The night a Ram made 2 errors and got married

Bob David

Midnight wasn’t far away when the Anniston Rams made the six-block walk from Johnston Field to the home of W.G. Henry, pastor of First Methodist Church. A middling team in 1942, the Rams had just beaten lowly Meridian, 3-2, by breaking a ninth-inning tie and solidifying their fourth-place slot in the Southeastern League. The game over, they showered, dressed and headed south along Christine Avenue to their late-night engagement.

Bob David was getting married.

Born in Illinois, David was a diminutive second baseman from Mountain View, Missouri, who’d joined the Rams that spring and played basketball for Southwestern Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) during the offseason. He’d chased his baseball dream since signing with the St. Louis Browns and joining his first professional team, a Class D outfit in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, in 1938. Moving to Anniston gave David his first shot in Class B, one step closer to the Major Leagues. But baseball couldn’t delay him from marrying his childhood sweetheart from Missouri, Katherine Evans.

The future Mr. and Mrs. David set the date for May 19, a Tuesday. Three days prior, in a 7-6 home loss to Montgomery, the light-hitting David reached his Anniston apex — four hits and a noticeable show of support from Ted York, sports editor of The Anniston Star. In the next afternoon’s edition, York noted how David’s surprising performances that month had soothed the Rams’ disappointment from failing to land an infielder from Little Rock. “At first the blow to Anniston was severe, but Bob David, determined to say ‘I told you so,’ is keeping down the second base berth in such a style that no manager would dare bench him,” York wrote.

A 1942 clipping from The Anniston Star.

On his wedding day, David started at second base, hitting eighth, and went 0 for 3. He also made two errors, an uncharacteristic occurrence. The Rams still won, which allowed Manager Dee Moore to politely suggest that “under the circumstances, David played a smooth brand of ball,” The Star reported. With the game tied 2-2 in the ninth and David due up, Moore pinch-hit for the hitless groom. Wedding aside, the game still needed to be won, and was.

Soon afterward at Pastor Henry’s nearby home, the victorious Rams attended David’s marriage to Evans. Their Calhoun County, Alabama, marriage license said the groom was 23 (born in 1918) and the bride was 20. In reality, David was 29, according to his gravestone, obituary and military records, born Nov. 7, 1912.

Hitched as they were, the newlyweds had to delay their honeymoon; David started the next night at second against Montgomery. His previous distractions dissipated, he reached base twice, on a single and double, in the Rams’ 7-1 at Johnston Field.

A month later, on June 17, Rams president Loy Gunter gave David his unconditional release. The second baseman signed with Meridian, playing the rest of the 1942 season with the SEL’s worst team. Then the world’s realities — war, family, employment — took hold of his life.

David in 1943 enlisted in the Coast Guard, becoming a pharmacist’s mate. After the war, he enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1951, at age 39, he relocated to Springfield, Missouri, his wife’s home, and opened his optometry practice there, where it remained for more than four decades. Though his baseball career ended shy of the Major Leagues, David continued to play ball — softball — and eventually earned a spot in the Springfield Softball Hall of Fame.

David died in 1996 at age 84. He’s buried in Springfield’s Hazelwood Cemetery. His wife Katherine, whom he married late on a Tuesday night following an Anniston Rams game, died in 2002.

The Davids’ marriage license. (Ancestry.com)

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