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From the Dugouts to the Trenches

Baseball during the Great War

Jim Leeke

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 05/2017
Pages: 280
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496201614


2018 SABR Baseball Research Award Winner Baseball, like the rest of the country, changed dramatically when the United States entered World War I, and Jim Leeke brings these changes to life in From the Dugouts to the Trenches. He deftly describes how the war obliterated big league clubs and largely dismantled the Minor Leagues, as many prominent players joined the military and went overseas. By the war's end more than 1,250 ballplayers, team owners, and sportswriters would serve, demonstrating that while the war was "over there," it had a considerable impact on the national pastime.  Leeke tells the stories of those who served, as well as organized baseball's response, including its generosity and patriotism. He weaves into his narrative the story of African American players who were barred from the Major Leagues but who nevertheless swapped their jerseys for fatigues, as well as the stories of those who were killed in action—and by diseases or accidents—and what their deaths meant to teammates, fans, and the sport in general.From the Dugouts to the Trenches illuminates this influential and fascinating period in baseball history, as nineteen months of upheaval and turmoil changed the sport—and the world—forever.


Jim Leeke, a former news journalist and U.S. Navy veteran, has covered Major League Baseball for a Northern California suburban daily. He is the author of several books, including Nine Innings for the King: The Day Wartime London Stopped for Baseball, July 4, 1918 and Ballplayers in the Great War: Newspaper Accounts of Major Leaguers in World War I Military Service.


"Once again Jim Leeke gives us kids in the grandstands our fifty cents' worth. From the Dugouts to the Trenches has the reader tugging Jim's jersey and begging, 'Say, mister. Got any more of them swell stories?'"—Dean Karayanis, radio host of the History Author Show in New York City  

"A first-rate contribution to baseball and Great War scholarship."—Mitchell Yockelson, author of Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing's Warrior's Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I  

"Leeke's trenchant look at baseball during the Great War describes grandees, players, and journalists struggling to find a footing in the suddenly hobbled game. Meanwhile, their colleagues overseas witness the grim dawn of the modern world. Riveting and insightful."—L. M. Sutter, author of Arlie Latham: A Baseball Biography of the Freshest Man on Earth