The Ball Game ...


   The baseball match on the Chelsea Football Ground yesterday was an awakener for London. It was a revelation of America at play; and the afternoon was as strenuous as a pillow-fight in a boys’ dormitory. It took us completely away to those distant times when we could rejoice under a blue sky, without looking for Zeppelins and Gothas. The afternoon was crammed full of extraordinary moments. It passed in such a pandemonium as was perhaps never heard before on an English playing-field; not even on a football ground. The United States seemed to be shouting in chorus, and Great Britain joined in, a little breathless, but determined to make a good show of lung power. Never, moreover, was a football ground so arrayed. The rather dingy surroundings were shut out by a square mile or two of flags, “Old Glory” and the Union Jack predominating, but the rest of the Allies not being forgotten. The grand stand was gloriously draped, and the King and Queen went to their seats by a flowery way. ...

The Times, London, July 5, 1918

The changing plan …

Jim Leeke — AABP

Soldiers and historians will tell you that a battle plan is valid until the first shot is fired. Something similar may apply to commemorations. Our plan to mark the centennial of the great Fourth of July “baseball match” at Stamford Bridge in 1918, during World War I, has changed and morphed and changed again. Now it’s clear that commemorations will extend beyond July 4, 2018, which is fine with us.

Our colleagues at the U.S. Naval War College now plan to hold a simple pregame ceremony before the Newport Gulls game on the Fourth at historic Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island. And our friends at Tennessee State Parks are preparing a WWI baseball game in Nashville the following Saturday, July 7. The Naval War College then plans to play another WWI game in Newport in September, as they did last year. We’ll post details here as we receive them.

Yes, this all differs from what AABP envisioned when we began three years ago. And we’re pleased with it all, too. We’re grateful for the unexpected American friends we’ve made since 2015. And we hope to commemorate the WWI Anglo-American alliance with the many baseball friends we’ve made in the United Kingdom. We look forward to Independence Day 2018 … and to the many Fourths to follow.

Farewell, old friend …

Jim Leeke — AABP

We’re greatly saddened today by the passing of Shelly Berman, a legendary ad man in New York and Columbus. He was a grand friend and advisor. Shel was the first person we ever told about our notion for recreating the great Army-Navy “baseball match” seen by King George V during WWI. We founded the Anglo-American Baseball Project in 2015 with his encouragement.

Plans are now nearly complete for playing the game in Newport, Rhode Island, this Fourth of July. We’re working with the U.S. Naval War College to make it happen. Shel would have loved tinkering with the many details of an ambitious plan like this one. We thank him for his valuable advice along the way.

In the old days, umpires used to call games “on account of darkness.” We feel that way today. But we’ll be thinking happily of Shelly Berman at the ballpark in Newport this summer.

Thank you, SABR …

Jim Leeke — AABP (updated April 17)

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) recently tabbed From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball during the Great War for a 2018 SABR Baseball Research Award. The honor was all the more exciting for being completely unexpected. (From the Dugouts also has now received SABR’s 2018 Larry Ritter Book Award).

The baseball community seems to be acknowledging that the sport’s history during WWI has been neglected far too long. I recently presented a paper at the NINE Spring Training Conference in Tempe, Arizona, about the fates of former New York Giants teammates Edward Grant and Harry McCormick in the Great War. You may know that Captain “Harvard Eddie” Grant was killed in action in the Argonne Forest, five weeks before the armistice. You may not know that Lieutenant “Moose” McCormick returned from France suffering from shell shock.

I wasn’t the only speaker to mention Eddie Grant at NINE. Another speaker included him in the conference’s very first presentation. Umpire Perry Barber later coined the phrase “Eddie Grant Lives,” which resonates a century after his death. SABR helps to preserve his memory, and those of other ballplayers who served in the armed forces, by honoring a book about baseball during WWI. Thank you, SABR!

Thank you, Google ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

You might have noticed our new Gallery page. It links to a digital collection that we created with help from Google Arts & Culture. Follow the link and you’ll find dozens of images and videos from the Fourth of July “baseball match” in London during World War I.

That historic US Army – US Navy game in 1918, of course, inspired us to found this group, the Anglo-American Baseball Project. King George V went to the game at Stamford Bridge to show his support for his American allies, and took much of the royal family with him. They might not all have understood what they were watching, but they had a marvelous time nonetheless.

“I don’t know what he did, but I’m for him!” the king’s mother, Queen Alexandra, exclaimed when a navy player slid across the plate to score. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, we think you’ll enjoy learning about the big game, too. So, thank you, Google … and batter up!

