William “Billy” Herman was not only a talented second baseman but also served in the U.S. Navy in WWII. The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation is honored to recognize him for his service in the military and his long career in baseball. He demonstrated resiliency and heart during his military service that is inspiring to all.
Herman made his Major League Debut with the Chicago Cubs after displaying his early talent with the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. He batted .314 for the Cubs in 1932 and was a National League All-Star in 1934. In 1935, he led the National League in hits and doubles. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941, where he played until his enlistment.
On March 11, 1944, Herman enlisted in the U. S. Navy. He was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for training in 1944. In 1945, he started traveling with Navy baseball teams that visited the Pacific Islands and played at Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Saipan, Gum, and the Philippines. Herman was also a player-manager for the Aiea Barracks team in Hawaii.
Herman played in the Naval District League Championship in 1945, but his team lost to the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base. Despite the loss, he was selected to the Naval District All-Star team and voted the league’s Most Valuable Player. He also played for the National team, which won the Navy World Series in Hawaii.
Herman’s military service concluded when he was discharged in 1945. He returned to the Dodgers for a short period of time, before being traded to the Boston Braves and then the Pirates in 1947. With the Pirates, he served as a player-manager for his last professional season.
After retiring as a player-manager, he coached at many organizations. He started as a Dodgers coach from 1952 to 1957, then moved to the Milwaukee Braves staff for a year, before coaching the Boston Red Sox in 1960 and managing them in 1964. In 1967, he coached the California Angels, and then ended his career as a member of the Padres staff in 1978 and 1979. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
Herman had a long and successful baseball career, which he balanced with service to his country in the Navy. The Foundation recognizes Herman for his grit and sacrifice that he displayed during this time of great national need.