Luke Appling was a gifted baseball player and attended Oglethorpe College after graduating from high school. He left during his sophomore year to join the Southern League with the Atlanta Crackers in 1930 and debuted with the Chicago White Sox later that year. He embodied the values of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation with his determination as a Major League player and service to his country in the U.S. Army.
Appling enlisted in January 1944, and reported to Camp Lee, Virginia for basic training. Many thought that it would be the end of the 36-year old’s baseball career. He and his wife were optimistic about the war ending soon as she was quoted as saying, “Outside of baseball, Luke had never held a job for over two weeks.” Unfortunately, Luke’s service nor the war would end as soon as they had hoped. He said, “ducking bullets can’t be much worse than ducking some of those bad hops in the infield.” He maintained his love for baseball and positive attitude as his outlet during the war.
Appling was sought after by the Camp Lee athletics officer to manage and play shortstop for the Camp Lee Travelers baseball team but was transferred to a recondition service in March at Lawson General Hospital near Atlanta, Ga. where he remained for two years.
He was discharged on August 30, 1945, as a result of the rule that released men over the age of 38 from their service. After Appling was discharged, he returned to the White Sox and played there his entire career until 1950. He played in 2,422 total games and posted a .310 lifetime batting average with 2,749 hits. He was a seven time All-Star and a two-time American League batting champion.
After retiring from his professional playing career, he served as a minor league manager. He won pennants with Memphis in the Southern Association as well as with Indianapolis in the American Association. He was awarded Minor League Manager of the year in 1952 and was elected to the National League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964. The Foundation recognizes him for his valor, strength, and positivity that he demonstrated on and off the baseball diamond.