Change of venue …

Jim Leeke — AABP

In partnership with the U.S. Naval War College, we’re pleased to announce the new site of our World War I centennial baseball game. We’ll play on July 4, 2018, at Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island, home of the Newport Gulls. Learn more about this historic ballpark here.

We’ll celebrate the US-UK alliance that baseball helped to secure in London in 1918. And we’ll honor the soldiers, sailors and marines who fought in the war (and played a little ball along the way) exactly 100 years ago.

Cardines Field is accessible for many American fans, especially those in the Northeast. And we hope that some of our British baseball friends also will visit us and take in the game. It wouldn’t be the same without them.

We’ll let you know on this website once we've determined the time of the first pitch and other last details. Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to an amazing Fourth in Newport!

Lights, camera, action ...

Today's guest blogger is Emily Tait, UK filmmaker ...

Ten years ago, my Dad was signed off work sick. During a restless night, unable to sleep, he discovered a love for a sport he had never before appreciated. I wish I could tell you about the thrilling game he experienced that night. Unfortunately, the only recollection he has of this game is that he had found himself rooting for the Mets. It has stuck ever since.

So that was it, my Dad was a New York Mets fan. Losing hope and faith in British football, he swapped his Arsenal shirts for Mets jerseys—and, incidentally, so did we.

Over the next few years, his dedication to baseball grew and he took a real interest in following the American pastime. His Twitter feed was flooded with baseball updates, his family announcements updating us on the previous night’s game became a daily ritual, parcels containing all sorts of baseball-related merchandise and clothing turned up at the door, and even dinner-table chat steered toward the week’s trades or the latest home run.

One day, he told us about a book he had heard about on Twitter. Written by a former sports journalist and baseball historian (none other than Jim Leeke), it told the story of how, during the heart of World War I, a ball game between the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army played out on Independence Day for King George V himself at Stamford Bridge.

Skip forward to the 4th of July, 2017, the 99th anniversary of the King’s game, when my tweet at the MLB Battlegrounds in Hyde Park, London, caught Jim’s attention, leading to the first of many conversations about making his book into a documentary.

So here we are, in pre-production of a film about a game that showed unity between the U.S and the U.K, bringing joy and colour to a country draped in suffering and loss. We have a trailer on its way, and are deeply into the research. You’ll find us on our website, Twitter and Facebook. We’re looking for interview subjects, so please get in touch if you have information, stories, names, contacts or suggestions. … Let's get this ball rolling!

Happy July 4th ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

The months pass quickly, and it’s now the Fourth of July. Exactly one year from today, we expect to play our Great War baseball match at beautiful Farnham Park near London. Planning continues, and we hope to announce an exciting international match-up before the end of the summer.

Meanwhile, my baseball history of WWI is now available in bookstores and online. The title is From the Dugouts to the Trenches, from the University of Nebraska Press. Of course, this new book includes an account of the great 1918 Army-Navy baseball game at Stamford Bridge. We’ve posted links to reviews, podcasts and radio interviews on our News page. I hope you’ll check them out.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the news, photos and shared information from the Anglo-American Baseball Project and our many WWI sports friends. There’s a lot happening out there … in the US, UK and across Europe.

Come on, Spring ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

It’s been gratifying over these past few months to see the enthusiasm for Great War baseball. It’s not only here in the United States, but in the UK, Canada and Europe, too. We’ve heard from history and baseball fans from all over, especially through our Twitter account.

Our plans for the AABP Fourth of July “baseball match” in 2018 are progressing. We expect to make announcements soon about the two teams that will play at Farnham Park outside London. Many people are working hard on both sides of the Atlantic to make the game a reality.

We also know of two other programs planning to stage World War I baseball games here in America. We’re in touch with the organizers, and will pass along news as these events develop. Each should generate a good deal of excitement.

Meanwhile, spring training is almost here. And don't forget the World Baseball Classic!


Happy New Year …

Jim Leeke — AABP

We’ve spent an eventful year here at AABP, planning our Great War baseball match outside London on July 4, 2018. We’ve met many wonderful people in our travels in the US and the UK—really, too many to cite them all individually. So we’d like simply to say thank you and Happy New Year to the following groups and institutions:

We look forward to working with them all in 2017. Please check back regularly during the year for news and announcements.

Veterans Day ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

I was high above the Atlantic a month ago, North America somewhere over the horizon. My week in London as a baseball entrepreneur had ended. Or, rather, things were only then seriously beginning.

