Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coming in 2015 . . .


Were happy to announce that McFarland & Co. will publish a second book about baseball in World War I. Written by author Jim Leeke, who brought you Ballplayers in the Great War, it will chronicle the history of the Anglo-American Baseball League. This American and Canadian military circuit played in and around London in 1918. The working title of the new book is The King’s Game.
The photo above was taken on July 4 at the Stamford Bridge football (soccer) ground in Chelsea. It shows King George V meeting U.S. Navy Yeoman First Class Mike McNally of the Boston Red Sox. That’s Admiral William Sims, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe, watching the King shake hands with “Minooka Mike,” who also played later with the Yankees.
Check back again for more on the coming book.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Praise for 'Ballplayers' . . .

"The book is a worthy addition to the McFarland Historical Baseball Library series … recommended for hard-core baseball fans who will enjoy thinking of the Hall of Fame fantasy team they could put together from soldiers and sailors. … Part of the book’s fun is also learning about the lively personalities of lesser-known players." — Jhistory, H-Net Reviews

"Leeke’s book, using articles from more than six dozen publications, shows what happens when ballplayers are taken out of their element and thrown into another common, concentrated endeavor — one in which winning and losing have more lasting repercussions. Deadball devotees should consider it a necessary addition to the literature on the subject." — The Inside Game

Nominated for the 2014 Larry Ritter Book Award



Monday, November 11, 2013

The eleventh hour . . . .



Captain Eddie Grant,
New York Giants.
Killed in action, Argonne Forrest,
while attempting to rescue the Lost Battalion.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Front and center . . .

Some of baseball’s greatest names left the diamond for the armed forces or contributed to the effort in other useful ways during the First World War. Ballplayers in the Great War tells how all these men served:
  • Ty Cobb
  • Christy Mathewson
  • Tris Speaker
  • Eddie Collins
  • Johnny Evers
  • Rabbit Maranville
  • Casey Stengel
  • Hank Gowdy
  • Eddie Grant
  • Joe Jackson
  • Wally Pipp
  • Herb Pennock
  • Branch Rickey
  • George Sisler
Read all their stories and more. Order your copy of Ballplayers in the Great War today!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Leading the way . . .

Ballplayers in the Great War gives you actual news articles about big-league players in the armed forces during the World War—the first one, before they had numbers. Many of these men naturally played ball during their time in uniform, and a few even managed teams.
Here are five players who became skippers in the army and navy:
  • Jack Barry, Red Sox – Charlestown Navy Yard, Massachusetts
  • Hal Janvrin, Red Sox – Camp Devens, Massachusetts
  • Duffy Lewis, Red Sox – Mare Island Navy Yard, California
  • Phil Chouinard, White Sox – Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois
  • John Lavan, Senators – Great Lakes, following Chouinard
Read about these military managers and others in Ballplayers in the Great War.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Over there . . .

Ballplayers in the Great War offers hundreds of articles about big leaguers in the armed forces from 1917 to 1919. A few stories are sad, many are funny, and most are forgotten today. Here are a few favorites:
  • Eddie Grant and Moose McCormick in France, where one died and the other was shell-shocked
  • Leon Cadore’s service in the trenches, leading African-American troops
  • Hank Gowdy and his army life in Germany after the armistice
  • Johnny Evers “over there,” and the story of the dead doughboy’s baseball
  • A peacetime truck crash in France that almost killed two major leaguers
Read about these incidents and more in Ballplayers in the Great War.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The little corporal . . .

Not everyone profiled in Ballplayers in the Great War actually played in the big leagues. Brownie Burke was instead a former mascot for the Cincinnati Reds. Unlike modern costumed characters like the San Diego Chicken or Phillie Phanatic, he was more a good-luck charm and clubhouse friend.
Brownie was a tiny man from Helena, Montana, “hardly more than a midget in size.” For a while he also performed on the vaudeville stage. Despite his size, he talked his way into the army. He made corporal and served “over there” in France with the 90th Division.
Read more of Brownie Burke’s remarkable story in Ballplayers in the Great War.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day is done . . .

Ballplayers in the Great War tells about several big leaguers who died during the “war to end all wars.” You probably know Eddie Grant, but maybe not the others. Most played briefly in the majors, a couple in only a single game. Here are their names:
·      Alex Burr – NY Yankees, air crash
·      Larry Chappell – White Sox and Braves, influenza
·      Eddie Grant – NY Giants, killed in action
·      Newt Halliday – Pittsburgh Pirates, pneumonia
·      Mark Milligan – Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, air crash
·      Ralph Sharman – Philadelphia Athletics, drowned in training
·      Bun Troy – Detroit Tigers, killed in action
Read about their service and passing in Ballplayers in the Great War.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The baseball match . . .

The tenth and final chapter of Ballplayers in the Great War is The King’s Game. On the Fourth of July, 1918, King George V and much of the royal family watched an Army-Navy “baseball match” in the big soccer stadium at Stamford Bridge, London.
Four current or former major leaguers took part in the historic game:
  • Ed Lafitte, ex-Detroit Tiger and Brooklyn Tip-Top, army pitcher
  • Herb Pennock, Boston Red Sox, navy pitcher
  •  Mike McNally, Red Sox, navy first baseman
  •  Arlie Latham, former star for the Browns, Reds and Giants, umpire
Both clubs played in the eight-team military Anglo-American Baseball League, based in London. More than 30,000 people watched the big game, including uniformed British troops and American soldiers and sailors. Pennock outpitched Lafitte in a beautiful game, navy winning 2-1.
Learn more about this game and its importance to the two allied nations in Ballplayers in the Great War.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saluting the officers . . .

Chapter 9 of Ballplayers in the Great War is Officers and GentlemenSeveral active and retired players earned army or navy commissions during the war. Most filled noncombatant billets as instructors, engineers, paymasters and medical staff. Here are some of them:
  • Cap Huston, Yankees co-owner, engineer
  • “Doc” Lafitte, Dental Corps, who helped repair ruined faces
  • “Death Valley” Jim Scott, army instructor
  • Ernie Shore, navy ensign
  • Alfred von Kolnitz, army training officer
Ballplayers also served in other ways. Johnny Evers went “over there” to France as a uniformed YMCA worker, bringing baseball and other sports to the doughboys. The Trojan returned with many funny and moving stories from the front. You’ll also be interested in von Kolnitz’s spirited defense of Joe Jackson, one of many ballplayers criticized for spending the war safely working in shipyards.
Learn more about all of these men and their service in Ballplayers in the Great War.