Category: baseball

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These men’s spirit never seemed to be dampened

‘As the black soldiers marched, winter and
summer, rain or shine, night or day, they were always whistling or singing, to the wonderment of French and English alike. These men’s spirit
never seemed to be dampened. They always marched to music of their own making. There was a baseball game when an entire company of black soldiers watched
their team play a white team. At the climax of the game, when a black player
knocked a home run, his entire company ran around the bases with him – more than
two hundred laughing, shouting, singing soldiers, helping to bring in the score
that won the game!’

1918, American journalist in France –  New Outlook Vol 120  Sept-Dec 1918 – Photos: WW1 American soldiers in France. La Contemporaine.

“Sunday May 19 1918 – We have been…

“Sunday May 19 1918 – We have been having a spell of really hot weather. A Protestant Chaplain held a service for us in English. In the afternoon we
played baseball then sat around under the trees and sang.”

In Champagne Ardenne region, France, American ambulance
driver’s diary – Diary of Jerome Preston. Photo: WW1, Northeast France,
American soldiers and ambulance drivers singing under the trees after mass. La
Contemporaine, France.

“April 21 1918 – Fifteen fellows went to…

“April 21 1918 – Fifteen fellows went to
Fleury to play and witness a ball game with the 13th Engineers of Fleury. Poor
field and unfair umpire. Score; 13th E’s 9 — 641 Ambulance 3″

American ambulance driver’s diary in the Verdun sector Diaries of Samuel Keplinger – Photo: early spring 1918, France, baseball game near the front.

“This hand-grenade throwing is great exe…

“This hand-grenade throwing is great exercise for the arm. It’s a little different from throwing a baseball but it sure
does develop the arm and shoulder…”

1918,
Henry Nort, “A Message from the War Front.” – Photo: 1918, French soldiers’ hand-grenade throwing drill. Archives du Ministere de la Culture, France.

“I went over to the Tuileries Garden to sit in…

“I went over to the Tuileries Garden to sit in the warm sunshine. Several of
our American boys were playing baseball. Their lean, strong, young bodies assumed true
professional baseball curves as they pitched swift
straight balls. A little crowd of Parisians, old men, young girls and children,
gathered. They gazed open mouthed and with wide-eyed admiration at our handsome
lads. When a ball went wide of its mark a child would
dash after it and bring it proudly back, to the Americans. The boys were
chewing gum and ragging one another, but they always paused to smile and give
the French kiddie a reassuring pat. This American game of baseball was more interesting to the spectators than the great gun…”

Amercian suffragist in Paris – Behind the Battle Line: Around
the World in 1918
– Photo: April 1918, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris – American
soldiers playing baseball, Library of Congress – Here, awesome short video showing one of
these baseball games at the Jardin des Tuileries in Spring 1918.

‘This game was new to the French. The huge crowd of people and…

This
game was new to the French. The huge crowd of people and their enthusiasm were
the evidences of their friendly feeling for us. It was very thrilling to find
such hospitality and welcome so far away from home.

June
24 1917 – American ambulance drivers’s baseball demonstration at the Colombes
Stadium
–  It was reported that this was “the
first baseball game played in France
”. In fact, the first baseball game ever
played in France took place on March 8, 1889
during the Universal Exhibition, in the shadow of the
brand new Eiffel Tower

WW1
American ambulance driver’s diary – History of the American Field Service in
France
– Photo: Mission Centenaire

‘Disaster! All are plunged in woe! They have spread manure over…

‘Disaster! All are plunged in woe!
They have spread manure over our baseball field!!’

May 1917 American ambulance driver’s diary – From Poilu to Yank – Photo: 1917 American ambulance drivers playing baseball in Argonne, France

‘We left Paris this morning at 8 A.M and we…

‘We left Paris this morning at 8 A.M and we beat the
speed record! We will carry blessés at Verdun, replacing Section 1 sent to
Champagne. Cleaned up my car and we played a little baseball. It is certainly a
weird contrast — a quiet game of catch here, while just over the hill the batteries
are banging away.  I still cannot realize
that we are in the midst of death and suffering.’

Spring 1917 – American ambulance driver’s diary – History of the American Field Service in France – Ambulance drivers’ impromptu baseball game near Verdun.