In my carry-on bag was a watercolor print of ballplayer Michael J. McNally of the Boston Red Sox, a gift from a new friend, historian and illustrator Tim Fox-Godden. “Minooka Mike” was the captain of the U.S. Navy HQ baseball team in 1918. He shook hands with King George V at the Stamford Bridge game and remembered it all his life.

What would Mike and the other army and navy boys on the field that day have made of our plans to replay their historic Great War game exactly 100 years later, on the 4th of July, 2018? What would they all have said?

Here’s what I would say to each of them, on this Veterans Day in America:


Farnham Park ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

I caught a fast train from Paddington one morning last month and sixteen minutes later stepped down in Slough (sounds like “plow”) in London’s western suburbs. Then I hopped into a big black British taxi and in a few minutes more reached Farnham Park, the best baseball diamond in England.

It had a beautiful grass infield. Dugouts. A pitcher’s mound. Major league dimensions to the outfield fences — 330 feet to left, 340 to right, 400 to straightaway center. Even a small manual scoreboard. True, it presented a few challenges to hosting a holiday crowd, but none that couldn’t be met by 2018.

Should we then book Farnham Park as the venue for our Great War “baseball match” on the Fourth of July, 2018? 

If you plan it, they will come. 

Batter up!

Ariel House ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

Ariel House, the headquarters of British baseball and softball, rises almost in the shadow of London’s iconic BT Tower. The taxi driver easily found the address earlier this month, although he’d never been there before. A guard asked me to sign in and handed me a badge.

Upstairs, bobbleheads danced everywhere, amid posters and autographed balls and framed jerseys. Two British baseball officials met me. Id seen their national team play well in September at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn. MLB Network had broadcast Great Britain’s final game with Israel and everybody was happy.

I shared AABPs plans for a WWI “baseball match” in 2018.

They smiled and asked how they might help.

There will always be an England. 

Flight to Heathrow ...

Jim Leeke — AABP

I was at 38,000 feet over the Atlantic, headed to London on October 4 to make our Great War “baseball match” a reality. After months of planning, whiteboards, email and interviews, it was time to determine whether our plan was feasible, or one of those big, ill-fated ideas that never quite get off the ground.

Yes, right, at the moment, not to sound too Monty Python-ish, I was literally off the ground. My head in the clouds—or well above them, actually. But what would happen in the days ahead, once in England? Would the Anglo-American Baseball Project fly, like my American Airlines plane? Or was it only a dead parrot? 

I imagined the UK customs officer:

“Business or pleasure?”


“Right, sir. Best of British luck.”

Coney Island ...

By Jim Leeke — AABP

It’s Labor Day weekend in the United States, and we’re already looking forward to the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn later this month. We’ll be on hand to cheer Great Britain in their game with Israel on September 22, and again the next night versus an opponent still to be determined. All games are slated for MCU Park at Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

You might have read that Trevor Hoffman, the great Padres closer, has joined the British staff as the bullpen coach. (His mother, Mikki, is British.) Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will manage Brazil in the same qualifier.

We wonder if British players say “baseball match,” as their ancestors did a century ago during the Great War. We’ll let you know. Meanwhile, here’s a short video of Hoffman talking about the games at Coney Island.

Happy July 4th ...

By Jim Leeke — AABP

Greetings to our supporters on Independence Day — or Interdependence Day, as our friends in the UK dubbed the holiday in 1918 during World War One. Two years from today, we plan to present our “baseball match” in England. We’ve had several productive meetings and calls in recent weeks, and plans are evolving. We’ll keep you posted when we have more details.

Meanwhile, our thanks go to Dean Karayanis of the History Author Show for his fine interview about Nine Innings for the King, the book that inspired us to create the AABP. Dean’s passion for history shines in every episode of his podcast. I enjoyed talking with him. Listen to the interview HERE or on the show’s various other outlets.

Also, congratulations to Major League Baseball for the Fort Bragg game yesterday between the Braves and Marlins. We really enjoyed it, and look forward to more in coming years.

Happy Fourth to everyone!

Both sides of the pond …

By Jane C. Clark — AABP

The Anglo-American Baseball Project is making good progress toward making our 2018 baseball match in England a reality. More and more people in the US and the UK are learning about our plans, and we’ve made several good new contacts recently. Here is some of what’s been happening:

We’re very pleased to announce that our 2018 event will help support Wings for Warriors. You can learn more about former US Navy corpsman Anthony "Doc" Ameen and his fine group on our Veterans page and at We hope to announce support for a second US veterans group soon. We’re also seeking partnerships with similar groups in the UK. Please get in touch with us if you have suggestions.

