The Navy World Series Throwback Softball game was held at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk’s historic McClure Field.
During World War II, some of the country’s premier athletes were enlisting in the military. This resulted in some of the biggest names in baseball, including Bob Feller, Pee Wee Reese, Dom DiMaggio, and Phil Rizzuto, playing on NAVSTA Norfolk’s McClure Field for one of the base’s two teams; the Naval Training Station Blue Jackets and the Naval Air Station Airmen. During this time, Major League teams came to the base to play the two teams, with all proceeds benefiting the war bonds effort. In 1943, the two teams played the first Navy World Series in a best of seven games, all held at McClure Field. In honor of that history, NAVSTA Norfolk now holds an annual Navy World Series Throwback Softball Game.
“It’s an honor coaching and playing on this field,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Senior Chief, Marvin Knowles. Knowles coached this year’s Airmen team. “You realize how special this field is as it relates to, not only the Navy, but the entire country, with it being so old and next year being it’s hundredth year.”
The events began with a Home Run Derby where each player from both teams had three minutes to hit as many pitches as possible. The two with the highest scores hit against each other in the end, with Fireman Jackson Burke, from the Naval Training Station Bluejackets winning. Following the derby, NAVSTA Norfolk’s Command Master Chief, Marc Puco, threw the first pitch to kick off the game.
“I think it’s important to have events like this where sailors can come out with their families and have a good time and learn some history at the same time,” said Master Chief Puco.
Friday’s event was free and open to all military, family members and DOD ID holders. Upon arriving, guests received old-fashioned style tickets and programs with historical facts about the field and old ads to show what life was like during the first Navy World Series Games. Food and drinks were available for guests at “throwback” prices, including 50 cent hot dogs.
“I love seeing the history of this field brought back to life. The authenticity of the old-fashioned uniforms and “throwback” prices for the concessions make it fun. And who doesn’t love watching a softball game,” said Puco.
This year, the Naval Air Station Airmen beat the Bluejackets with a 14-3 score.
After the excitement of the win, Senior Chief Knowles exclaimed, hopefully, “We’re going to keep this winning streak going!” Senior Chief Knowles plans on returning next year to coach.
Naval Station Norfolk plans on continuing this annual event, with next year being the field’s centennial celebration. If you’d like to volunteer or try out for next year’s teams, contact Naval Station Norfolk’s MWR office for more information.