U.S.S. Maine December 1897 Navy Baseball Champions

There will be no baseball played today but I could not let what was scheduled to be Opening Day 2020 go unmentioned. Baseball will return before long. I thought I would share this extraordinary photograph of the U.S.S. Maine baseball tram taken shortly after they won the December 1897 Navy Baseball Championship is Key West, Florida. Two months later all of these men except J.H. Bloomer.were killed in the explosion in Havana. A very cursory search of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for December 1897 shows the North Atlantic Squadron, of which the Maine was part, leaving for Key West in what the Navy Department was describing as routine maneuvers, the squadron apparently moving to warmer climes when winter set in. How true that is is hard to tell without greater digging. Tensions with Spain over Cuba were already escalating rapidly and it is equally feasible that the McKinley Administration was moving men–like the ones seen here–to South Florida in case things boiled over.

Major League Baseball is hosting today what it is calling Opening Day at Home. Despite the social distancing one can listen and watch the thirty classic games, one for each team, at MLBTV. Whatever you are doing today, working at home or what have you, stay safe. And remember, baseball will return before we know it.

(image/Wikimedia Commons)