Robert Lansinger – Pitcher/Outfield
Note: his is player biography is part of our feature, The 29th Infantry Division’s Blues and Grays: the men behind one of the Army’s best World War II baseball teams by Drew Sullins, Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army
Unlike most residents of Baltimore who served in the 29th Infantry Division during World War 2, Robert Lansinger didn’t wear the blue and gray patch through service in the Maryland National Guard. He was actually drafted into the Army interrupting his baseball dreams. At the time he was drafted, Lansinger was playing for the Class B Lancaster (PA) Red Roses of the Interstate League, which were a part of the Philadelphia Athletics farm system. When he was drafted, Bob likely had no idea that after his initial military training he would end up in a combat division in Europe that had such close ties to his hometown.
Bob joined the 29th Division’s Company I, 116th Infantry on August 7, 1944, as a replacement soldier from the Replacement Depot, or “Repple Depple,” in G.I. slang. He saw plenty of combat with the 116th Infantry, particularly in the fall of 1944. Most Marylanders serving in the 29th Division’s infantry outfits were with either the 175th or 115th Infantry Regiments, 104th Field Artillery or 104th Medical Battalion of the Maryland National Guard, but Lansinger was assigned to the 116th Infantry, or the “Stonewall Brigade,” which to this day remains affiliated with the Virginia Army National Guard.
Lansinger was born on July 17, 1922, in Baltimore and grew up in the city. He went to Mt. St. Joseph’s High School, where he was perhaps the best member of the varsity baseball team in 1940. That puts him in some accomplished baseball company. Mt. St. Joe, as it is called in Baltimore, has produced over the years several capable Major League baseball players to include the recently retired possible future Hall of Famer, Mark Teixeira.
Lansinger was an accomplished enough ballplayer to be signed out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies organization and assigned to the Class D Tarboro (NC) Orioles. He would eventually get a brief shot with his hometown team, the AA International League Baltimore Orioles (not to be confused with the MLB Orioles established in 1954). Bob was initially a position player known for having a big bat but given his 6’3” height and powerful arm, the Orioles tried to turn him into a pitcher, which may have ruined his career. When it didn’t work out, the Orioles sold Lansinger’s contract to the Lancaster Red Roses. Despite promising beginnings, he never played pro ball again after his military service.
Bob returned home to Baltimore after the war and married his sweetheart, Virginia Cline, and went to work for the W.R. Grace Company where he would remain for 32 years. He enjoyed golfing with friends and watching the MLB Baltimore Orioles play. Bob and Virginia raised three daughters in Maryland. Virginia passed away in 2010 and Bob preceded her in death in 2007.
Continue to Wallace Wilford Kale – Infielder/Outfielder