The Gas and Flame Men
Baseball and the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I
by Jim Leeke
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add firstname.lastname@example.org as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 01 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2024
University of Nebraska Press, Potomac Books
The Gas and Flame Men is the first full account of Major League ballplayers who served in the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I. Four players, two club executives, and a manager served in the small and hastily formed branch, six of them as gas officers. Remarkably, five of the seven—Christy Mathewson, Branch Rickey, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, and Eppa “Jeptha” Rixey—are now enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The son of a sixth Hall of Famer, player and manager Ned Hanlon, was a young officer killed in action in France with the First Gas Regiment. Prominent chemical soldiers also included veteran Major League catcher and future manager George “Gabby” Street and Boston Braves president and former Harvard football coach Percy D. Haughton.
The Gas and Flame Men explores how these famous baseball men, along with an eclectic mix of polo players, collegiate baseball and football stars, professors, architects, and prominent social figures all came together in the Chemical Warfare Service. Jim Leeke examines their service and its long-term effects on their physical and mental health—and on Major League Baseball and the world of sports. The Gas and Flame Men also addresses historical inaccuracies and misperceptions surrounding Christy Mathewson’s early death from tuberculosis in 1925, long attributed to wartime gas exposure.
“Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Eppa Rixey, and Branch Rickey—all members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Gas and Flame Men during the Great War. Jim Leeke knows the connection between baseball and the war better than anybody. He’ll keep you turning pages as he tells their stories, and more.”—Jan Finkel, 2012 recipient of SABR’s Bob Davids Award
“Jim Leeke scores again with The Gas and Flame Men, delivering a fascinating account of America’s World War I response to German chemical warfare and the important part a group of Major League Baseball stars and other key sports figures played in it.”—Rick Huhn, author of The Chalmers Race: Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession
“To steal a baseball term, The Gas and Flame Men is an out-of-the-park grand slam. No one knows more than Jim Leeke about the intersection of America’s national pastime and the Great War. A wonderful story you won’t want to put down.”—Mitchell Yockelson, author of Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing’s Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 2 members
The Gas and Flame Men is a story about the Chemical Warfare Service. This branch of the army was formed to create defensive and offensive chemical warfare weapons and strategy against the Germans, who had first started using poisonous gas as well as flamethrower as offensive war strategy.
Leeke looks at the baseball players who were in this unit: Gabby Street, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Eppa Rixey, George Sisler, and former player turned manager and executive, Branch Rickey, and their experiences in the Great War.
The author uses a mix of personal correspondence from these men as well as other enlisted soldiers, officers, and newspaper reports to give the reader a vivid account of what conditions were like for the members of the Chemical Warfare Service during the war. The author also helps the reader get to know these players on a more intimate level by talking about their respective careers up to enlistment and what recuperating from injuries/illness and life was like post-war.
I found this book to be an excellent, highly researched book that I would recommend to baseball fans and World War I buffs.
My thanks to The University of Nebraska Press, Potomac Books, author Jim Leeke, and NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book. My opinions are my own.