Walter French (baseball)
Walter Edward French (July 12, 1899 – May 13, 1984) was a professional baseball player who played outfielder in the Major Leagues, for the Philadelphia Athletics, from 1923 to 1929. He won the 1929 World Series with the Athletics.
|Born: July 12, 1899|
Moorestown, New Jersey, United States
|Died: May 13, 1984 (aged 84)|
Mountain Home, Arkansas, United States
|September 15, 1923, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 6, 1929, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Runs batted in||109|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Service/|| U.S. Army (1942–1946)|
U.S. Air Force (1947–1959)
|Years of service||1942–1959|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Aside from baseball, he also played football for the Rochester Jeffersons and the Pottsville Maroons of the National Football League. French was instrumental in helping the Maroons win the 1925 NFL Championship, before it was stripped from the team due to a rules violation.
High school and college careerEdit
From 1920–21, French attended the United States Military Academy and lettered in baseball and basketball. He also won All-American football honors during his time at the Academy. However, he did not graduate from West Point and left the Academy in the fall of 1922.
Professional sports careerEdit
The spring of 1923, French signed with the Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack. He was first sent down to the minor leagues to gain some professional baseball experience, however he was called up that fall and played 6 years with the Athletics as a substitute outfielder and pinch hitter. He had a .303 career batting average in the majors and made a brief appearance in the 1929 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. In 1925 he batted .370 in 67 games for the Athletics and was the top pinch hitter in the majors. Throughout his career, French also played baseball several years in the high minors, leading the Southern Association three years in hits, 1931–33. He was a good bunter and a very fast runner. Until the 2017 debut of Chris Rowley, French was the only alumnus from West Point to play in the majors.
In a six year major league career spanning 397 games, French posted a .303 batting average (297-for-981) with 142 runs, 2 home runs and 109 RBI. He recorded a .968 fielding percentage as an outfielder.
In 1936 he went back to the United States Military Academy to coach baseball and served as the Academy baseball team's coach from 1937 to 1942. At the start of World War II he went on active duty with the United States Army as a reserve officer. After the war, French continued on active duty in the United States Air Force.
He retired in late 1959 as a Lieutenant colonel and took up residence near San Jose, California. French suffered a heart attack in 1972, however his health held up and he still kept in shape by playing golf three days a week. He died on May 8, 1984.
- Davids, L. Robert (1987). "23 Guys with Hobbies" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 9 (7): 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Wagner, Lenny. Walt French, Society for American Baseball Research. Accessed August 13, 2017. "Walter transferred from Moorestown High School after his junior year to Pennington Seminary (now Pennington School) in Pennington, New Jersey. Pennington began playing football in 1879, making its program one of the longest-running in the nation."
- Crissey, Harrington. "Abner Doubleday Would Have Been Proud". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Grosshandler, Stan (1999). "Five Men I Wish I Could Have Interviewed" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 21 (5): 1–3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "Walter French". BP Bullpen. Baseball Reference. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference