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The Newport Gulls in close collaboration with Naval History and Heritage Command and U.S. Naval War College (NWC) honored a historic baseball game that took place on July 4, 1918 between U.S. Army and Navy service members by throwing out a symbolic first pitch. The game took place exactly 100 years later on July 4, 2018.
The first pitch, similar to that originally thrown by King George V at Stamford Bridge in London a century ago, kicked off the Gulls’ game at the historic Cardines Field in downtown Newport.The actual baseball, signed by King George V, can be viewed at Newport’s own Naval War College Museum.
In addition, the original baseball program as used by Adm. William S. Sims during the historic Army-Navy game in London will be on display along with an inscribed commemorative pocket watch, as presented to Machinist’s Mate 1stClass John “Jack” Egan by King George V on the 4th of July 1918.For the first time in the century since the ballgame of 1918, these important artifacts will appear together at the Naval War College Museum.
The first pitch will be thrown by Dr. Nat Sims, the grandson of Adm. William S. Sims, who at the time served as commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and was the driving force behind the establishment of baseball games during that period of time. The effort was to bring together various groups of people to focus on the enemy.
In addition to Dr. Sims, two other grandchildren of the Navy baseball players participated in the ceremonial first pitch. Great grandson of the Navy catcher, Ens. Charles Fairchild Fuller, Fuller Cowles, stood in to receive the first pitch from Dr. Sims.The great-grandson of Navy left fielder, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class John “Jack” Egan, John DeGraff, also participated in the ceremonial first pitch as well as Lt. Cmdr. Justin Dargan, a recent NWC graduate.
Along with the 4th of July 2018 centenary ballgame, the Naval War College Museum will open a display about the centenary of the historic Army-Navy ballgame of 1918 in the Newport Visitor’s Center adjacent to Cardines Field. Among the oldest ballparks in the United States and which is named after U.S. Army Pvt. Bernardo Cardines, who was killed in action in September 1918.