USASTAF Major League Baseball All Stars
By 1945, there was little doubt as to the outcome of the War however what was not known is when it would conclude and just how many more losses American families would have to suffer. During the previous year, units in the Pacific Theater, while on R&R on a few of the islands that were well protected from the reaches of the enemy, games were being played by the average Joes (which often included professional ball players).
When the game between the Wingmen and Flyers on the Island of Guam was played, 25 days had elapsed since Major Charles Sweeny piloted the B-29 “Bockscar” over Nagasaki delivering the atomic bomb, Fat Man over the target-city. With only four days elapsed since the Japanese envoys Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu signed the Instrument of Surrender, ending World War II. Thirteen months prior, the Battle of Guam ended (on August 10, 1944) allowing Navy CBs to transform the (formerly-Japanese-held) island into a staging area for the pressing the attack, driving the enemy towards his homelands.
Even as the USASTAF Major League All Stars game was being played on Guam, one lone enemy combatant (Private Bunzō Minagawa held out from 1944 until May 1960 ) evaded capture on the island and would continue to do so for another 15 years.
The design of the program from the game is a departure from what could be considered “normal” among wartime military baseball publications. This four-page booklet is printed on one side of a single-sheet of paper and then hand-folded into quarters. The paper is a rather heavy, yet rudimentary stock which has most-likely contributed to (my copy’s) survival of handling and storage. This example is well-worn and shows signs of ink or paint spills. The cover is adorned with a hand-written (in pencil) note:
“Names of players inside | Games played on Guam during August + Sept. 1945”
The two interior pages provide rosters of each team which include the team members’ name, rank, position and previous professional ball-playing experience.
|Hughson||“Tex”||Pfc||P||Boston Red Sox|
|Lien||Al||Cpl||P||Pacific Coast League|
|Schmidt||“Big Bill”||Sgt||p||Pacific Coast League|
|Chandler||Ed||Cpl||P||Pacific Coast League|
|Fain||Ferris||S/Sgt||IF||Pacific Coast League|
|Sturm||Johnny||Sgt||IF||New York Yankees|
|Lodgiani||Dario||Sgt||IF||Chicago White Sox|
|Lilly||Art||Cpl||IF||Pacific Coast League|
|Wright||Taft||Sgt||OF||Chicago White Sox|
|Mills||Buster||1st Lt||OF/Mgr||Cleveland Indians|
|Leonard||Will||Cpl||C||Pacific Coast League|
|Pollet||Howie||Pfc||P||St. Louis Cadinals|
|Olsen||Al||Cpl||P||Pacific Coast League|
|Popovich||Nick||Pfc||P||Pacific Coast League|
|Ardizoia||“Rugger”||Cpl||P||New York Yankees|
|Goletz||Stan||1st Lt||P||Chicago White Sox|
|Stevens||“Chuck”||Cpl||IF||St. Louis Browns|
|Reich||Herman||Cpl||IF||Pacific Coast League|
|Gordon||“Flash” Joe||Cpl||IF||New York Yankees|
|Judnich||Walt||Sgt||IF||St. Louis Browns|
|Jensen||Johnny||Cpl||OF||Pacific Coast League|
|Slaughter||“Country”||Sgt||OF||St. Louis Cadinals|
|Lang||Don||Cpl||OF||Boston Red Sox|
The back page includes and action photo of Joe Gordon with a caption that reads, “Tinian – Joe “Flash” Gordon, popular Yankee second baseman crosses home plate after a long right field home run. Umpire Vince Smith, Pirate Catcher, watches while Don Lang, Boston Red Sox, prepares to bat.”