Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oldest Brownie Passes Away: George Binks, 96

George 'Bingo' Binks, the oldest Brownie, has died. 7-11-14 to 11-13-10
Here's a link that summarizes his career in baseball.

Surrounded by warm thoughts and prayers from a family that has grown and spread across the United States, George “Bingo” Binks, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, Professional Baseball Player, and master mechanic passed from the earth on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at the age of 96.



George was born on 11 July 1914 to John Binkowski and Teresa Lewandowski, the fifth of six children, in Chicago, Illinois.

To escape the shocking poverty of urban Chicago in the deep years of The Great Depression, George hopped a freight at night that was headed to the Southwest.  At dawn in Bloomington, Illinois George saw several hundred kids on a baseball field trying out for a minor league team.  At 30 mph, George and a friend jumped from the train, blackened by exhaust soot, into the trackside weeds. 

George was number 384 in the line-up.  He slept in the dugout for 2 cold April nights in 1933, stuffing newspaper into his clothes for warmth.  By the third day, George made the final cut and was paid a few dollars.  It was the first time in days that he had enough money to eat.  He changed his name to Binks, and later, was given the moniker “Bingo,” for his ability to hit in the “clutch!”

Thus began a baseball career in the Minors that skittered around the country, from

     Monessen Indians in the Pennsylvania State Association to the
     Owensboro Oilers in the Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee League to the
     Springfield Indians of the Middle Atlantic League to the
     Tyler Trojans of the East Texas League to the
     Wilkes-Barre Barons of the Eastern League to the
     Cedar Rapids Raiders and Charleston Senators of the Middle Atlantic League to the
     Madison Blues of the Illinois, Indiana, Iowa League to the
     Green Bay Blue Sox of the Wisconsin State League to the
     Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association

When the war broke out, Binks was classified 4-F, "not acceptable for military service," because he was deaf in one ear due to having mastoid trouble in his childhood.  Instead of sitting out the war and continuing his career, he sacrificed baseball to work as a machinist in a Studebaker aviation factory in Chicago, Illinois, producing war material for the war effort during 1942 and '43.

Late season 1944 George “Bingo” Binks was swinging a bat for the Brewers and was averaging over .400. So the Washington Senators bought his contract. In ’45 he played first base and outfield.  He batted and fielded left-handed. His RBI and doubles were tops on the team and he could have been ‘Rookie of the year,’ In 1947 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics, and in 1948 moved to the St Louis Browns.  In a five-season career, Binks was a .253 hitter (277-for-1093) with eight home runs and 130 RBI in 351 games, including 112 runs, 55 doubles, 10 triples, and 21 stolen bases.

After his baseball career, George worked at General Motors Locomotive in LaGrange, Illinois, where, over the course of 30 years, he became a master mechanic.  Management pleaded with him to stay 2 years past retirement, and he did.   The stories from his days fixing the ‘big machines’ at GM were as rich and savory as his stories about Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Yogi Berra.

George Binks Sr. 7-11-1914/11-13-2010. Late wife Ruth (Naus)and son Gregory. He is survived by his four children, Terrance,(Jenny) Shelbyville, Tn. Randall,(Claire) Mariposa, Ca. Jodee, Strauss/Wolff, Chico, Ca. and George Jr., D.G.,Il.

Ten grandchildren and ten great grandchildren George was a kind, loving, quiet, humorous, gentle man who possessed a deep and abiding testimony about life.  

1 comment:

  1. i happen to be on of bingos grandchildren.

    ReplyDelete