by Gary Bedingfield
The 1943 ETO (European Theater of Operations) World Series was held in England over a four-day period at the Eighth Air Force Headquarters, Bushy Park, London. Starting on Monday, September 27 and concluding on Thursday, September 30. The event featured 20 teams from all across England and Northern Ireland, and was arranged by Major Donald Martin (ETO Special Service athletic officer). Each team was permitted a roster of 15 enlisted men and one officer.
|The 1943 ETO World Series Lineup|
|CBS Clowns||US Army (Central Base Section)|
|Buccaneers||US Army (Eastern Base Section)|
|116th Infantry Regiment Yankees||US Army (Field Force)|
|Agitators||US Army (Northern Ireland)|
|Yanks||US Army (Service of Supply)|
|American School Center Angels||US Army (Southern Base Section)|
|General Hospital Medics||US Army (Southern Base Section)|
|Signal Company Dodgers||US Army (Southern Base Section)|
|Americans||US Army (Western Base Section)|
|Military Police Nitesticks||US Army (Western Base Section)|
|Port Ramblers||US Army (Western Base Section)|
|Signal Hounds||US Army (Western Base Section)|
|Derry Marines||US Marine Corps (Northern Ireland)|
|Creevaghs||US Navy (Northern Ireland)|
|901st Engineers||USAAF (Eighth Air Force HQ)|
|Air Support Command Eagles||USAAF (Eighth Air Force)|
|Bomber Command Moles||USAAF (Eighth Air Force)|
|Fighter Command Thunderbolts||USAAF (Eighth Air Force)|
|Service Command Red Devils||USAAF (Eighth Air Force)|
|Composite Command Mustangs||USAAF (Northern Ireland)|
Favorites to win the tournament were the CBS Clowns, led by Second Lieutenant Charles “Chuck” Eisenmann, formerly of the San Diego Padres.
In the preliminary round on September 27, the games went as anticipated. The CBS Clowns beat the Signal Hounds with Eisenmann striking out 19; Mauro Duca hurled a three-hitter for the Fighter Command Thunderbolts over the Port Ramblers; Fran Hecker of the ASC Angels beat the Yanks, 7-5, and Carl Smith of the Agitators beat the Signal Company Dodgers, 2 to 1, in 10 innings, striking out 21 along the way.
There was, however, one surprise. A previously unheard of team called the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees beat the Bomb Group Moles, 4 to 1, in 11 innings, with Elmer Wright outdueling Joe Rundus. The Moles had been tipped to be semi-finalists at least and were shocked to be out of the tournament at such an early stage.
The second round of preliminary games on September 28, saw the CBS Clowns trounce the Air Support Command Eagles, 7 to 1; the Fighter Command Thunderbolts overcome the Agitators, 2 to 1, and the darkhorse 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees cruise past the Derry Marines, 9 to 1.
|Chuck Eisenmann's CBS Clowns|
In quarter final games on September 29, it took 13 innings for the 901st Engineers to defeat the ASC Angels, 3 to 2, while the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees disposed of the Service Command Red Devils, 5 to 3.
Later the same day, Doug Gillette hurled the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees into the finals by defeating the 901st Engineers, 7 to 3. But the real upset of the afternoon was the 3-2 defeat of the CBS Clowns by the Fighter Command Thunderbolts. Mauro Duca scattered six hits with nine strike outs while Chuck Eisenmann struck out 15 in a losing cause.
The final on September 30, proved to be a thrilling affair between the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees and the Fighter Command Thunderbolts. Elmer Wright - formerly with Jackson of the Southeastern League was the starter for the Yankees, while the Thunderbolts went with Mauro Duca, who had previously pitched for Twin Falls of the Pioneer League.
The game was scoreless for three innings. The Thunderbolts managed singles off Wright in the second and third innings, but without success. However, they scored a run in the fourth on a walk, a single and a double and Doug Gillette - who was catching for the 116th and had pitched in the minors for the Greensburg of the Penn State Association in the mid-30s - came to the mound and let in two more runs on wild pitches.
The Yankees were quick to respond in the bottom half of the inning, tying up the game by scoring on two doubles, a single and a base on balls.
With the score tied, 3-3, the Yankees took the lead in the sixth when two men were safe on errors and scored when a batted ball got past the second baseman and went into right field. They tallied again in the seventh, Frank Draper of Bedford, Virginia, getting his second triple of the game, but was out at the plate trying to score when Joe Gubernot of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, hit to second. In the seventh inning, Gubernot came home on an error at first for the final tally of the game and Gillette pitched shutout ball for five innings to give the Yankees a memorable win and the ETO World Series crown.
|116th Infantry Regiment Yankees|
Eight months after the 1943 ETO World Series was
played the 116th
Infantry Regiment Yankees were in a different kind of battle.
They were among the first troops to land at Omaha Beach, Normandy, on
June 6, 1944.
Frank Draper, who hit two triples in the series final; Elmer Wright, who
pitched so effectively throughout the tournament; and Louis Alberigo, who
played third base and had two hits in the final, all lost their lives on the
Catcher Robert Marsico and first baseman Carl Proffitt
(who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry) were wounded
and evacuated to military hospitals in England.
Eight months after the 1943 ETO World Series was played the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees were in a different kind of battle. They were among the first troops to land at Omaha Beach, Normandy, on June 6, 1944.
Frank Draper, who hit two triples in the series final; Elmer Wright, who pitched so effectively throughout the tournament; and Louis Alberigo, who played third base and had two hits in the final, all lost their lives on the beach.
Catcher Robert Marsico and first baseman Carl Proffitt (who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry) were wounded and evacuated to military hospitals in England.