"Two months after this celebratory photograph was taken, on February 15, 1898, all but one of these men died when the Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor, killing 260 of the ship's crew and sparking the Spanish-American War. Other than the goat, which was left behind in Key West when the ship was ordered to Cuba, the lone survivor was John Bloomer (upper left). Only minutes before this devastating--and still mysterious--explosion, C.H. Newton (middle row, second from left) had sounded taps for the crew at the usual time of 9:10 p.m." Kind of brings history alive, doesn't it? This is just one morsel from a fabulous collection of Early Baseball Pictures at the Library of Congress. (Via plep.)
The Maine Base Ball Club. "The team had just won the Navy baseball championship held in Key West, Florida, in December 1897, beating a team from the cruiser USS Marblehead eighteen to three. The Maine's star was a black pitcher named William Lambert (upper right), and engine stoker from Hampton, Virginia, who was described by one shipmate as 'a master of speed, curves, and control.'