NEWPORT, R.I. — Modern-day sailors and soldiers said they were honored to play baseball Friday to recreate the U.S. Army versus Navy games from World War I.
The U.S. Naval War College recognized the centennial of America’s involvement in the war by planning the game in Newport, Rhode Island.
“We’re celebrating a game we love and we’re celebrating history,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Justin Dargan, captain of the Navy team. “To be part of something like this is incredible.”
Organizers said it was a way to teach people more about the war, mark the anniversary, and have a little fun. The game— a first of its kind for the college— was free and open to the public.
“It’s a baseball game, but we’re trying to remind the American public of this rich history that we all have a piece of,” said David Kohnen, who oversees the college’s John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research.
Navy Adm. William S. Sims organized a baseball league in Ireland in 1917. He wanted to overcome tensions between Americans and local residents, foster collaboration among allies and give service members something fun to do during off hours. Major League Baseball players who were serving in the military participated in the games.
Before Friday’s game, the Rhode Island World War I Centennial Commission rededicated the field, Cardines Field, in honor of Bernardo Cardines. Cardines was an Italian immigrant from Newport who fought and died in World War I.
Jack Monahan, a member of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, said he was proud of Newport for keeping Cardines’ memory alive.
War college students competed in historically accurate, flannel uniforms. They were “scratchy, hot and awesome,” said Army Maj. Rick Tang, captain of the Army team. The Navy team won 13-7.
Tang said the game was an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of great Americans.
“It’s important to remember where you came from,” he said.