“The Maine base ball club” — All blown up at Havana except no. 1 J.H. Bloomer (1898)

The USS Maine, the United States Navy’s second commissioned pre-dreadnought battleship, is best known for sinking during an explosion on February 15, 1898 in Havana harbor, where she had been sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain. Responsibility for the explosion, which killed over 250 people, still remains unclear, but the news media in the US at the time blamed Spain, and the event (popularized in the phrase “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”) was one of the most important events in the run-up to the Spanish–American War.

Most of the members of the USS Maine baseball club (pictured above) died during the sinking of their ship, except for one J.H. Bloomer, shown at the top left. The Black man on the top right is William Lambert of Hampton, VA. He was the ship’s engine stoker and the team’s star pitcher. Professional baseball was racially segregated at the time, but these types of amateur teams on US Navy ships were not always so.

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