Sailors and soldiers to recreate World War I baseball game
Sailors and soldiers to recreate World War I baseball game USS Remlik's baseball team, who were the 1917-1918 Pennant winners in the Navy Yacht League at Brest, France. (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph/Matthew McCoy/Rhode Island World War I Centennial Commission via AP)
Sailors and soldiers to recreate World War I baseball game
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Sailors and soldiers will don flannel uniforms and play baseball. They will follow century-old rules to recreate the U.S. Army versus Navy games from World War I.

The U.S. Naval War College will recognize the centennial of America's involvement in the war by planning Friday's game in Newport, Rhode Island. Organizers say it's a way to teach people more about the war. It is also a way to mark the anniversary and have a little fun.

War college students will play seven innings in historically accurate uniforms. Spitballs are allowed.

Navy Adm. William S. Sims organized a baseball league in Ireland in 1917. He wanted to overcome tensions between Americans and the locals. He wanted to foster collaboration among allies and give service members something fun to do during off hours.

Major League Baseball players who were serving participated in the games. Herb Pennock and Casey Stengel played for the Navy. Oscar Charleston, Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson played for the Army. All are in the Hall of Fame.

Sims' grandson, Nathaniel, is throwing the first pitch Friday. He recently donated artifacts from his grandfather's naval career to the college.

Old baseball programs in the collection inspired David Kohnen to organize the game, in collaboration with the Naval History and Heritage Command. It's the first of its kind for the college. Kohnen oversees the college's John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research and the Naval War College Museum.

William Sims commanded U.S. naval forces in Europe. His headquarters initially was in Queenstown, Ireland, which is now Cobh.

When American service members began arriving there, many locals were suspicious of them, Kohnen said. Some of the Americans had Irish last names, but they were there supporting the British, whom the Irish had just rebelled against. The British viewed the same sailors as potential infiltrators for the Irish Republican Army, Kohnen said.

Other Americans had German last names.

"What Admiral Sims was trying to say is, 'We're not Irish, we're not German. We're nothing other than simply American, and baseball is the quintessential American game,'" Kohnen said. "He's trying to demonstrate the unique American identity."

The league grew beyond Ireland. Canadian and Japanese forces fielded teams. Italian and French forces fielded teams too, Kohnen said. King George V watched the Navy triumph in the Army versus Navy World Series on July 4, 1918, in London. He even signed a baseball.

Nathaniel Sims, a Boston physician, said he didn't understand the significance of the games when he donated the materials. He said he thought sailors and soldiers should be "out there at war."

"It's David's contribution to recognize this was part of the diplomatic role of a senior military person, to make sure ethnic, political or any other tensions don't sap the effectiveness of the war effort," he said.

William Sims was president of the war college when he went to Europe.

"There's no way we can understand World War I unless we first consider the history of it in all respects," Kohnen said. "Baseball is part of the story of the American experience during the First World War."

The Rhode Island World War I Centennial Commission plans to rededicate the field where the Friday game is being played, Cardines Field. This is in honor of Bernardo Cardines. He was an Italian immigrant from Newport who fought and died in WWI.
The game is free and open to the public. Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

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Why did old-time baseball players were flannel uniforms?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • 24zdgill
    11/13/2017 - 11:07 a.m.

    Why did they use baseball to celebrate?
    Why did the gates open at 4:30 p.m.?
    Why did the say they We're not Irish, we're not German?
    Why was William Sims the president of the war college when he went to Europe?
    Why are other Americans had German last names?

    • JamesB-tur1
      11/22/2017 - 11:39 a.m.

      To recognize them self

  • 24amwalk
    11/13/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

    they wear the because they did it for fun. and they wore blue for the united states. they wore them because they were fashionable. and they like it. they were them in honor of the dead soilders

  • 24kmjohn
    11/13/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

    .Why did they celebrate using baseball instead of making a new holiday?
    .Why did some Americans have German last names?
    .Why did the U.S.A pay for the Army the participate in sports?
    .Why was William Sims the president of war college?
    .Why was the free and open to the public?

  • 24smdrie
    11/13/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

    They are going to wear flannel uniforms and play baseball.They are doing this game because they are showing respect to the people who never made it out of World War 1. They are going to use century year old rules to recreate Army vs. Navy games. They are celebrating U.S Naval War College anniversary with a little fun as well. Like a normal baseball game they will play seven innings and spitballs or unsanitary pitches are allowed like it was in the Army vs. Navy games. This why the old-time baseball players were wearing flannels uniforms.

  • 24kdnels
    11/13/2017 - 01:00 p.m.

    I like baseball its quit a fun game.I did play baseball
    when I was like 5 years old.When it became the end of the season I deiced to stop playing baseball.
    When I was in 5th grade I learned about world war 1 in social studies.The chapter to world war 1 was long and hard to do.
    My grand pa Dug was in world war 1 and he had a girl spit on his fut and she called hi stupid.

  • 24prforr
    11/16/2017 - 10:30 a.m.

    I don't know because I can't find it. I don't understand fully why they are doing this. So somebody tell me why. I don't really like this article because it is about baseball and I don't really care. Another reason I don't like this is because I don't

  • Dylanr-eic
    1/19/2018 - 01:33 p.m.

    I think this cool that they recreate they game because a lot of people really like baseball and world war 2

  • Jojot-eic
    9/14/2018 - 02:54 p.m.

    It was so amassing that sailor played in war war 1.

  • Landons-eic
    10/15/2018 - 11:28 a.m.

    I think it is cool to recreate a baseball game from world war 1.

  • NathanM-sto1
    11/13/2018 - 11:44 a.m.

    I think that it is an amazing thing to recreate the World War one baseball teams because it shows our history in a way with how we still have the memories of the WWI soldiers. I think it would also be a better way for people who want to learn about that history can because they they can watch it.

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