Air Force General Depot #5 Memorial Day (1945) All Star Classic

The cover of the program for the Memorial Day All Star Classic at the AF General Depot Number Five, May 30, 1945.

One of the more interesting military baseball programs that I located comes from a game that, in all likelihood, was played somewhere in the Mediterranean region 22 days following Germany’s unconditional surrender. Especially interesting is the statement by the commanding officer (Colonel William Withey) of the sponsoring unit (Air Force General Depot #5) regarding the significance of the day on which the game was scheduled to be played.

Unlike other scorecards, scorebooks and programs that surface within the militaria collectors’ market, the printed rosters of the opposing teams consist of average “Joes” rather than professional ball players. Judging by the way each roster is assembled, the players were considered stars of their respective command teams (with fantastic names such as, “Thunderbolts, Cloud Spotters, Signaliers, Olive Grovers and Gay Nineties”) and were part of two separate leagues (“American” and “National”). In taking my first few passes through the names, there are are a few men who may have had pre-war professional experience or pursued ball-playing careers upon their return home.

Showing all four pages of the Air Force General Depot #5 Memorial Day Classic All Star Game from the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.

Another inconsistency with other military baseball competition ephemera is that this particular command (Air Force General Depot Number Five) leaving me without any means to determine where this game was played. In tracing the command’s scant historical details, it was a subordinate command to the Air Service Command (ASC) Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) which was, in turn subordinate to the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF) that was, prior to January 1, 1944, the XII Air Force Service Command (part of Twelfth Air Force).

Stadio Arturo Collana is a football stadium, located in the Vomero area of the city. The stadium opened in 1925, originally under the name “Stadio XXVIII Ottobre.”

In narrowing the locations down, it is very possible that this game was played somewhere within the vicinity of Naples (the ASC MTO was based at Naples, Italy, February, 1944 through 30 November 30,  1945 at what is today, the Naples International Airport). As was done at Pearl Harbor with the construction of Furlong Field, the USAAF could have constructed a temporary ball-field and seating for baseball games. However, it seems more plausible that the Stadio Arturo Collana was re-configured (the dimensions of the playing surface are not conducive to baseball diamonds) to accommodate the game. All of this is merely speculation as I have yet to determine exactly where the command was situated in May of 1945.

This artifact lacks the traditional scorecard printing and instead, simply lists the two teams’ rosters. For those who seek to research players from these teams, besides the team names and the players’ positions, the rosters also provide the the first, middle and last name (for most of the men) along with their rank (as of May 30th, 1945) and their hometown providing a great jumping-off point.

The rosters of the USAAF General Depot #5 All Star Classic | Memorial Day 1945 lack the names of known professional ball players as with my other scorecards.

To better accommodate search internet search engine crawling and indexing, the rosters have been transcribed:

American League All Star Team Roster:

Rank ALL Star Position Team Home Town
T/Sgt Wilson, Silas L. SS Cloud Spotters Little Rock, AR
S/Sgt Bottone, Louis J. 1B Signaliers Norwalk, CT
S/Sgt Yoakam, Lawrence V. SS Thunderbolts Mt. Vernon, OH
Sgt Beyers, Robert G. SF Olive Grovers Seattle, WA
Sgt Branzel, Donal H. C Thunderbolts Pittsburgh, PA
Sgt Fichtner, Richard P. SF Cloud Spotters Jeannette, PA
Sgt Harper, Claude L. 1B Thunderbolts LaHabra, CA
Cpl Delekta, Stanley W. 1B Tech School Detroit, MI
Cpl De Frank, Rudy 3B Tech School Highland Park, MI
Cpl Granger, Guillermo SS Gay Nineties Laredo, TX
Cpl Kuhlig, Joseph J. SS Tech School Noble, IL
Cpl Morrissette, Francis J. P Diamond Club St. Paul, MN
Cpl O’Hare, William J. 3B Gay Nineties Muse, PA
Cpl Sokolowski, Alex, J. 3B Olive Grovers Toledo, OH
Cpl Zelenka, Gearge LF Gay Nineties Owosso, MI
T/5 Goodall, John D. SS Signaliers Niagra Falls, NY
T/5 Thibault, Erwin Jr. CF Signaliers Pitmant, NJ
Pfc Kittner, Harold P. 2B Cloud Spotters Chicago, IL
Pfc Reynolds, Avery L. P Olive Grovers Marmaduke, AR
Pvt Ludwit, John W. C Diamond Club Higgins, PA
Pvt Wayler, Edward LF Diamond Club Hartford, CT
Sgt Debney, Jack W. Mgr Thunderbolts Pittsburgh, PA
Pfc DiMinico, Joseph Asst. Mgr Signaliers Revere, MA

