Monthly Archives: October 2018

Scoring the 1945 Navy All Star Championship Series

Collecting an entire set or series of anything is a common behavior of those who obsesses over filling in the gaps or holes in collections. Manufacturers of keepsakes devise plans and construct schemes that are fashioned to touch specific nerves of those who are entirely obsessive-compulsive or just possess enough of the “disorder” to trigger exhaustive searches.  Sports card companies created sets that contained upwards of 400 cards (along with checklists) that triggered kids to buy more wax packs in order to compete their sets. In the 1950s and 60s, kids would scour neighborhoods for empty soda bottles seeking to cash in on the deposit refunds in order to buy more packs of cards. Despite efforts such as these, it still proved difficult to compete a set, leading kids to engage in other activities (such as trading with other collectors).

Though I did collect baseball cards, I don’t recall ever having completed the assembling a set but the OCD behavior remains within me.  With my current baseball militaria interest combined with the decade spent researching and documenting artifacts (either collected or relegated to missed opportunities), my knowledge in what exists has grown and I have been documenting various artifacts and effectively creating my own checklists of sorts. As I scan through my (physical) archive of military baseball scorecards and scorebooks, I am amazed not solely by what I have but also by the gaps where there should be additional pieces. Unlike card collecting where there were thousands upon thousands of copies of each card issued, scorecards and programs were printed in very limited numbers and, due to their intended use, were discarded following each game in large percentages.

With WWII’s official end following the signing of the Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay, leadership across the services worked in earnest to transition the ranks from the role of a fighting a fighting force to one of occupation, peace-keeping and reconstruction. Most of those in uniform were awaiting word of when they would be released and returned to their pre-war lives which included the thousands of former professional ballplayers who were spread across the two principal war theaters.  Three weeks after VJ-Day (September 2, 1945), Navy leadership took advantage of the opportunity to entertain those personnel who were on duty or R&R in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. With so many of the game’s best and brightest stars still serving in the South Pacific and fresh from competition in the service team leagues, Vice Admiral Sherwood Ayerst Taffinder, Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District along with the commanders of Third (Halsey), Fifth (Spruance) and Seventh (Kinkaid) Fleets conceived an idea to assemble the greats of the game who were still serving in the Pacific on active duty in the Navy.

Beginning on September 26, 1945, the series between the American League and National League All Star players serving within the Navy’s active duty ranks descended upon Furlong Field at the U.S. Army Air Forces base at Hickam Field for a seven-game series. The championship was more of a hybridization of Major League Baseball’s World Series and All-Star Game as the rosters were replete with stars from all levels of baseball including both the major and minor leagues (see: A Pesky Group of Type-1 WWII Navy Baseball Photos).

What is fascinating about the series is the seemingly abundance of a variety of artifacts originating from the games. In recent years, such treasures from the games have ranged from signed baseballs, photographs and ephemera such as ticket stubs, programs and scorecards.

This American vs National League All Stars scorecard was created for the seven-game series in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, played at Furlong Field. It is a single sheet, bi-fold piece, printed on a very rudimentary, inexpensive paper stock. The original owner scored the on field proceedings from game 5 of the series.

Scorekeeping was devised by Henry Chadwick in 1870 to provide a means for statistical analysis of the performance of ball-players.  While the term, “score-keeping” seems to infer management of the overall progress of the number of runs scored by each participating team, the practice is custom method of shorthand that employs a pre-printed grid on which to plot the progression of the game along with the performance of each individual player.  From the early years up to present day, pre-printed scorecards have remained relatively unchanged.

This program with scorebook example from the same series has a more professional appearance and design and is even more scarce than the rare hand-illustrated scorecard from the same 1945 All Star series (image source: Hunt Auctions).

A present-day scorecard may be purchased at the game for a few dollars, depending upon whether one is visiting a major or minor league ballpark or, as is with my own local minor league team, are given away with paid admission to the game. While most scorecards are disposed of soon after the game, some folks collect them.  A scored (used) card is an historic record of a game, preserving a moment in time for others (who can read scorekeeper’s shorthand) to look back upon. Scorebooks, scorecards and programs are highly collectible, especially when they are attributed to a notable game or series.

