I listened to the Mets come-from-behind, walk-off-with-a-homer win last night. They were down 4-0 in the first inning and won 6-5. Baseball is so conducive to listening on the radio. The Mets’ announcers got into a long discussion about the 1973 Mets-Athletics World Series, in which the As defeated the Mets in seven games. They had a good talk about Ray Fosse, the As All-Star catcher from the 1970s who currently does As radio broadcasts. Among other points, they noted that Fosse, Johnny Bench, Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk, and Thurman Munson were all born within nine months of each other in 1947.
While listening I was also doing a bit more digging on Dr. Robert D, Schrock and his World War I experience. He did his basic training at Governors Island in the middle of a heat wave in July-August 1917. Dr. Schrock was one of more than two dozen physicians at New York Hospital who in 1916 volunteered to go to Europe. By this time they fully understood what they would be getting into; it was the year of Verdun and the Somme. And it was not just the doctors; a full contingent of nurses, administrators, and orderlies all agreed to put on a uniform and go. It would have been more, but someone had to stay back and run New York Hospital itself. That is why the board of directors devised a plan deciding who would stay and who would go. Remember, the United States was not in the war yet. Nor was it a given that America would join the fight at all. Had they gone right away it would have been all about saving and repairing the lives of the various nations in the war at the time. Dr. Schrock and the rest of Base Hospital No. 9 arrived in St. Nazaire in late August 1917 and after a bit more training went to various facilities to attended the maimed. Schrock himself spent nearly three weeks in the front lines at the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres), which was already in full swing when the New York Hospital Contingent arrived in France and lasted in November. He and two other doctors were thrown into saving the British, Indians, Canadians, and ANZACS.
Schrock arrived in France as a first lieutenant and returned to the United States as a major aboard the Wilhelmina in April 1919. One gets the impression that his Great War experience was a big influence in his life. An Ancestry search reveals that he traveled at least twice to Europe in the ensuing decades. At least twice. I found conclusively that he returned to France in 1928, presumably for the tenth anniversary of the Great War. He came home from that trip aboard the Ile de France, one of the great and less heralded luxury liners. In summer 1937 he and wife Elizabeth traveled to Germany, returning on the New York in early August. One can imagine the sobering realization that a second world war was imminent hanging over that trip. It’s an incredible story. I know a few people who have been preserving and organizing their relatives’ Great War letters. If someone in your family fought in the war and you have their photographs and letters, I encourage you to document it in some way. The Great War centennial is an opportune time to do it. Each story is another tile in the mosaic.
(image/top, New York Public Library; bottom, The Wabash)
I wanted to share a few images from Decoration Day 1917. These photographs were taken near the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Monument in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Turn out was higher than for Decoration Day parades in recent years, which is not surprising given that this was the first Memorial Day since the call for war. The parade route was actually cut shorter in 1917 to accommodate the increasingly infirm veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. About four hundred GAR veterans marched in New York City’s 1917 Decoration Day parade, one hundred and thirty fewer than just a year earlier. Veterans of the Spanish-American War and New York Guardsmen recently returned from Texas fell in behind. All told, 18,000 men and women marched in the parade through the Upper West Side. For the first time ever there was a regiment of Negro troops included in New York City’s Decoration Day parade. Though many would not have grasped it at the moment, the perceptive understood that this was an early sign of the coming of what became the New Negro Movement.
That is Major General J. Franklin Bell, commander of the Department of the East on Governors Island, and Governor Charles S. Whitman on the review stand. In the two middle image, they are there on the right in the box. Conspicuously absent is Leonard Wood, though his spirit in a sense was present. Before leaving New York City several weeks earlier he had given his blessing for a parade of the Public School Athletic League. While the veterans’s event was going on, a separate parade comprised of 40,000 schoolchildren was taking place south of here.
