Benjamin Shields, 78, Ex-New York Yankee
By Carla Van Cleave
Former New York Yankee relief pitcher Benjamin Cowan Shields, a native of Mecklenburg County, died Sunday in Woodruff, S.C. He was 78.
Mr. Shields's daughter, Sandra Griffin of Hickory, Tuesday recalled her father's stories about his brief career as a New York Yankee in the 1920s.
Mr. Shields played with baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
In one practice session, Griffin said, Ruth hit a line drive back at Shields, smacking him in the chest. The blow caused internal injuries and eventually ended his two-year career as a Yankee.
Mr. Shields told of giving Gehrig his first glove and teaching him how to play first base, his daughter recalled.
Mr. Shields grew up on a farm in Huntersville and went to Oak Ridge Military Institute in Oak Ridge, near Greensboro. It was at Oak Ridge in 1923, as a pitcher for the school's baseball team, that Mr. Shields was spotted by a scout for the Yankees.
Griffin still has the telegram her father received from the Yankees on Aug. 31, 1923. It told him to "pack his glove, shoes and undershirts" and report to the team at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington.
After recovering from Ruth's line drive, Mr. Shields pitched in 1930 for the Boston Red Sox. In 1931 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies and played for another year.
Mr. Shields then returned to the Carolinas and played on farm teams in South Carolina and coached Sigsbee-Fair Forest High School teams in Greenville County, S.C.
In the 1940s, Mr. Shields retired from baseball and opened Shields's Appliance and Services in Charlotte, which he operated until his retirement in 1965. He was buried Tuesday in Huntersville.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Shields is survived by a son, Benjamin Shields of Richmond; and a sister, Mrs. Sadie Amyx of Sneedville, Tenn.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, Wednesday, 27 Jan 1982
Shields passes at 79; Dawson, DeWitt die
Ben Shields who was with the Yankees in 1924 and 1925, passed away on January 24 at age 79 at his home in Woodruff, S. C. Shields, whose career was thwarted by injuries, died in his sleep according to his daughter, Sandra Griffin.
Shields was signed by Paul Krichell while pitching semi-pro ball and went to Pittsfield in the Eastern League. He joined the Yankees in Washington in 1923 and pitched batting practice the following day, which turned his career around.
Ben was hit in the chest by a line drive off Babe Ruth's bat. He shook it off, but two years later started to hemorrhage and x-rays showed that the line drive had injured Ben's lung, which became infected. He spent the next four years in hospitals for TB, which developed as the result of his chest injury.
Shields pitched very little after that, then in 1931 went into farming and real estate. After his wife died in 1974 and he had a serious operation, he unloaded everything and lived in a mobile home. He dropped in at spring training a couple of years ago and has been a member of the Yankee Alumni Association from its inception.
Source: [This is from the Yankee Alumni Association magazine, but I don't know the correct name of the magazine]
Submitted by Sandy Shields Griffin
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