“DID YOU KNOW”
A Philadelphia PGA pro was the only person to play in a World Series and a Masters!
Samuel Dewey “Sam” Byrd was born October 15, 1907 in Bremen, GA and grew up in Birmingham, AL. As a young boy he learned to play golf as a caddy. In high school he was a star on the basketball and baseball teams.
In 1926, at age 18, he began a professional baseball career in Class D. He batted .348 and was promoted to Class B Knoxville, where he hit .331 in 1927. The New York Yankees purchased his contract and sent him to Albany, NY, which was in the Class A Eastern League. At Albany he batted .371 and was invited to the Yankees spring training in 1929, where he made the team.
At that time the Yankees had three great outfielders; Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel and Earle Combs. Byrd was relegated to pinch hitting, pinch running and playing in the late innings as a defensive replacement along with filling in for Ruth when he was not feeling well from too much beer or too many hot dogs. Byrd was a great defensive outfielder, with a rifle arm and legs to match.
In late 1934 the Yankees released the aging Ruth. They were bringing Joe DiMaggio up from the Pacific Coast League. After six seasons with the Yankees, Byrd was no longer needed. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, where he played two years before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. That is when he decided to leave baseball and concentrate on golf. His batting average for his eight major league seasons was .274. Baseball historians later wrote that Byrd’s baseball career was wasted sitting on the Yankees bench during his prime years.
Byrd had turned pro in 1933, playing in a few professional tournaments during the winter months, but now he was all in. Philadelphia Country Club professional Ed Dudley hired Byrd as an assistant. In 1939 he won the Philadelphia Open. The next year he moved over to Merion Golf Club as an assistant. During his four years at Merion, Byrd won the 1942 Pennsylvania Open and won twice on the PGA Tour; 1942 Greensboro Open and 1943 Chicago Victory Open.
In 1940 Byrd was invited to play in the Masters Tournament. At that time the tournament was strictly an invitational tournament. A player was there solely at the invitation of Bobby Jones. It may have helped that Dudley, his boss at Philadelphia CC, was also the professional at Augusta National GC as well. The next year Byrd finished third in the Masters, and a year later he finished fourth. In 1945 as the professional at the Plum Hollow CC in Detroit, Byrd was runner-up to Byron Nelson in the PGA Championship.
In spite of getting a late start in professional golf, and the cancellation of tournaments during World War II Byrd played in 5 Masters, 9 US Opens and 6 PGA Championships. During his career he won eleven professional tournaments of note.
Late in one of the 1932 World Series games Byrd played one inning. Today he is still the only person to play in both a World Series and a Masters Tournament.
Pete; Thanks again. Yesterday I just read the new book of Lou Gehrig columns. He would write and sell to newspapers. They were just now put together in a book form. Thank you for these great stories of the past golf played in Philadelphia. I know Dad would have enjoyed.