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Vintage baseball game in Newport honors WWI hero

By Mark Reynolds
via the Providence Journal web site

NWC Baseball gameAir Force Lt. Col. Chris Cornette, playing for the Army team, takes a practice wsing while Navy and Army managers go over the ground rules with the umpires before the WWI baseball game in Providence, RI on September 29. [The providence Journal / Glenn Osmundson]NEWPORT, R.I. — Bernardo Cardines was an Italian immigrant, a resident alien, a tailor and a future soldier who lived just a short distance from one of the earliest baseball parks in the United States.

He had journeyed to Rhode Island by his 15th birthday, registered for the draft by his 22nd birthday. He never celebrated his 23rd birthday. He was killed on a battlefield in France during World War I.

Remembering the sacrifice of the immigrant was one of the story lines Friday when the iconic ball field on America’s Cup Way was rededicated in Cardines’ name.

The event, organized in part by the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, also featured an old-fashioned baseball game between Naval War College students dressed in World War I-era Navy and Army baseball uniforms.

Baseball was an element in diplomacy that glued together the Western alliance and paved the way for the meaningful service of Cardines and many other U.S. aliens, according to a member of the centennial commission, John D. Monahan, a retired U.S. Army major who knows his history.

About 25 percent of the individuals who served in the American Expeditionary Forces were not natives of the United States, says Monahan.

“That’s absolutely critical to the story,” said Monahan.

Cardines was born in Venafro, Italy, and he arrived in the U.S. in 1909, joining his father, a tailor. He became a tailor himself. He worked in a business on Thames Street and lived with relatives on Sanford Street — on the other side of the ballpark.

A year after the United States entered World War I, he was among U.S. soldiers who boarded a troopship in Philadelphia for deployment to Europe to serve under Gen. John J. Pershing.

Read the entire article on the Providence Journal web site here.

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