With the 1945 Navy All Star Championship series in Hawaii, two different scorecards or scorebooks have surfaced in the last few years that are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of quality and professional appearance.  One, a blue halftone booklet that features two photos of battleships in action with the title, “Here Comes the Navy” in script across the top.  The booklet was produced specifically for the All Star Baseball Series at Pearl Harbor.  The other piece is more specifically a scorecard that is entirely hand-illustrated (by an unknown, as of yet, “LT Topper, U.S.N.R.”) including the front and rear covers and the inside scoring grid and rosters. The cartoon-like drawings on the front and back covers feature whimsical caricatures of sailor-ballplayers and an umpire, reminiscent of 1930s comic strip characters.

The cover art on this scorecard is hand-illustrated showcasing the popular caricaturization present in the era and commonly seen on newspaper sportspages.

The LT Topper-illustrated scorecard shares its paper medium with several other Pearl-Harbor originated scorecards which is very rough and yellowed with age, indicative of its low-cost to-produce. In the last ten days, three examples of this version have been listed and sold at (online) auction with two of them being scored from the same game. Due to the scarcity of any scorecards from the 1945 Navy All Star series, they tend to garner significant activity from collectors which drives the bidding fairly high ($80-$120), in contrast to major league scorecards from the era (which tend to hover around $30-$60).

Since there were seven games in total, some collectors might be driven to seek out scorecards that were scored for each game from the 1945 Series which could push the total investment (if one is successful in landing the associated card for each) towards $1,000.

The star-power of the rosters of these games far surpassed what was fielded at the major league baseball All Star Game in 1944. The game that was scored on this card was the fifth of the seven game series.

The scorecard provides clarity as to the players who were brought in for the series. In the previous Chevrons and Diamonds article, the rosters (that I published) were an assemblage of names, culled together from news clippings and other accounts.

American League Roster:

1Johnny PeskyBoston Red Sox 
2Ned HarrisDetroit Tigers 
3Tom CareyBoston Red Sox 
4Jack ConwayCleveland Indians 
5George StallerPhiladelphia Athletics
6Lumon HarrisPhiladelphia Athletics
7Rollie  HemsleyNew York Yankees 
8Bob KennedyChicago White Sox 
9Al LyonsNew York Yankees 
10Bob LemonCleveland Indians 
11Chet HadjukChicago White Sox 
12Eddie McGahBoston Red Sox 
13Harry HughesAtlanta 
14Sherry RobertsonWashington Senators
15Bill MarksRochester 
16Barney LutzSt. Louis Browns 
17Eddie WeilandChicago White Sox 
18Hank FeimsterBoston Red Sox 
19Fred HutchinsonDetroit Tigers 
20“Schoolboy” RoweDetroit TigersManager
21Ken SearsNew York Yankees 
22Jack PhillipsNew York Yankees 
23Ted WilliamsBoston Red Sox 
24Dick WakefieldDetroit Tigers 
25Jack HallettPittsburgh Pirates (Chi. White Sox) 
26Mickey McGowanTexas League (Atlanta Crackers) 
27Warren Delbert Bat Boy

National League:

1Jerry Lonigro Bat Boy
2Ray HamrickPhiladelphia Phillies 
3Larry Varnell Coach
4Ray (Bobby) CoombsJersey City (NY Giants) 
5Whitey PlattChicago Cubs 
6Wes LivengoodMilwaukee Brewers (Cin. Reds) 
7Hank SchenzPortsmith Cubs (Chicago Cubs) 
8Charley GilbertChicago Cubs 
9Wimpy QuinnLos Angeles (Chicago Cubs) 
10Eddie ShokesSyracuse Chiefs 
11Clyde ShounCincinnati Reds 
12Russ MeersChicago Cubs 
14Stan MusialSt. Louis Cardinals 
15Bob UsherBirmingham Barons 
16Billy HermanBrooklyn DodgersManager
17Steve TrambackJersey City (NY Giants) 
18Cookie LavegettoBrooklyn Dodgers 
19Gil BrackBrooklyn Dodgers 
20Bob SheffingChicago Cubs 
21Dick WestCincinnati Reds 
22Lou TostBoston Braves 
23Johnnie McCarthy Coach
24Ray LamannoCincinnati Reds 
25Hugh CaseyBrooklyn Dodgers 
26Jim CarlinPhiladelphia Phillies 
27Billy BarnacleMinneapolis Millers 
28Dee MoorePhiladelphia Phillies 
29Aubrey EppsPittsburgh Pirates 

The task to gather them all is a daunting one and I doubt that there will be any measure of success in focusing on this goal.

With nearly 150,000 troop in attendance, the series was a success as service members began to rotate home.

