Dr. Walter F. Jusczyk

Inducted: 2000
Born: 1918
Died: 1997

Walter Juszcyk graduated from West Warwick High School in the class of 1937. He left his mark on the school having been class president for three years, Journal Honor Roll Boy, All-State in baseball, and football captain of the Wizards. He rated with the best pitchers ever coached by Jack McCarthy. In 1936, West Warwick won the Class B baseball title and came close to winning the state title. Juszczyk pitched seven games in 10 days and hit over 300 during the playoffs. Walter was a pitcher with all sorts of pitches, featuring a knuckler. It is the most difficult pitch for a catcher to handle, and his catchers had to be on their toes, both in high school and college. Although his name is usually connected to baseball, he was an excellent end on the football team while playing for coaches John Kelly and Gus Olson.

He went on to Brown University and compiled a 6-2 record as a freshman. His overall record at Brown was 24 wins and 18 defeats, and every win that he collected he really had to earn because the Bruins of that era were not powerful offensively. He set all sorts of pitching records at Brown, including the one for most strikeouts in a season. He fanned 107 in his junior season and totaled 241 for his career ay Brown. He also pitched the most innings, 103 in one season, and 297 for his career. He also had the most wins, 18, and the most appearances, 42.

During the summer months while he was in college, he played baseball in the Cape Cod League and in the Twin State League for Groton, New Hampshire and St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It was while playing in those leagues that the Brooklyn Dodgers and several other major league clubs offered him a professional baseball contract. He signed with the Dodgers and played for Dayton, Ohio in the Mid-Atlantic League. He also played for Pawtucket during WWII for the Crompton Vets, a local amateur baseball team that performed well against the best in the area. Walter was the number one pitcher on the team. He gave professional baseball a year’s try but then decided he wanted to be a dentist and went to Tufts Dental College in the Bay State, He pitched for the Pawtucket Slaters, later the Pawtucket, Red Sox, while he was in dental school. One season, his record was 10-2. After graduating from Tufts, he entered the U.S. Navy during WWII and served as a dentist aboard ship.

Walter loved the sport of baseball and kept his hand in it, each year taking the mound in the game between the Brown Alumni and the varsity. His knuckler remained devastating. He once pitched against Bob Feller, the Hall of Fame great, at an exhibition game at Brown.

Walter was inducted into the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1971 with the following testimonia:
“Walter F. Jusczyk ’41
Hometown: Warwick, RI
Sport: Baseball
Year Inducted: 1971
Walter F. Jusczyk ’41 ranks as one of Brown’s finest modern-day hurlers. In his senior season he struck out 106 men in 102 innings and allowed only eight earned runs to post a scintillating .784 ERA. Using a live fast ball, together with a knuckler for his “out” pitch, Captain Jusczyk had a career record of 18-16, striking out 239 men in 296 1/3 innings. The Warwick, RI, native and Providence Journal Honor Roll Boy is the only Brown pitcher to defeat Providence College four times running. Jusczyk defeated Harvard five times in six meetings and, in 1940, he administered the only defeat of the season to Holy Cross. Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jusczyk’s career was disrupted by World War II.”

Walter was inducted into the West Warwick High School Hall of Fame in 1977 with the following testimonial:
“Walter Juszcyk is the best pitcher ever coached by Jack McCarthy and he went on to Brown University and set all sorts of pitching records, He was also a great end in football, playing for coaches Johnny Kelly and Chris Olson. In his senior year, the Wizards won the State Championship, the same year they won the baseball title. Juszczyk was a key player on both teams.”

He was the third member of the West Warwick High School Hall of Fame to be inducted. The other two are Jack McCarthy and john Kelly, two of Walter’s previous coaches. Looking over the roster of athletes who have donned the uniforms of the West Warwick High School and Brown University, the name of Walter Jusczyk ranks with the best of them. In accepting the award, Walter said, “My first choice in life was to play professional baseball, but that would add little to the war effort. So, after one summer with the Dodgers farm club in the Middle Atlantic League, I joined the Navy and served as a dentist on shipboard.”

In nominating Walter Jusczyk for entry in The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, the late Walter McLaughlin said:
“Dr, Jussczyk was a credit to his high school, his college, and his community. He and his wife, Ellie, were always ready to help at any charitable event. Aside from his great ability as an athlete was Dr. Jusczyk the man. He was humble and performed many good deeds for the poor and needy – this is the mark of a great man. He even gave up his career as a big-league pitcher to serve his nation.” Walter Jusczyk was inducted into The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2000.

He died on July 7, 1997, at the age of 79.

For additional reading:
Brown University Baseball: A Legacy of the Game, by Rick Harris, Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

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