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George W. Koby Jr., Wellston High School
Class of 1943

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   George Koby was born November 4, 1926 in Wellston, Missouri and attended Wellston Schools,  graduating from Wellston High School in 1943.   He lettered in all the sports offered at the school.  Baseball was his favorite game. George was tall and could throw hard.  At times he was just wild enough to intimidate most batters.   It may help when your last name begins with the letter "K", in the shorthand world of baseball the letter "K" is for "Strikeout".

   The classmates of 1943 were asked to pick special features to build from the boys in their class to create the "perfect boy". They choose George for his perfect "athletic ability".

   He tried out with 800 other young boys and just three in that group were signed by major clubs.  The Cardinals signed Joe Garagiola and George Koby, but Branch Rickey told  Lawrence Peter Berra (Yogi) he would never make a big-leaguer.  The Yankees signed Berra and farmed him to Norfolk, VA.

   Just three were signed out of 800!  Joe Garagiola remembers this happened when he and Yogi were 15.   If the date in the attached article is correct, all three boys were 15 in 1941.   George still had a year and a half of Wellston High School to complete. George's 1943 Contract is here he was 16+years old.

  He had major league potential and in 1947 he was listed in the Cardinal yearbook along with Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter and other famous Cardinal stars. (here)   Nicknamed Li'l Abner, Koby's 1947 team photo is here.

   Plagued with knee and arm injuries, George spent over 10 years playing baseball in the major-minor leagues.  He played Triple A ball all across the United States.  It was the best of times and the worst of times.  It was never about the money.  In the early years he made about $50 to $70 every two weeks during the season. The day to call it quits came after 1953, but the lessons learned about physical conditioning and playing while you are tired and hurt would never be forgotten.

   In 1983 George was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.  He went through the rigors of aggressive combined treatments of the 1980s with all of the side effects, and in 1986 he was told his cancer was too advanced and invasive to cure.  He was given 15 to 17 month to live. This is when George decided to prove them wrong.  He had a family to support and he knew how to condition himself.  George lived another 17 years. He passed away April the 5th, 2003.    He had a full 76 years, 5 months and 1 day.   A very tough nice guy!

   George and I were neighbors on Hobart Avenue in Wellston.  He played street ball with Norman Siebern, and Don Carter and my brothers, . He set the bar high and showed his friends that professional sports were within their grasp.

George William Koby, born 4 Nov,1926, died 5 Apr, 2003.  
He was a winner.

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1943 Graduation Picture
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Signed!  16 years, 9 months old








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In Memory of George W. Koby Jr.    1926 - 2003
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