Lucky Lohrke

Alliteration, a literary device wherein an adjective modifying a noun following it begins with the same letter as the noun. The “slithering salmon swam up stream” is such an example.

Sportswriters for decades have given alliterative nicknames to players that memorialized the athletes forever. The names are also recognizable in having matching syllable counts. Here is one such player………

“Lucky” Lohrke was an infielder for the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies who led a very charmed life. A big leaguer for six seasons, he enjoyed moderate success but is best remembered for what he did off the field.

A combat soldier during WW II, he survived a troop train crash that killed three others and injured dozens more. It was to be the first of several experiences he would have that would earn him the nickname, “Lucky Lohrke.”

He took part in the D-Day Normandy landings as well as the Battle of The Bulge, and extensive combat throughout Europe during which action four fellow soldiers next to him in separate battles were killed.

Returning from the war, Lohrke had to concede his seat in a military transport plane heading out of Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, to his home in Los Angeles, to a higher ranked soldier. The plane crashed on its way to the West Coast, killing everybody on board.

After the war, Jack resumed his baseball career, playing third base for the Class B Spokane Indians of the Western International League In 1946.

On June 26th of that year, he was a passenger on the team bus as it traveled towards Bremerton, Washington, to begin a road trip. Lohrke had been having a fine year, batting .345 in 229 at bats. His performance had earned him a promotion to the San Diego Padres, then a member of the AAA Pacific Coast League.

The team was unable to contact him as he was in transit between cities. The police were contacted and asked to relay the good news to Jack, who was having dinner at a diner with the team. He was instructed to leave immediately and report to the Padres. He gathered his gear, left the bus and hitched rides back to Spokane. Later that night, that bus broke through a guard rail, plunged down a mountain pass, and crashed. Of the 15 players on the bus, nine were killed, and all six survivors were badly injured.

After baseball, Jack had a fine career with the Lockheed  Corporation, rising to the position of Head of Security. He came to hate the nickname of Lucky Jack Lohrke, and later in life he demurred from its use when reminded of it. He died from complications of a stroke in 2009.

As a kid, I recall Jack coming to the plate against my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, and listening as announcer after announcer chanted the happenings that made the nickname impossible to ignore.

I also remember Lucky Lohrke having a lot of good luck against Dodger pitching.

6 responses to “Lucky Lohrke

  1. Coach that was a great story!

  2. Thanks, Stacy, glad you liked it.

  3. Hey Coach Reese it’s Meghan O’Keefe we met at Oxford Exchange. I work in St. Pete now so I have not been there in a while. Hope all is well. Still trying to keep up with the blog. Looking forward to football season, hope all is well!

  4. Hi, Meghan. Good to hear from you. Miss you. Your dad and I communicate often. Hawkeyes and Gophers getting ready to play each other 10/6. Should be a great game.🏈🏈🏈🏈

  5. Great story, Coach! I also was a Dodger fanatic, my favorite player being Duke Snider. Even got to meet Jackie Robinson once. Loved dem bums!

  6. Had to love Dem Bums. Sufferred all those years until Johnny Podres pitched that magnificent game in 1955. Be well!

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