Memorial Day also means baseball. Just north of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Monument in the Polo Grounds Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Philadelphia Phillies lost 5-1 to the New York Giants. He went on to win thirty games that season. The following year Alexander was in France fighting the Germans. The Yankees were in Philadelphia playing the other team from the City of Brotherly Love, the Athletics. The Yankees won a double header and held the A’s scoreless over twenty-four innings. The Dodgers, then still the Brooklyn Robins, lost 2-0 to the Braves in Boston. It’s worth noting that the American League was less than twenty years old at this time and very much a competing association with the National. American League owners consciously put teams in cities were the Senior Circuit already had a presence. It says something about the size and influence of Gotham that unlike Boston, Philadelphia, and other cities New York ended up with not just two but three teams.
Enjoy your Memorial Day, everyone.
(images/Library of Congress)
The New York Yankees play their home opener this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays. In 1917 the Yankees opened their season at the Polo Grounds versus Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox. Leonard Wood threw out the first pitch. I wrote about that two years ago on Opening Day. Here today are two more images of that event. This was 11 April 1917, in between Wood’s lateral demotion from the Department of the East and his move to South Carolina. Dorey had worked for Wood from their time together in the Philippines through the Preparedness movement on Governors Island. President Wilson had relieved Wood of command there a few weeks before this photo was taken. Wood however was still in New York wrapping up in preparation for his transfer to the Department of the Southeast.
Even more intriguing is the photograph below.The men to the extreme right are Yankee owners Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston. Ruppert is the better known today and was the George Steinbrenner of his era: a German-American who bought the Yankees at a low point and turned them into a juggernaut. On April 13, two days after this photo was taken, Ruppert and other German-Americans met with New York City mayor John Purroy Mitchel at City Hall to announce their formation of a Committee of Men of Teuton Blood in support of the American war effort.
All but forgotten today is his co-owner, with whom he bought the sputtering Yankees in 1915. Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston had served in the Spanish-American War nearly two decades earlier. In February 1917 when things were heating up with Germany he proposed a Sportsmen’s Battalion of athletes to fight should war indeed come. When it finally did, Huston returned to military service and served in France as part of the 16th (Engineers) Regiment. He eventually became the colonel of that unit.
(images/Library of Congress)
The above photo came through my in-box today and I thought that with the baseball post-season beginning this week it would be apropos to share. This is Babe Ruth saluting General John Pershing outside the State, War and Navy Building in Washington D.C. Ruth had recently joined 104th Field Artillery of the New York National Guard at Pershing’s request as a way to generate interest in the Citizens’ Military Training Camps. The Army needed all the help it could get half a decade after the Treaty of Versailles; the military drawback of the early 1920s meant that the United States again had a small fighting force.
A little digging shows that Ruth had sought a khaki uniform in New York but could not find one for his large frame. It is interesting to note that by today’s he is not that large. This is 1924 and he actually looks relatively slim, certainly slimmer than we came to know him as he grew older and stouter due to his excesses. It says something that a man of this physical stature would be considered stout for his time, and that a uniform could not be found in his size in all of New York. Ruth reported to the Quartermaster General’s office in Washington to be fitted early on May 28 and reported to Pershing for this photo op after that. Photo op is the right phrase: a basic search reveals several outtakes of the two men saluting, smiling, and/or shaking hands.
The Yankees were in Washington to play the Senators in on odd two-game road trip that lasted all one day. The Yankees and Senators split a double-header at Griffith Stadium. The Bambino went 3 for 8 in the two games. Ruth visited numerous Citizens’ Military Training Camps in the years after this photo was taken. By the endow the decade Ruth had apparently had enough; in April 1930 he informed Major General Hanson E. Ely, commander of the Second Corps Area at Fort Jay on Governors Island, that he was stepping down. Though again a “civilian” Ruth continued making a contribution, signing bats and balls to be given as trophies at CMTC athletic events until at least the mid-1930s.
