#Hot Corner

Baseball behind the wire, circa 1864

Today in the Times, George Kirsch writes about baseball games played in Civil War prisoner-of-war camps. Here's a bit about an 1864 contest between Confederacy prisoners held at Johnson's Island, Ohio:

Another prisoner, William Peel of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, recalled that several hundred dollars was wagered on the game by players and outsiders, which was won by the Southern club, 19 to 11. Lt. Michael McNamara, who wrote another account of this game, estimated the crowd of spectators at about 3,000, including inmates, officers and citizens of Sandusky. He recalled: "So apprehensive were the prison officials that the game was gotten up for the purpose of covering an attempt to break out, that they had the slides of the port holes" of a patrol vessel "drawn back and the guns prepared for action."

Although a local newspaper published a detailed and highly favorable account of the game, some radical Northern journals were highly critical of the decision by Johnson Island’s commanding officer to allow it to proceed. According to McNamara, "their malicious efforts were successful, the commander was removed, and the amusement of the unhappy prisoners, for the time being, cut off."

Hirsch has written a whole book on this subject; there's also a good book about P.O.W. baseball in World War II if you're interested in such things (as I am).

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