Sunday, February 15, 2009

Paul Bard: A baseball legend

Local sports broadcasting legend Jim Moyes has returned to to the local sports pages. Once a stringer for the Muskegon Chronicle, Jim has started to write a series of articles on local sports that will cover a wide range of subjects, individuals and teams. His first article from the series appeared in early February, and focused on a former Muskegon Big Red, Paul Bard.

Bard was a starred in football, basketball and baseball for the Big Reds back in the early 1940s "whose college career at Western Michigan University was cut short because of service to his country."

The full article is currently available on on the web. Click the following link to check out the complete version: Paul Bard: A sports and war hero.

Bard's career on the baseball diamond, as pulled from the Moyes article.

Beginning with his first game during his Junior year of 1941, when he no hit the Montague Wildcats, Bard would go on to have a high school baseball career that arguably was the best in state prep annals.

Thousands upon thousands of players have played the great game of baseball at the prep level in the state of Michigan. Sixty-one years after Paul Bard played his last game at Muskegon High his legacy has been restored. Miraculously enough Hall of Fame baseball coach Harry Potter's scorebook, found recently collecting dust in his daughter's (Ann Moore) attic, gives authenticity to Bard's achievements.

The Big Reds were a perfect 26 and 0 in 1941 & 42 and here is where Bard ranks in MHSAA history.

  • Career ERA (Earned Run Average): 0.76 No 3 All time.
  • Season (1942) ERA: 0.11 No 1 All Time.
  • Fewest walks Allowed in a Season: 5 in 1942 No. 1 All Time.
  • Fewest Wild Pitches Career: (0 in 120 innings) No. 1 All Time
  • Strikeouts in a Game: 20 No. 2 All time.
  • Assists by a Pitcher in a Game: 11 No. 1 All Time.

Bard also was the cleanup hitter for Muskegon and was a lofty slugger. In 1941 he posted a batting average of .524 and a slugging percentage of .881. For his two-year career (1940 batting stats are unavailable) Bard crushed the ball at a .439 clip. As a fielder Bard went through the two seasons without committing an error.

Bard followed his amazing high school career by posting very similar numbers while twirling in the very competitive Tri-State League. On Saturday, August 17, 1942 Bard hurled a 4-0 nine-inning shutout in a City League game.

In looking back this may have been a very poor decision on Bard's (or his coach's) part. Two days later a group of area Muskegon All Stars assembled to play the Detroit Tigers at Marsh Field. The Tigers absolutely "bombed" the outmatched area stars while only Paul Bard was able to slow down the heavy hitting Bengals. Pitching on but one days rest Bard allowed one run in his first inning of work and retired the side in order in his second and final inning pitched. What kind of impression might Bard have made on the Tiger brass if he was fully rested?

Moyes notes that in February 1943, less then a year after graduating from Muskegon High School, Bard joined the Armed Forces, serving his country bravely.

"There is no question but that World War II prevented Paul Bard from achieving his dream of being a Major League Baseball player." recalled former classmate and former school board member, Ray Carlson.

No comments:

Post a Comment