Monday, May 27, 2019

Baseball players that died while serving here and elsewhere. THE DETAILS

I found this site so interesting. Since the inception of what is considered modern baseball by the father of Baseball Mr. Cartwright (he messed with some rules of "other games" in 1846. Several ball players have died while serving in the/a military. Many from action or wounds and illnesses from serving, and others from accident or miscellaneous reasons. 

I have placed a link for each separate conflict, many of which seldom get mentioned these days. It is easier to VIEW most information by going to the link provided. These links show level of professional baseball, position, branch of service, location, date, and COD.  I give credit to those copy rights, etc.. These are just citations to those writings, and in no way do I intend to plagiarize.


There are known/assumed deaths not listed here from the American-Indian Wars as well as the Spanish-American War.

"In 1861, baseball players filled the ranks of the military for the first time as America found itself gripped by civil war. Since that first game in Hoboken, baseball had spread throughout New England and the Midwest. Cartwright himself had taken the game to California and Hawaii, and the sport was growing in popularity in Virginia, the Carolinas and the ports of New Orleans and Galveston, Texas.

The civil war meant that baseball’s fledgling organisations suffered (the number of nationally recognised clubs fell from 62 to 28) while military baseball boomed. Troops of both the North and South armies played organised games and pick-up games around their camps and there is evidence that baseball was also played in prisoner-of-war camps.

The war lasted until May 1865, and in four long years, over 600,000 American lives were lost. It’s safe to say that this was the first time baseball players made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Unfortunately, no records have been uncovered to name these inaugural heroes."

American Indian Wars

"During and after the Civil War, there were a number of conflicts with Native Americans in the western United States. As baseball gained in popularity during this time, it is fair to say that a number of ballplayers would have lost their lives during this time. An 1880s photograph of the Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, baseball team includes mention of two of the players (who were serving with the famous 7th Cavalry) were among the 25 troops killed at the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890, the last battle of the American Indian Wars. Unfortunately, their names have not become known."
Jefferson Barracks baseball team
Jefferson Barracks baseball team

Spanish-American War

"In Florida, in December 1897, the baseball team of the battleship USS Maine defeated a team from the cruiser USS Marblehead, 18-3, to earn the title Navy baseball champions. Led by engine stoker and pitcher William Lambert of Hampton, Virginia, the only black player on the team who was described as “a master of speed, curves, and control,” the team’s next game was scheduled with an all-star squad in Havana, Cuba.

On February 15, 1898, Marine Corps Fifer C.H. Newton, the ship’s bugler and the ball team’s third baseman, blew taps as the Maine bobbed listlessly in Havana Harbor. Shortly afterwards, the Maine blew up, killing 261 of the crew and all but the baseball team’s right fielder, John Bloomer. In addition to Newton, the bugler, the ballplayers killed that evening were Ordinary Seaman William H. Gorman (second base) of Boston, Landsman Charles Hauck (centerfield) of Brooklyn, Landsman William L. Hough (first base) of New York, pitcher William Lambert, Apprentice First Class Benjamin L. Marsden (catcher) of Jersey City, New Jersey, Landsman John Merz (shortstop) of Brooklyn, and Landsman William H. Tinsman (leftfield) of East Deering, Maine. Also killed were the team’s manager Gunner’s Mate First Class Charles F. W. Eiermann of New York, and Seaman Leo Bonner of New York, the manager’s assistant. In addition, to lose his life aboard the Maine that night although not a member of the ship’s team was Yeoman Third Class John H. Shillington of Chicago, who played shortstop with Notre Dame.

Two months after the loss of the USS Maine, on April 25, 1898, saw the start of the Spanish-American War, during which the rallying cry, “Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!” was frequently heard. Minor league catcher Leonard Weikart died from illness in Cuba on August 1, 1898. He was possibly the first former professional player to lose his life in military service. On December 30, 1898, Bill Stearns, a Civil War veteran who pitched for the National Association’s Washington Nationals between 1872 and 1875, died from illness that had occurred while serving with Company H, First District of Columbia Volunteers in Puerto Rico in August/September of that year."
USS Maine baseball team
USS Maine baseball team

Now moving on to the WWI and WWII. The list in the links includes baseball players from other countries as well. Australia, Canada, and Japan.  Then the rest of the Wars that we as a country have fought in seems like my entire lifetime.

BTW, we are still officially at war with Korea as the peace treaty or declaration to end the war has never been signed. Maybe rocket-man and the President can actually get that done. That doesn't require trusting the other guy at all, just sign the damn papers. 

This list seems so short. I feel there should be a lot more names. Maybe more research is needed.

Died while serving 1872 to .....   2005. I'm quite sure a more current list exists somewhere.
Most of these were killed in plane crashes, and a few listed as accidents outside of "actual" war-time. Still the same remembrance on this day was earned. 

Again, Honoring those today who made the ultimate sacrifice as President Abraham Lincoln declared back in 1865 (after witnessing the aftermath from the battle that had just occurred), and later after his death became known as the Gettysburg Address. 

Also absolute credit to the sources providing this information. I'm just spreading the word.


  1. I just discovered the Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice website today thanks to Wrigley Wax's post. Bookmarked it and plan on doing some more exploring.

  2. Thanks for this. Especially the info about the baseball team on the Maine.

    Just to pick a nit, we are not officially at war with North Korea; in fact, we never were. North Korea and South Korea are officially at war with each other.

  3. I disagree as would any surviving Korean War veterans (or Iraq vets for that matter- never declared war there either). The US considers those soldiers actions during that war "wartime". Yes, the Korean War started as a conflict between North and South Korea. However, President Truman rather than ask congress to approve a declaration of war, 1 upped that move by going straight to the United Nations, which Sanctioned entering the War on behalf of South Korea and with the US controlling the the offense ("a police action").
    So yes officially the US was "at/in a War." If we (our armed forces) are fighting and dying we are at war even if it is not "our" war, we're still at war. You can rationalize it anyway you want, but if we're fighting we're in a war. PERIOD. And thems fighting words!

    Even if Both Korea's sign a peace treaty, it is still not completely over (only between them). Because of the UN involvement all of the combatants must also sign a peace treaty with their "enemy" to be be officially officially over. Like the issue with Japan and Russia not doing so after WWII.