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July Fourth baseball game pays tribute to WWI baseball game

July 4, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ceremonial first pitch at a July Fourth baseball game in Rhode Island will be reminiscent of the same ritual at a game played during World War I a century ago.

U.S. Navy Adm. William S. Sims organized a baseball league in Europe in 1917.

King George V watched the Navy triumph in the Army versus Navy World Series on Independence Day in 1918 in London.

The Newport Gulls game Wednesday night in Newport, Rhode Island, will begin with Sims’ grandson throwing the first pitch to great grandchildren of men who played for the Navy in the championship.

Artifacts will be displayed, including a baseball the king signed, commemorative watch presented to the winning players and the 1918 scorecard. The U.S. Naval War College and the Naval History and Heritage Command organized it to teach people about history in a different way.

“You know how important this history is, but sometimes people don’t have a point of relevance to understand,” said David Kohnen, who oversees the college’s John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research and the Naval War College Museum. “This is one way for us to bring the past to a contemporary relevance for a wider audience.”

Kohnen said it’s notable that on July Fourth, as America was celebrating its independence from England, the British monarch celebrated American culture with troops at the 1918 game.

Michael Falcone, director of baseball operations for the Newport Gulls, said the theme seemed like a perfect fit since the team was playing on the holiday. The Newport Gulls is a summer collegiate baseball team.

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