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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.
"From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War would make a fine acquisition for any public library, no matter how small."—G. Louis Heath, ARETE
— G. Louis Heath
"To be sure, the Great War has been written about extensively, but this project takes a hanging curveball and knocks it out of the park."—Matt Sutherland, Foreword
— Matt Sutherland
"[From the Dugouts to the Trenches] may well now be the definitive work on the subject."—Doug Wilson, Sport in American History
— Doug Wilson
"Equal parts baseball, business and military history. Readers who enjoy any of these topics will enjoy reading this book."—Guy Who Reviews Sports Books
— Guy Who Reviews Sports Books
"From Dugouts to the Trenches is a wonderful complement to Leeke's previous two books on baseball and World War I. It will be a fine addition to the library of baseball enthusiasts and students of the American experience in the Great War."—Edward Thomas, Roads to the Great War blog
— Edward Thomas
"The most important aspect of Jim Leeke's hardcover book From the Dugout to the Trenches is the story it tells of baseball's involvement in World War I. . . . Devoted baseball fans will take considerable pride in understanding the depth of involvement since the sport played such a pivotal role in American society."—Bob Wirz, Inside Game
— Bob Wirz
"Beyond the game, this book provides useful insights into the social and political implications of World War I on organized baseball. Leeke's thorough research and writing style makes this study accessible to both the common reader and the professional historian, and would be a useful addition to any college course on the Great War or baseball."—Joseph-James Ahern, On Point: The Journal of Army History
— Joseph-James Ahern
"From the Dugouts to the Trenches is a fascinating read that ties baseball to the larger societal issues of the time. This should be a must-add for any serious baseball historian's library and will likely only increase the curiosity of readers into this particular time frame in baseball history."—Baseball Historian
— Baseball Historian
“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
— Dean Karayanis
“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
— Mitchell Yockelson
“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
— L. M. Sutter