Levi W. McCormack (Chief)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6'1", Weight 186
Levi McCormack played eight professional seasons. McCormack is the son of a Nez Perce Chief; his great uncle was also a Chief and fought alongside Chief Joseph in the War of 1877.
A star left fielder, he was a member of the 1941 Western International League champion Spokane Indians. That year, he was an All-Star and hit .338/?/.485 with nine home runs and lead the league with 191 hits. He missed the next four seasons while serving in the Unites States Navy during World War II. (The league folded during this same time period.)
He returned to the Indians in 1946 and scarcely missed a beat, accumulating averages of .316/?/.468 with three home runs in 58 games before tragedy struck the ball club on June 24. A bus carrying McCormack and fourteen teammates was en route to Bremerton to play a series against the Bluejackets. While on a road in the Cascade Mountains, headed west, they were about four miles west of the summit when an oncoming car was driving in the wrong lane. This caused the bus to swerve and crash through a guard rail. The bus caught fire and careened between 300 and 500 feet down a steep slope. Eight players -- including player-manager Mel Cole -- were killed in the accident. McCormack suffered head injuries and missed the rest of the season. He later said of the incident:
"I saw the headlights coming toward us on the wrong side of the road. The road was slippery. Our driver applied his breaks. We swerved across the road into the guardrail. We went through. We went down. I've never heard such hell. I don't know why we didn't smash the other driver. It might have been better."
He closed out his career the next year, falling to .276/?/.381. Overall, he hit .308/?/.439 in eight minor league seasons. When the modern-day Spokane Indians created the Rim of Honor at Avista Stadium in 2007, McCormack was one of the four people inducted as permanent members. (Dwight Aden, Maury Wills and Tommy Lasorda are the other three.) He served as a mailman for the city of Spokane following his professional career. He died suddenly in 1974 at the age of 61.