Monday, November 7, 2016

Carl Castlemann Jones (1892-1918): Baseball player killed in WWI

Carl Jones (grave photo by Michael Colbruno)
PLOT 45 

Carl Castlemann Jones was a semi-professional baseball player who was killed in WWI. 

He born in Oakland in 1892 to Ada and Fred Soule Jones. He was raised in Piedmont and became a noted baseball player in the area.  In 1914, he played second base for Bill Glavin’s Federals team which participated in a four-team league that played under artificial lights – still quite a novelty at that time.

During the winter of 1914/15, he played for the Dreier & Nevis team in the Oakland Merchant’s League. Then, during the summer of 1915, he played in the Carbon-Emery League in Utah, a league made up of coal mining teams. Jones led that circuit with a .387 batting average. 

In October 1915, he was signed by the Maxwell Hardware Company to play in the highly competitive semi-pro Oakland Tribune Midwinter League. His teammates that year included Carl Zamloch, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1913 and remained in minor league baseball into the 1930s; Tom Fitzsimmons, who would play for Brooklyn in 1919; Ralph Croll, who would go on to play for the Oakland Oaks and Joe Devine, who had made a couple of appearances with the Oaks that summer.

In 1916, he received a lucrative offer from the Ambrose Tailors baseball team in Oakland, but that but ended up Jackson in Amador County, California, where he played throughout the summer. He joined Alameda in the Midwinter League in November 1916, then was appointed manager of the newly-formed Exeter Athletics in March 1917.

He was drafted into military service in September 1917, and was assigned to Camp Lewis at American Lake, near Tacoma, Washington. He served with Company K of the 363rd Infantry Regiment and in April 1918, where he asked friends back in Oakland for bats, gloves and uniforms to help him organize a baseball team. The Oakland Tribune responded by arranging benefit shows at Pantages Theater with all proceeds being used to buy equipment for troops.

Jones played shortstop for the 363rd Regiment baseball team at American Lake, but the season was short-lived as the regiment, as part of the 91st Division, was on its way overseas and arrived in France in June 1918.

Sergeant Carl Jones was killed in action during the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1918. The Battle of the Argonne Forest (also known as the
Meuse-Argonne Offensive), was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. 

The battle was fought from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, a total of 47 days. The battle was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought the war to an end. 

The battle cost 28,000 German lives and 26,277 American lives, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force, which was commanded by General John J. Pershing. American losses were exacerbated by the inexperience of many of the troops and tactics used during the early phases of the operation.

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