Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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John Corbett


Position: Pitcher

Born: Revere, Massachusetts October 10, 1919
Revere, Massachusetts September 1992
Military Service:

John CorbettJohn Corbett was born on October 10, 1919, and played high school baseball with the Immaculate Conception School and was on the Catholic League All-Star team. After school, Corbett pitched and played third base in the town league and had a tryout with the Boston Braves, surviving until the last cut.

Aged 22, Corbett entered military service in May 1942, and was stationed in England with the 837th Air Engineer Squadron at Wattisham – a Strategic Air Depot of the Eighth Air Force – where he drove 2-and-half ton GMC trucks hauling bombs, food, troops and anything else that needed to be moved. Wattisham is located in East Anglia, a very rural part of England made up primarily of farmland. “I thought England was all farms until I went [to London],” he wrote in a letter to his wife. “Every direction we go, farms, farms, farms. London is just like Boston or any of our cities. Subways, trackless trolleys, beautiful theatres, plenty of cabs, people and excitement.”

A surprisingly mild spring in 1943, gave Corbett the opportunity to play plenty of baseball in his spare time. Every company on the base organized a team and the 837th Engineers went undefeated. Corbett was then selected for the base team - the Air Service Command Red Devils – and he became the teams mound ace. "My arm is in real good shape," he told his wife in a letter dated April 6, 1943. In fact, his arm helped the Red Devils to the quarterfinals of the 1943 ETO World Series, where they were beaten, 5-3, by the 116th Infantry Yankees, eventual ETO champions.


Red Devils
Air Service Command Red Devils in England, 1943 (John Corbett is front row, second left)

Corbett continued to pitch for the Red Devils during 1944 but left England for Belgium after D-Day. He returned to England in 1945 and hurled for the 1st Air Depot Shuttle-Raiders throughout the summer before returning home to Revere in November 1945.

John Corbett worked for the federal government Veterans Administration after being discharged from military service. He went on to earn a law degree at night school and opened a small practice but continued to work full-time as a real estate appraiser for the Federal Housing Administration. "My father did not play baseball again," explains his daughter Joanne Corbett. "But he was a great follower of the Red Sox and one of the founders of the Revere Little League."


John Corbett passed away in September 1992 at the age of 72. "He loved baseball and everyone says he was a really good pitcher," remembers Joanne.


Read John Corbett's Baseball in Wartime blog entry


(Thanks to Joanne Corbett for help with her father's biography)


Copyright © 2010 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.