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Subject: Tony King, Captain of 1934 Springfield, MA American legion baseball team who gave up their chance at a national championship when their African-American teammate Ernest "Bunny" Taliaferro was not allowed to play.

Dies at 102
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Date Posted: Saturday, April 11, 03:49:45pm


Anthony E. King, 102, died peacefully at the Holyoke Soldiers Home on April 9, 2020. He was born Jan. 29, 1918, and was a lifelong resident of West Springfield. Tony was a 1935 graduate of Cathedral High School where he played baseball and basketball, and was honored in its Sports Hall of Fame. He worked 45 years at American Bosch, where he also played baseball and basketball in the Triple A Industrial League. Tony was also a lifelong avid golfer. During World War II, he served for three years as a radioman in the US Navy. He belonged to American Legion Post 207 and St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church.

Tony was the captain of the 1934 American Legion Post 21 baseball team, whose players took a courageous stand against racism to support their African-American friend and teammate, Ernest “Bunny” Taliaferro. The group of 15- and 16-year olds gave up their chance at a national championship when they learned that Gastonia, North Carolina, officials of an Eastern Sectional tournament would not allow Bunny to play. The Springfield players agreed, “If he doesn’t play, neither do we,” and they chose to withdraw, returning home to a hero’s welcome. There is a monument at Forest Park which honors the 1934 team. Two books written by Richard Andersen and a documentary film produced by Rich McGrath tell this team’s amazing story. The documentary is archived in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Tony was predeceased by his parents, Mary (Wiskocil) and Walter King, beloved wife of 45 years, Charlotte (Hall) King, and sisters: Margaret Hocker, Anna Bradley, Susan Hemsworth, Mary Frey and Francis O’Connor.

Tony is survived by his loving family: nieces Pat Mergerian, Barbara Wilson, Cathy O’Connor, Ann Haskell and husband Don, and Carol Andras, and nephews Jackie Frey and wife Joan, Gene and wife Kathy, Walter and wife Mary Frey, Ray Lopes and wife Kathy. He also leaves his sister-in-law, Ruth Lopes and husband Ray, along with several dear friends: Garry and Mary Brown, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Michael Borecki, Brian Collins and so many others.

Tony’s family would like to extend very special thanks to Tony’s amazing caregivers at the Soldiers’ Home: Dr. Byrne, Kim and so many other fantastic nurses and CNAs, social worker Carrie, and recreation staff Maggie and Michelle. We also appreciate the National Guard for their wonderful care and assistance during the past few weeks.

A private burial will take place in St. Thomas Cemetery and a public funeral will be held in the future, when it is safe to do so. The West Springfield Curran-Jones Funeral Home is handling all arrangements. For online condolences, please visit curranjones.com. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice, or to a family adversely affected by this pandemic.

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BackstoryLinkSaturday, April 11, 03:50:45pm

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