Born: April 8, 1915|
Columbia, South Carolina
Died: May 6, 1985 70) (aged|
Columbia, South Carolina
|October 3, 1937, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 7, 1950, for the New York Giants|
|Earned run average||3.69|
|Career highlights and awards|
Walter Kirby Higbe (April 8, 1915 – May 6, 1985) was an American right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1937 to 1950. He was a two-time All-Star. He was born in and died in Columbia, South Carolina.
Higbe began his MLB career in 1937 with the Chicago Cubs before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the middle of the 1939 season. A hard thrower, he was selected to the All-Star team in 1940. Following the season, he was traded again, this time to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He enjoyed his most successful season in 1941 when he went 22–9, tying teammate Whit Wyatt for the league lead in wins and finishing seventh in the MVP voting.
After the 1943 season, Higbe joined the United States Army. Initially assigned to the military police, he soon received training as a rifleman and saw combat in Germany. In 1945, Higbe and his fellow soldiers went to the Philippines; however, when they arrived there, they learned that Japan had surrendered. Nonetheless, he stayed in Manila until March 1946, at which point he finally returned to the United States. That year, he posted a 17–8 record and made his second All-Star appearance (where he gave up a home run to Ted Williams), but the Dodgers lost the National League pennant to the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Higbe stayed in Brooklyn until just after the start of the 1947 campaign, when he was traded with four other players (one of whom was future Major League manager Gene Mauch) to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Al Gionfriddo.
Higbe began the 1947 season with a 2–0 record for the eventual NL champion Dodgers, but he insisted upon being traded when the Dodgers added Jackie Robinson to the team as the first black major leaguer in the 20th Century. According to Higbe, the Dodger players who were opposed to having Robinson on the team "didn't have anything personal against Jackie Robinson or any other Negro ... but we were Southerners who had never lived or played with Negroes, and we didn't see any reason to start then." After his trade to the Pirates, he collapsed to 11–17. He was traded during the 1949 season, to the New York Giants, with whom he finished his MLB career. He played in the minor leagues until 1953.
He died in 1985 and was buried in Columbia's Elmwood Cemetery.