Billy Southworth Jr.
William Brooks Southworth
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 175 lb.
The son of Billy Southworth, Billy Southworth Jr. broke into professional baseball in 1936 with a .340 season for the Martinsville Manufacturers of the Bi-State League. He split 1937 for three teams, batting .282 for Martinsville, .265 for the Daytona Beach Islanders and .188 for the Asheville Tourists. He went to the Kinston Eagles in
1938, batting .283 with 14 homers and 78 RBI. A year later he played briefly in the South Atlantic League and Middle Atlantic League but had his greatest baseball success in the Canadian-American League. Playing for the Rome Colonels Southworth Jr. won the MVP award with a .342 average, 15 homers, 85 RBI and 20 steals. He was sold to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1940 and hit .280/~.357/.400 in 15 games in the International League. He also was on the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Interstate League that year, hitting .291 with 3 homers and 24 RBI.
In September 1940 Southworth became the first US baseball player to enlist in the military for World War II, joining the Army Air Corps. He flew 25 bombing missions over Europe, wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap, and became a Lt. Colonel. He won the Air Medal and Distinguished Service Cross and was given a movie contract. While training pilots in February 1945 his plane's engine gave out while he was taking off. He crashed into Flushing Bay and died at the age of 27. Southworth was recalled as a somewhat spoiled, charismatic ladies' man. In 1946 Colonels Park put up a memorial for Southworth.