Monday, September 14, 2009

The Brooklyn Dodger Train Crash

Before the start of the sixth inning in tonight's game Vin Scully mentioned a bizarre incident that happened on this day. (In Vin's broadcast he mentioned September 13, but I'm sure he meant today's date- the 14th.) On September 14, 1945 the Dodgers played a doubleheader in St. Louis, then immediately boarded a train to Chicago for a game the next day and a another doubleheader the following day. While on the train, the next morning at about 5 AM on the 15th, they hit a gasoline truck.

I recount this incident because it truly is bizarre and I had briefly mentioned this accident a few days ago in a Player Correspondence post featuring Cy Buker. Which adds, in my mind, to the bizarreness.

Anyway, I wanted to add to the story by retelling what Cy Buker said about the train accident.
"We were on the train from St. Louis to Chicago. Around 5:00 a.m. with train traveling about 80 miles per hour, we hit a gasoline tanker truck. The explosion killed the engineer, fireman, and brakeman and the truck driver. We were riding in a Pullman car sitting up. We couldn't get a sleeper with all the troops coming back home. It was quite a jolt to wake up and see flames all around the car. Since the cars were mostly steel, the flames went out in a short time. We had a double-header in Chicago, and I had to work one of the games."
Another source only mentioned train engineer Charlie Tegtmeyer as a casualty, but stated that both outfielder Luis Olmo and coach Chuck Dressen had minor injuries.

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