AABP cofounder and author Jim Leeke recently had a lively discussion with Dean Karayanis of the History Author Show. The episode will go live on July 4 on the show’s website, and will be available on iHeartRadio, iTunes and other digital outlets. We also expect to share a local print and video interview later in July. Follow us on social media (via the icons at the lower right of this page) for links to every new story and interview.

Our UK followers might like to know that we’re planning to see the national team from Great Britain play in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Brooklyn in September. Let us know if you're going, too. We’d love to meet you there and cheer on British baseball.

Thank you, Harry ...

By Jim Leeke — AABP

Did you know that department-store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge helped to form the military Anglo-American Baseball League during World War I? You probably know him best from the PBS program Mr Selfridge. During the war, he certainly lived up to his maxim: Develop imagination, throw away routine.

Here’s more about the founding of the league from “Baseball Follows the Flag to War Zone of Europe” by Patrick O’Flaherty, Atlanta Constitution, October 13, 1918:

Originally the Anglo-American league was the work of Wilson Cross, formerly of Cincinnati, but for the last sixteen years with the Vacuum Oil company in London. … He got together thirty Americans in London and induced them to form a limited company to be called the Anglo-American Baseball league, and to be underwritten for $30,000. He did this simply and solely as a baseball fan. He secured no help from the states, except that one of his stockholders is W. A. Parsons, of New York City, who owns about all of Coney island, and whose former London manager, H. E. Booker, has become managing director of the league. …

Others whom Cross secured to underwrite the league are: F. E. Powell, of the Anglo-American Oil company; H. Gordon Selfridge, of Selfridge’s, pioneer American department store in London; Robert Grant, Jr., of Lee Higginson & Co., Boston bankers; J. D. McAfee, of McAfee and Co., bankers; W. E. Burlock, of the Griffith pictures; W. E. Mandelick, of the London General Omnibus company; H. H. Lukens, of the DuPont Powder company; R. Newton Crane, barrister; Clarence Graff, of Raymond Pinchon & Co., New York bankers; G. A. Mower, of the Sturdevant Engineering company; S. A. Wallace, of the Associated Equipment company; George W. McKinley, of the Vacuum Oil company; F. R. Green, of the Electric Hose and Rubber company; C. F. Lippincott, C. S. Colton, Montague Battling, C. S. Cox, of Spalding’s; Dr. R. N. LeCran, D. D. S; R. B. Foster, of the O-Cedar Mop company; W. D. Morgan of the Royal Typewriter company; C. F. Lumb and J. M. Armel, of the Vacuum Oil company. …

They began by taking the big Chelsea football grounds under lease, with an option for a 1919 lease. These are the foremost football grounds in the metropolitan area. The grandstand seats 5,000 and there is bleacher space for 35,000 more.

Next they leased the arsenal football grounds at Highbury, London, with a grand stand seating capacity of 3,000 and bleacher capacity for 21,000 more.

Learn more about the Anglo-American Baseball League and the historic Fourth of July game in my book Nine Innings for the King.

Book news from SABR …

By Jane C. Clark — AABP

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) has announced that Jim Leeke’s book Nine Innings for the King has been nominated for the 2016 Larry Ritter Book Award. SABR’s Deadball Era Committee presents the award annually to recognize the best new baseball book primarily set in the Deadball Era.

Among SABR’s biggest and most diverse groups, the Deadball Era Committee has over 400 members. Books nominated this year include many outstanding works, among them The Colonel and Hug by Steve Steinberg and Lyle Spatz, Charles C. Alexander’s The Miracle Braves, 1914-1916 and Charles Leerhsen’s Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. Congratulations, Jim, for being in such fine company!

Order your copy of Nine Innings for the King on the AABP book page.

Thank you, Commissioners …

By Jim Leeke — AABP

We are grateful to the United States World War One Centennial Commission for endorsing our project to recreate the historic WWI baseball game in England on the Fourth of July, 2018. Created by an act of Congress, the commission plans, develops and executes programs, projects and activities to commemorate the WWI centennial. You’ll notice the commission’s logo now on our Home page.

You may know that the commission recently announced the design for the planned World War One memorial in Washington, D.C. This memorial will be built on the edge of Pershing Park, near the White House. See more on the winning design in this article from the Washington Post.

We look forward to learning about the commission’s many other activities in 2017 and 2018.