American League All Star Team Roster:

Rank ALL Star Position Team Home Town
1st/Sgt. Luebke, Ray 1B Tigers Milwaukee, WI
T/Sgt Case, Billy M. 3B Texans Ada, OK
T/Sgt Cusick, George L. LF Mud Hens Topeka, KS
S/Sgt Anderson, Clarence W. P A. Flyers Jamestown, NY
S/Sgt Tinlin, Bill F. 1B Trucksters Garretsville, OH
Sgt Baitenfeld, Henry SS Texans Glendale, NY
Sgt Dybas, Joseph 1B Texans Syracuse, NY
Sgt Ginsburg, Martin LF A. Flyers New York, NY
Sgt Hughes, Harold G. CF Rookies Cincinnati, OH
Sgt Janas, Frank J. SF Red Birds Chicago, IL
Sgt Jasulevicz, Joseph L. SS Tigers Wilkes-Barre, PA
Sgt Keenan, Leo M. 3B Mud Hens Minneapolis, MN
Sgt Melkerson, Richard A. C Red Birds Vanport, PA
Sgt Pruzinsky, George E. 3B Mosquitos Bridgeport, CT
Sgt Shepard, Bernard G. C A. Flyers St. Albans, VA
Sgt Simonaitis, John SS Mosquitos Hunter, NY
Sgt Wheeler, Ralph E. P Tigers Binghampton, NY
Cpl Errigo, Faust A. CF Trucksters Phoenix, AZ
Cpl Thompson, Melvin A. IF Rookies York, NE
Cpl Tice, Carmen G. 1B Rookies Neshboro, WI
Cpl Turner, James A. Jr. 1B Playboys St. Louis, MO
Cpl Weaver, Austin C. P Red Birds New Albany, IN
Pfc Ambrosino, Alfred C Mosquitos Brooklyn, NY
Pfc Lott, William E. C Trucksters Whistler, AL
T/5 Larimer, John E. 3B Athletics Detroit, MI
T/5 Klimek, Henry J. P Athletics Chicago, IL
Pfc Ambrosino, Alfred C Mud Hens Kyle, TX
Pfc Thompson, Milton SF Playboys Los Angeles, CA
Pfc Waddle, Irwin D. OF Athletics Sterling, CO
Pfc Womack, George W. Jr. SS Playboys Ringgold, VA
S/Sgt Banks, Thomas A. Mgr A. Flyers Albuquerque, NM
Sgt Sanchioni, August V. Asst. Mgr Mosquitos Buffalo, NY

Additional (researchable) information is presented on the back page of the program with a message from the commanding officer of General Depot Number five.

“Today marks the second of our Annual Memorial Day Classics here at Air Force General Depot Number Five, may it be the last.

However, we could have spent the time in places much more uncomfortable. We have had a good place in which to live, at least a healthy one, and we can all feel that we have done our bit towards the successful completion of the war.

Last year we tried to make the day a little bit of America and at that time it was not “TWO DOWN AND ONE TO GO”. This year we can do the same, but with the definite knowledge that we shall soon see the United States again.

For myself I feel that today has a more joyful feeling than last year because of what has conspired in the interval, and I know that all of you share that with me.

Let us not, however, on this Memorial Day, forget those who have made the supreme sacrifice and for whom this day is so designated.

-William W. Withey,
Colonel, Air Corps,
Commanding.”

 

A Memorial Day message from the commanding colonel regarding the significance of the holiday as the war was winding to a conclusion.

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