On one of his frequent speaking engagements, the late Gary Moore, an inspirational and motivational speaker, gave the backstory of his award-winning book, Playing With The Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, World War II, and the Long Journey Home.
The book tells a brief period in his father’s life that he shared with his son just before he died. Gary’s mother knew the story and said she would have never revealed the story if his father had not told him. After Gary researched and saw his father’s medals, he wrote the book.
Gary’s father played baseball with the captured crew of the German submarine the U-505, which is magnificently displayed in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. The 1944 capture was kept secret because the Allies needed the infamous German Enigma machine and German code books. The capture of the sub was meticulously planned and executed and U.S. Navy sailors risked their lives to prevent the U-boat crew scuttling the sub. To prevent the Germans’ knowing we had their codes, the sub was listed as sunk with all hands.
To make the ruse work, the crew against international conventions to notify nations of POWs, the crew was held on a secret base. To keep them occupied U.S. soldiers with baseball experience were assigned to Play ball with them. Easily thousands of Allied lives were saved by the ruse.
Now here’s the part of the story I relate to: Instead of being sunk for target practice after the war, the sub was donated to Chicago. The sub and the exhibits introducing it are at times gut-wrenching in their poignancy. History buffs and even children love the interactive exhibits.
I highly recommend the U-505 exhibit and reading the book.
I also recommend families tell their stories before time and death remove them from memory.