 DateLocationAttendanceOutcome
Game 1 September 26, 1945Furlong Field  26,000NL over AL 6-5
Game 2September 28, 1945Furlong Field  28,000NL over AL 4-0
Game 3September 29, 1945Furlong Field  28,000NL over AL 6-2
Game 4October 3, 1945Furlong Field  18,000AL over NL 12-1
Game 5October 5, 1945Furlong Field  22,000NL over AL 4-3
Game 6October 6, 1945Furlong Field  25,000AL over NL 5-2
Games, dates outcomes and attendance.

 GCGIPWLPCTRERHSOBBSHO
Al Lyons202000.000111000
Fred Hutchinson107.2000.000449430
Bob Lemon101.1010.000222000
Luman Harris2117110.500429340
Hank Feimster100.1010.000444010
Eddie Weiland101.1010.0006513860
Jack Hallett119101.000117630
American League pitching stats for the Navy World Series.

 GCGIPWLPCTRERHSOBBSHO
Lou Tost3219200.66776171140
Max Wilson2116110.5004411561
Clyde Shoun205.1010.000668360
Hugh Casey101101.000000110
Ray (Bobby) Coombs203000.000001210
Wes  Livengood104000.000779040
Ray Yochim104000.000203130
National League pitching stats for the Navy World Series.

 POSABRHTB2B3BHRRBISHSBSOBBAvgPOAE
Jack Conway2B23445100001430.17419211
Johnny PeskySS234913101300130.39113183
Chet Hajduk1B12145100000100.3333220
Ken Sears1B12347001300010.3332120
Ted WilliamsRF11336001200050.273600
Bob Kennedy3B19348101500220.21110113
Dick WakefieldLF14345100200330.286701
Jack PhillipsCF/1B8011000000200.125601
Rollie HemsleyC13066000210010.4622320
Eddie McGahC6100000000200.000310
Joe GlennC2011000000000.500100
Bill MarksLF/RF13122000000210.1541611
Al LyonsP/CF9136001100100.333110
Barney LutzCF6125001300010.333200
Ned  HarrisCF1100000000000.000000
Sherry Robertson3B1000000000010.000011
Schoolboy RoweLF3125001200000.667000
Packy Rogers 2000000000010.000000
Fred HutchinsonP3000000000100.000010
Bob LemonP0000000000000.000000
Luman HarrisP3000000010010.000030
Hank FeimsterP0000000000000.000000
Eddie WeilandP4000000010000.000150
Jack HallettP4011000000010.250000
American League batting stats. Johnny Pesky was crowned MVP despite the AL’s loss.

 POSABRHTB2B3BHRRBISHSBSOBBAvgPOAE
Charley GilbertCF27347001300220.1481501
Jim Carlin3B244711101100340.2923141
Billy Herman2B2012200010 130.10015153
Stan MusialRF20347001200040.200510
Mizell PlattLF24367100200600.2502110
Wimpy Quinn1B23188000101100.3484321
Ray LamannoC143610101200110.4291240
Bob ScheffingC8133000100110.3751300
Hank SchenzSS/2B3012100210000.333250
Ray HamrickSS18233000110410.16717130
Lou TostP5000000120110.000230
Max WilsonP5000000010000.000120
Clyde ShounP1000000000010.000020
Hugh CaseyP1112100100001.000010
Ray (Bobby) CoombsP0000000000000.000000
Dick West 2000000000000.000000
Gil Brack 1000000000000.000000
Dee Moore 1000000000100.000000
Wes  LivengoodP2000000000100.000010
Ray YochimP1000000000000.000000
Bub UsherRF1000000000000.000000
Batting stats for the National League.

A Growing Backlog of Baseball History to Share

Following a considerable run of authoring and publishing weekly articles with a measure of consistency for most of 2018, I have encountered a new, and quite beneficial hurdle in order to continue with my passion with Chevrons and Diamonds. Over the course of the last 17 months, I have endured a significant amount of change to my professional and personal life which, for much of the time, has contributed to my ability to sustain a normal publishing cycle. With the latest round of changes in the last two weeks, the most precious resource – time – needed to author and publish, has been severely and negatively impacted.

