First off, I certainly did not expect this book make its way into the hands of thousands of readers and appreciate the support of the people who have helped me share and preserve the Navy Pre-Flight story, hosting events from Texas to Boston. The most rewarding part of this journey has come in the mailbox, where I've received dozens of long-hidden family pictures and letters from children and friends of the Navy players who shared an unshakable war-time connection to Ted Williams and other ML teammates.
Letters prove that the Cloudbusters stayed in touch for the rest of their lives and the press never caught wind of it. Here are a few highlights from 2018:
"Ted" Walkenhorst is the son of outfielder Walter Walkenhorst, pictured below with Williams at Bronson Field. Walkenhorst never got a chance to talk to his father about his playing days with Williams because he died of cancer when Walkenhorst was just 17. Years later, Walkenhorst wrote a letter to the famous hitter (who inspired his nickname), asking if he remembered his Dad. See Williams's thoughtful reply, confirming his "respect" for every man who trained in the Naval aviation program.
A surprise end-of-the-year reachout came from Kimo Doole, son of Jimmy Doole, a pitcher from Dartmouth. Doole's letter to coach Kepler was published on pp. 257-258, summarizing his clear-eyed account of teammates like Williams, Sain and Pesky, and memories of the Yanklands game at Yankee Stadium with Babe Ruth. After the war Jimmy Doole struck out George Bush when Dartmouth played Yale. Thanks to his son Kimo, Doole's treasure trove of Chapel Hill WWII letters, scorecards, and pictures capturing rare footage of the Navy baseball players is housed at Chapman University. Can't wait to see them!
Pictures of Ted at Jama