They are playing the All Star game tonight in San Diego. During the Great War the best individual players of the American League did not yet play their counterparts from the Senior Circuit in the game that traditionally marks the half way point of a season. That is probably because the World Series itself had begun only in 1903 and the game was still institutionalizing itself. Still, even though the United States had not entered the war by 1916, baseball was catching on overseas; it was the war’s second summer and Canadians had brought the game with them when they packed their old kit bags and headed off to fight the Hun. There were even military leagues comprised of Canadians and other men from the colonies playing one another.
Men in uniform brought baseball to many corners of the globe over the course the twentieth century. The U.S. occupations of Latin and South America are what led to the rise of the Dominican, Puerto Rican and other Hispanic stars we see today. Baseball’s popularity expanded in Japan after 1945, though I hasten to add that the baseball was already going strong with the Japanese even in the 1920s and 1930s. William Howard Taft noted in the 1910s, after his presidency, that Filipinos were picking up the game during his years as Governor-General of the Philippines. Americans entered the Great War in 1917 and when they did of course brought their bats, balls, and gloves with them. Even stars like Ty Cobb ended up in uniform.
It is curious why the game did not stick permanently with Europeans after the war. Perhaps it was because the countries were too devastated and the populations of young men too damaged to take up the pastime. Or maybe cricket, soccer, cycling and the like were just too entrenched. Or maybe it was a combination of all these things. Again, I don’t know. We can only wonder might have happened to international baseball had the game not had more a fleeting moment in the sun during the First World War.
(images/Library of Congress)
I spent the morning putting things in order in the new apartment upstairs. I’d say 95% of our belongings have now been transferred up there. I am actually downstairs again at the moment because the gas and internet are not yet on in the new place. I came down at 8:00 am to boil the water for the French press before going back up with the brewed coffee and doing some things. It has been a stressful Memorial Day Weekend with so much going on, but I’m looking at it as a little adventure; it’s the only way. I’m going to finish grading papers tonight and my colleague and I are going to get together tomorrow and compute the final grades, which are due Tuesday midnight. It’s bee one of “those weeks” but I was thankfully able to get a few days off, which has made things so much easier. I’m looking at the bright side and seeing the move as a fresh start. We have even managed to throw away a great deal.
A friend and I squeezed in the Mets/Dodgers game last night on what turned out to be an unseasonably warm evening. The 1986 Mets celebrated their World Seres before the game. I must say that even thirty years and three Red Sox championships later I was surprised at how much it hurt to watch. Still it was fun meeting older folks–that is, people my age–enjoying the thing. Waiting in line at the john I had a good conversation with a couple of good-natured guys who remembered ’86 so fondly. Of course I didn’t tell them I was rooting for the other team during that great long ago. We got to talking about where the years went. I’m glad the Mets are home this Memorial Day Weekend and that we had a chance to go.
I noted happily that the Washington Nationals are also home this weekend. I don’t think it was planned this way–that would make too much sense–but it’s great when the Nationals play at home over Memorial Day Weekend. Rolling Thunder is going on. The President usually appears at Arlington. Baseball in the capital at this time seems so appropriate. It really should be an annual thing.
It’s Opening Day of the baseball season. I am listening to the Pirates and Cardinals on the radio as I type this. Living in Brooklyn it is hard not to think of the Dodgers this time of year, especially with this being Vin Scully’s final year. It’s hard and sad to imagine.
One of the great Brooklyn players was Rube Marquard, who went 13-6 with a 1.58 ERA in 1916. Two years later Marquand and another Brooklyn Robin, as the team was called at that time, enlisted in the Navy when the team was on a road trip in Chicago. Incredibly Marquard even pitched that day–Saturday 20 July 1918–going seven innings and giving up one earned run but getting a no-decision in a 6-4 Brooklyn win. Marquard did not directly enter the Navy. Secretary of War Newton Baker was still deciding whether or not baseball was non-essential to the war effort and thus cancel the rest of the season. Until a decision was made Rube and everyone else was allowed to finish the season. He did not play well that year, which is not surprising given that everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen in both baseball and the war overseas. Secretary Baker eventually decided to a allow baseball to continue, but with a shortened season ending on September 1.