Most authors, especially those who find themselves tasked with creating content for a periodical venture, struggle with story ideas and the lack of topics to cover. Oddly, I have a plethora of story ideas and material that I desperately want to cover and because of the audience growth of Chevrons and Diamonds over the last two years, each story that does get published, seemingly opens a door to either greater detail for a particular topic or leads to a tangential discovery. To that point, my article, My First Military Baseball: the “Rammers” of the 36th Field Artillery Group, published in early 2018 led to me being contacted by the grandson of one of the players who signed the ball and the flurry of ensuing conversation and exploration of the player resulted in a follow-up story, Countless Hours of Research and Writing; Why Do I Do This? This is Why. The story of the 36th Field Artillery baseball and Chuck Emerick is just one example of the rewards of publicly sharing these artifacts.

One of my most favorite additions to my collection surrounded the acquisition of former minor leaguer, Earl Ghelf’s grouping of photos, letters, programs and other artifacts from his time with the 29th Infantry Division. The subsequent article that I published (European Theater Baseball (the 29th Infantry Division Blue and Grays at Nurnberg)) was just an overview of the contents, predominantly focusing on the team history, Nuremburg Stadium and a cursory focus on Ghelf. In the months since I published, I have been contacted a few times: the first was another collector seeking to purchase the Ghelf group as he managed to land one of his other auction groupings; the second contact was far more substantive and provided me with a wealth of information regarding the unit and team, a few of the players and additional details regarding the 29th Infantry Division’s leadership and, perhaps the reason why the team was assembled with the talent that they had.

German sporting fields were devoid of proper dugouts which forced teams to set up benches along the baselines. Here, the 29th Infantry Division team awaits the call to take the field (major leaguer, Don Kolloway is seated at center).

What better source is there for research assistance and authoritative insight than from folks in leadership with the Maryland Museum of Military History who are passionate about documenting the storied past of one of their state’s units? For the folks at the Maryland Museum, my collection of Ghelf’s photos were the first images that they had seen that showed any depictions of the 29th‘s post-VE Day baseball competition. The museum’s collection is quite extensive, including the wartime morning reports, division newsletters, etc. And yet contains no photographs of the baseball team. Upon discovery of this site, one of the board members reached out to me and we began to discuss the baseball team’s history and how best to transfer high resolution scans of the photographs to provide the museum with the imagery.

In a recent conversation with a collector colleague whose interests have led him to venture into baseball militaria (vintage photographs, programs, scorecards and baseballs), we talked about the importance of preserving these artifacts. I mentioned that I not only collect and properly store ephemera and photographs, but I also scan, catalog and share the pieces in my collection. The purpose of sharing the artifacts along with the results of my research are to not only enlighten other collectors but more so to bring to light items that have not seen the light of day in more than a half-century or, in many cases, have never been seen by the interested public. Since I made much of the Ghelf grouping available for the public, folks are gaining visual insights into the games that were otherwise only captured in a few published articles, as told by those who were present.

Prior to being added to the 29th ID team roster, Ghelf played for the 69th ID team. This photo shows the men seated on the “dugout” bench during their half of an inning.

In nearly a decade of pursuing military baseball artifacts (dominated by vintage photographs), the majority of pieces that have surfaced throughout that time have either been at domestic or Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) locations. Following VE-Day (May 8, 1945), the mission of the American and Allied forces in Europe changed from combat operations to occupation and reconstruction. War was still raging in the Pacific and would continue for four more months and many of the troops in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) would begin to either be sent home or, possibly sent to the Pacific as leaders were preparing for a full-scale invasion force for the Japanese home islands. My theory as to why we do not see photos of ETO baseball leagues and subsequent World Series is that the photographers had already been reassigned or discharge. Combat correspondents, prior to the German surrender, had been embedded within frontline units to document and provide coverage of the action, would have been sent to the PTO to cover the war against Japan.

This press photo shows a game in progress, played by (what appears to be) U.S. Army paratroopers. The original caption read, “Infantrymen enjoy a game of baseball in a field “somewhere in France” during a rest period between action in the front lines, 19 August 1944 (Signal Corps Photo, author’s collection).

 

The importance of the Earl Ghelf group was further underscored following a series of conversations with a professor and passionate baseball historian reached out seeking photographs of ETO World Series games ahead of his presentation regarding Sam Nahem (and his insistence in adding black baseball players to his OISE All Stars roster, leading to the team’s eventual championship in the ETO) at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Symposium this past May. Sadly, Mr. Ghelf’s personal photographs did not contain any images of the OISE team as he only focused on the unit teams that he was playing for.

It is painfully obvious that I have so many more stories to share in future published articles and so little time with which to give them the proper attention (research, writing, etc.). I am not without motivation to press on with this work – the rewards are substantial for me as more people discover Chevrons and Diamonds.

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