Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Ray Makepeace


Date and Place of Birth: March 5, 1915 Minneapolis, Minnesota

Died: December 20, 2005 Minneapolis, Minnesota

Baseball Experience: Minor League
Staff Sergeant
Military Unit:
60th Coast Artillery US Army

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations


Raymond L "Ray" Makepeace was born on March 5, 1915 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from DeLa Salle High School in Minneapolis in 1932, and tried out with Duluth of the Northern League. The team soon released him and he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps spending two years in northern Minnesota logging camps.


In 1937, Makepeace had a tryout with the Cardinals farm team at Union City of the Kitty League. Union City signed the 22-year-old and he pitched a handful of games before developing a sore arm. He continued in amateur baseball as a player and manager, and later attempted a further unsuccessful comeback with Sioux Falls of the Nebraska League.

Working in a defense plant just before the war, Makepeace enlisted to serve in the Philippines with the Army. He arrived in April 1941 with the 60th Coast Artillery at Corregidor island.

Following their attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces were swift to assault the Philippines and the island surrendered in May 1942. Staff Sergeant Makepeace was captured and given temporary duty repairing boats in Manila harbour before being assigned to Manila Port detail. As part of 400 men used to unload and load ships, Makepeace had the opportunity to play softball on rest days playing barefoot and bare handed with improvised bat and ball.

One day he was watching Japanese soldiers playing baseball when a ball rolled to his feet. As he bent down to pick it up one of the soldiers asked if he knew Ted Williams. He said he did. He was then asked if he knew Babe Ruth. He said he knew him too. The soldier smiled broadly and said, “Fuck Babe Ruth!”

Makepeace later shipped to Japan and held at Osaka Main Camp in Chikko, Osaka until the end of the war.

Ray Makepeace passed away on December 20, 2005 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was 90 years old and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, South Minneapolis.


Created January 24, 2008.



Copyright © 2008 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.