Baseball even got a small reprieve when Labor Day 1918 fell on September 2, giving the National League an extra day. Richard William “Rube” Marquard was in uniform three weeks later. He never did go to France. Instead he stayed in Brooklyn, stationed to the Navy Yard, and played for the base team, the Mine Sweepers. It’s incredible to see it below but the War Department did not waste any time letting Marquard go. He was discharged on Armistice Day 1918.
Rube Marquard was a fun loving guy who enjoyed vaudeville and the racetrack. He ended up marrying a showgirl and had jobs working at various tracks in the decades after his retirement. His WW2 draft registration card shows him working at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Track in 1942. Marquard was virtually forgotten until Lawrence Ritter published his oral history The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It in 1966. Five years after that Rube was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown by the veterans committee. Many believe he was undeserving and that he is one of the weaker HOF inductees. One argument is that he got in due to the nostalgia factor. It is certainly true that after the exhaustion of the Civil Rights Era, all the assassinations, the Vietnam War, and Curt Flood’s ongoing challenge of the reserve clause the 1910s must have seemed a simpler time. Of course we know better. The past was never as easy or uncomplicated as people believe it to have been.
Marquard retired after the 1925 season. He had played eighteen seasons and finished with a record of 201-177.
(images/top: Library of Congress; middle and bottom: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 and New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 via Ancestry.com)
I just returned from Citi Field where we saw Chris Heston of the Giants toss a no-hitter against the Mets. Here are a few pics from the night.
No, this is not Rikers Island. That’s Heston on the left and pitching coach Dave Righetti on the right. As we were watching Heston warm up a few of us began talking about where we were when Righetti threw his no-no against the Red Sox on July 4, 1983. I suppose I am officially old, as I remember that day succinctly.
I was hoping for American Pharoah to throw out the first pitch but instead it was his jockey, Victor Espinoza. People were really excited to see Espinoza and he got a good hand. Note the seat location. We usually sit high up but right on the first base line. Most action takes places right in front of you that way.
We moved down to Field Level for the bottom of the ninth. So did many other folks. The crowd was wide awake and excited.
There is not much to say about the performance. The rookie gave up no hits and zero walks. He did hit three batters, though thankfully no one was hurt. He struck out the side in the ninth and this was the scene with his teammates.
You never know what you will see when you go to the ballpark.
It is not everyday you see an image that captures a precise moment in the history of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Governors Island, and the beginning of American involvement in the First World War all rolled into one These two images however do just that. The two photographs you see here were taken at the Polo Grounds on April 11, 1917, ninety-eight years ago today. The occasion was Opening Day for the Yankees at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan. Congress had declared war on Germany five days earlier.
What is so dramatic about these images is lost on us today. In contrast, the 16,000 in attendance would have grasped the significance of Wood’s very public appearance quite clearly. President Wilson had notified Major General Wood that he was being relieved of command of the Department of the East on Governors Island three weeks previously, on March 24 to be exact. Wood had annoyed the Wilson Administration for much of the past three years with his calls for preparedness; by one estimate he had given as many as one hundred speeches advocating that cause since the war began in 1914. Finally Wilson had enough. To get rid of Wood, the War Department split the Department of the East into three jurisdictions. They gave Wood a choice of where he wanted to go, and he surprised them by choosing Charleston, South Carolina. His final day on Governors Island would be April 30, when he would turn command over to J. Franklin Bell.
Wood’s demotion was unpopular in many circles. Supporters invited him to speak or appear at numerous venues between the demotion (March 24) and his departure from New York City (April 30). In what can only be interpreted as a dig at Wilson, Wood was invited to toss out the first pitch that season. The Yankee players even put on a military drill before the game. Babe Ruth was the starting pitcher for the Red Sox. He won the game 10-3, going the full nine innings and scoring a run.
(images/Library of Congress)