In 1943, while the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals were winning pennants and meeting in that year’s World Series, one of the nation’s strongest baseball teams practiced on a skinned-out college field in the heart of North Carolina.
Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Johnny Sain were among a cadre of fighter-pilot cadets who wore the Cloudbuster Nine baseball jersey at an elite Navy training school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
As a child, Anne Keene’s father, Jim Raugh, suited up as the team batboy and mascot. He got to know his baseball heroes personally, watching players hit the road on cramped, tin-can buses, dazzling factory workers, kids, and service members at dozens of games, including a war-bond exhibition with Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium. Jimmy followed his baseball dreams as a college All-American, but was crushed later in life by a failed major-league bid with the Detroit Tigers.
He would have carried this story to his grave had Anne not discovered his scrapbook from a Navy school that shaped America’s greatest heroes including George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, John Glenn, and Paul “Bear” Bryant.”
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