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Hall of Fame Military Spotlight Series: Enos Slaughter

Enos B “Country” Slaughter is honored by the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation for his service during World War II. He served with dignity and pride for three years as a physical education instructor in the Army Air Forces.

Slaughter earned an athletic scholarship to Guildford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, but opted to stay with his older brothers and work at a textiles mill. However, he continued to play baseball and caught the attention of Fred Haney, a sports editor for The Durham Morning Herald, while he was on the Cal-Vel baseball team. Haney was known as the one who encouraged Oliver French, the owner of the Greensboro farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals, to extend an invitation for tryouts to Slaughter. At the tryouts in 1934, Slaughter proved his talent and joined the Martinsville Redbirds in the Bi-State League.

He played for other farm teams before making his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938. During his rookie season, he batted .276. In 1939, he led the National League with 53 doubles and 188 hits in 1942.

Slaughter enlisted in the Army Air Forces in August 1942, but didn’t report for training until after the completion of the World Series against the Yankees. This was the first World Series to be broadcasted to American troops stationed overseas. Enos took the time to speak to them over the radio, saying, “We played a great game today and we won. And we are going to finish this thing tomorrow. Then I’m going to report for duty in the Army Air Corps and join you.” Slaughter was true to his word as the Cardinals did in fact win the 1942 World Series and then he reported for duty.

Slaughter had his heart set on becoming a pilot and was assigned to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, but because of being color blind, was unable to attend flight training. Even though he was offered a position as a bombardier, he turned it down and became a physical education instructor.

The now Sergeant Slaughter, took his baseball talent to another level and was assigned to the 509th Base Headquarters Squadron and played for their team, hitting .498. He also played in a war bonds game in 1943 that raised over $800 million in war bond pledges. He was on the Army All-Star team that included Hank Greenberg and Sid Hudson, but they lost to the War Bond All-Star team.

He then went on a tour of the South Pacific with other baseball players, arriving in Hawaii in 1945. They were told that if they completed this tour, they would be quickly discharged once the war was over. His teammates were Bobby Adams, Joe Gordon, Birdie Tebbetts, and Howie Pollet, and they played games at Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima.

Slaughter was discharged in March 1946, returning to the St. Louis Cardinals where he continued his superb hitting by leading the league in RBIs and was a World Series champion against the Red Sox. He retired from playing in 1959, becoming a player-manager for a minor league team in Houston in 1960 and in Raleigh in 1961. He then coached the Duke University baseball team from 1971-1977. Slaughter was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 with a lifetime batting average of .300 and 2,383 hits.

The Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation recognizes Slaughter for his dedication to serving his country and the sacrifices that he made, modeling that of the great Bob Feller.

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