December 12, 1925: Birth of Gerald “Peanuts” Peterson, the “Pride of Proctor”

On this day in 1925, Gerald “Peanuts” Peterson was born in Proctor, Minnesota. According to baseball researcher Anthony Bush, “Peterson excelled in three sports at Proctor High School starting as a freshman—football, basketball, and track & field. He left school a year early to join the Merchant Marines during World War II. He developed severe arthritis and a heart ailment was discovered during a physical examination that prevented his entrance into the armed services. He was warned to never take part in strenuous exercise again. Peterson later found work with Coolerator in Duluth and began playing softball for the company team. When his health had recovered, he turned to amateur baseball. It was then that his speed and hard hitting caught the attention of Duluth Dukes’ owner Frank Wade. Wade signed Peterson to a professional contract in 1946. …He played 110 games as the Dukes’ center fielder in 1947. He hit .292 with 118 hits, 12 doubles, seven triples, one home run, 47 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.  He drew 82 bases on balls compared to 46 strikeouts. He was the Dukes’ second-best hitter on the 1948 squad when tragedy struck on July 24, 1948. The Dukes were en route to St. Cloud, Minnesota, from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when a chemical truck crossed the center line and collided with the team’s bus on Highway 36 between Western and Dale Streets in Roseville.” The driver and four members of the Duke’s team—including Peterson—were killed. You can read about that sad event here.

 

The grave marker of Gerald “Peanuts” Peterson in Duluth’s Oneota Cemetery. (Image: Ava Francesca Battocchio)

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