Thursday, February 25, 2010

Those who served

There are thousands of baseball-related websites out in the world wide web. There are about 50 that I look at on a daily, or semi-daily, basis. One of the best I've ever encountered is the fantastic Baseball in Wartime. Of course, that's probably the old soldier and history buff in me, but its my blog, so it works for me.

One of the big debates around the sports world lately has been the issue of Shin Sho Choo, of South Korea, and whether he should do his national service. That's not the issue here, and I won't get into it. But it does highlight the issue of service/duty/whatever. During WW I and WW II, lots of players served. Many were wounded, and some never came home. Browse the site for more information.

We all know about Ted Williams serving twice, and Warren Spahn and Eddie Grant. One area of consideration many of us forget to look at was the contribution of the Negro Leagues who served. Fortunately, Baseball in Wartime has provided us a list. By count, there were 119 Negro Leaguer's to serve. Some of the noteworthy ones:

Richard A "Skeeter" Banks Richmond Giants Army Trucking company in N Africa, Sicily and Italy

Elmer Carter Kansas City Monarchs Army In N Africa and Normandy

Dan Bankhead Birmingham Black Barons Marines

Joe Black Baltimore Elite Giants Army

Lyman Bostock, Sr Birmingham Black Barons Army

Willard "Home Run" Brown Kansas City Monarchs Army

Marlin Carter Memphis Red Sox Coast Guard Saw Hiroshima and Nagasaki

James "Bus" Clarkson Philadelphia Stars Army Camp Clarkson, CA and New Caledonia with field artillery unit

Leon Day Newark Eagles Army At Utah Beach on D-Day with 818th Amphibian Battalion

Larry Doby Newark Eagles Navy Was at Ulithi.

James "Pea" Greene Kansas City Monarchs Army 92nd Division, anti-tank company. In North Africa and Italy.

Sammy T Hughes Baltimore Elite Giants Army 196th Support Battalion duri ng invasion of Guam.

Monte Irvin Newark Eagles Army GS Engineers 1313th Battalion

Josh Johnson New York Black Yankees Army Anti-aircraft unit. Red Ball Express convoy system.

James "Red" Moore Baltimore Elite Giants Army Served combat engineer battalion of Third Army

John "Buck" O'Neil Kansas City Monarchs Navy Construction Battalion.

John "Hoss" Ritchey Chicago American Giants Army Combat Engineer in Europe. Also seven months in Pacific.

Joe Scott Birmingham Black Barons Army 350th Field Artillery, 46th Brigade.

Lonnie Summers Chicago American Giants Army 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Alfred "Slick" Surratt Detroit Stars Army Served at New Guinea and the Philippines.

Henry "Hank" Thompson Kansas City Monarchs Army i695th Combat Engineers. At Battle of the Bulge.

Al "Apples" Wilmore Philadelphia Stars Army 595th Field Artillery Battalion, 93rd Division.

Even though most of these players were denied a chance to play at the highest level, they ended up serving their country at it's highest level. In my opinion. Kudos to these guys for serving, because many of them volunteered, and weren't just drafted. That probably helped when it was time to end segregation in the majors.

If they can fight and die on Okinawa and Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, they can play baseball in America.

Baseball Commissioner AB "Happy" Chandler

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