-time NL All-Star (1940 & 1946)
- NL Wins Leader (1941)
- NL Games Pitched Leader (1941)
- NL Strikeouts Leader (1940)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (1941, 1942 & 1946)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1941)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 6 (1939-1942, 1946 & 1947)