Monday, May 30, 2011
All but one USS Maine player died when ship sank in Havana Harbor
The baseball squad from the battleship USS Maine, which won the Navy baseball championship held in Key West, Fla. in December, 1897.
According to the Library of Congress, two months after this photo was taken -- on Feb. 15, 1898 -- each team member except for J.H. Bloomer (back, left) was killed when the Maine exploded and sank in Havana Harbor, killing 260 sailors and sparking the Spanish-American War.
In Cuba, the island's third and final War for Independence from Spain had begun in February, 1895 and wiped out baseball seasons in 1895 and 1896, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961.
Despite the Cuban insurrection, the Spanish government allowed baseball to be played in Havana in 1897-98, but the season lasted only 14 games because of the United State's declaration of war against Spain.
With Cuba eventually under U.S. control, the Cuban League returned with a full season in 1899 with Habanista beating Almendarista and Cuba for the pennant.