Charles S. Kress, 92, Major League ballplayer

CharlesS. Kress
CharlesS. Kress
Posted: March 15, 2014

Charles S. Kress, 92, a native Philadelphian who went on to play major league baseball, died Tuesday, March 4, of heart failure at a nursing home in Colville, Wash.

Mr. Kress made his debut on April 16, 1947, with the Cincinnati Reds. His final game was played in July 1954 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He told his family he was thrilled to be "batting in Yankee Stadium at the same plate as baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig."

Mr. Kress graduated from Frankford High with honors. While playing sandlot baseball, he was noticed by the school's baseball coach, who pushed him to try out for the high school team even though he was a senior.

Not only did he make the cut, he led the team to a championship win, said his son Ken.

Mr. Kress was selected as the first-team first baseman for the All-Public school team of Philadelphia. While playing, he was again noticed by someone who counted, his son said.

This time, a baseball scout asked if Mr. Kress would be interested in playing professionally. He agreed, and began a major league career that spanned four seasons and 175 games. His career batting average was .249.

Before the 1940 season, he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent, but he took time out to enlist in the Army. He was deployed during World War II as a physical trainer in Florida and Mississippi.

After the war, the 6-foot, 190-pound first baseman returned to baseball. He batted and threw left-handed.

Between 1947 and 1954, he played at various times for the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, and the Dodgers. Afterward, he became a coach for a minor-league team.

Mr. Kress told his son he was proudest of being honored on two occasions at Connie Mack Stadium on "Charlie Kress Days."

Retiring from baseball in 1961, he began a second career at Tasty Baking Co. He rose to vice president of shipping and supplies.

When his parents' health failed, he retired in 1973, and bought a resort on Rush Lake, near Perham, Minn., so that he could care for them.

In 2002 he moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, where he enjoyed fishing. He lived in a senior complex, where he made friends and kept conversations lively before moving to a nursing facility in September 2013.

He had married his high school sweetheart, the former Margaret Keir, in 1942. The couple had three children. She died in 1977.

Surviving, beside his son, are another son, Charles Jr.; daughter Carol Olson; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for the spring.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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