Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

 

 

Gary Bedingfield's Biography

Gary Bedingfield lives in Glasgow, Scotland and is recognized as a leading expert in baseball during WWII. He runs Gary Bedingfield Training and founded the Baseball in Wartime network in 2001.

Gary Bedingfield

For an Englishman, my enthusiasm for baseball may seem a tad strange. Baseball does not enjoy a big following in Britain, and yet I developed a passion for the American national pastime at a tender age. My interest in baseball begins with my father, who was born and raised in England but, as a musician, toured the American Air Force bases during the early 1960s. He developed a keen interest in baseball during this time by watching the Air Force teams play and participating in the occasional scratch games.

As I was growing up we would play catch with the gloves he had acquired from the military and I really got hooked at a very young age. By the time I was 12 I was playing in a competitive league and continued to do so for the next 20 years.

Most of those years I was a catcher with the Enfield Spartans -  a team that reached the British finals every year from 1989 to 1994 and were British champions four of those years. I also played for the Great Britain national and Olympic teams, and coached varsity baseball at the American School in London. I am privileged to say I have played against such talented professionals as George Foster, Tug McGraw, Graig Nettles, Mark Fidrych and Luis Tiant.

Fleeting moments of my own achievements will always be with me, but more than anything I enjoy the things that make baseball so perfect - the ballfields with their lovingly maintained grass infield, the rich brown dirt base paths, and perfectly laid white lines; the thud of a fresh white baseball hitting a well-seasoned glove; and the grace and precision of my teammates as they execute with perfection seemingly impossible plays. There's no doubt about it - I love baseball.

Gary Bedingfield
As you can see, I started playing
baseball at a young age

As my playing days came to an end, I developed an appetite for the history of the game, searching for links between baseball and my own country. I have always been interested in WWII history and it was in the mid-90s I was thinking about American servicemen in Britain during the war and wondering what their affiliation with baseball could have been. Were there any minor league players here? Maybe even a major league player or two might have passed through Britain

A little research showed that many ball players had indeed served and also played baseball in this country during the war. I'd had professional baseball on my doorstep, albeit half a century ago!

That was really the spark I needed. The amazing thing was no one had written about overseas military baseball in WWII. I began writing articles for Army magazine, Our State, Roanoker, Die Hard and Vintage and Classic Baseball Collector Magazine. This led to the publication of Baseball in World War II Europe by Arcadia Publishing in 2000. October 2008, sees the release of When Baseball Went to War by Triumph, a book I have heavily been heavily involved in since the WBWTW conference in New Orleans in November 2007.

The Baseball in Wartime website was initially launched in 2000 hosting player biographies and information relating to military games from WWII. In 2006, the site was relaunched - it now hosts in excess of 500 player biographies, feature articles, team rosters and game results.

I currently live in Glasgow, Scotland and run my own training company, Gary Bedingfield Training, delivering Train the Trainer courses and helping people of all ages to develop the skills needed to gain employment.

And, for the record, I'm a Dodgers' fan!

January 2010 radio interview with Gary Bedingfield

 

Gary Bedingfield's Written Work on Wartime Baseball

Books
Title Publisher Date
Baseball in World War II Europe Arcadia Publishing 2000
When Baseball Went to War (contributing author) Triumph 2008
Baseball's Dead of WWII: A Roster of Professional Players Who Died McFarland 2009
Magazines
Title Publication Date
The Battle of Wembley USA Softball Magazine March/April1996
Taking Baseball to War Army September 1996
When Virginia Baseball Went to War Roanoker April 1997
The Final Pitch Our State June 1998
Everything to Live For: Remembering "Lefty" Brewer Vintage and Classic Baseball Collector Magazine July/Aug 1998
Ambassadors of the Game Army August 1998
Paul Campbell Played for the Love of the Game Diehard December 1998
Until the Boys Came Home Balls and Strikes July/Aug 1998
Yanks Touch Base and the City's Hearts Bygones (Nottingham Evening Post) July 3, 1999
Baseball in Wartime Newsletter (monthly) www.baseballinwartime.com 2007 onwards
Baseball in the Military (contributing author) Stars and Stripes Supplement September 2008

Updated: January 5, 2010