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Babe Reams


Date and Place of Birth: February 6, 1890 Suisin City, CA
Date and Place of Death:    October 31, 1918 Spitaals Bosschen, Belgium
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Infielder
Rank: Private
Military Unit: Machine Gun Company, 363rd Infantry Regiment, 91st Division AEF
Area Served: France

Mannie E. “Babe” Reams, the son of Mannie and Mary Reams, was born in February 6, 1890 in Suisun City, California. His father was a well-known racehorse trainer and young Mannie attended Mount Tamalpais Military Academy in San Rafael, California, where he captained the football team.

In 1909, Reams played third base for the semi-pro Visalia Pirates. “Babe Reams at the third cushion is all to the good,” declared the Visalia Times-Delta on July 6, 1909. “His work is of the highest class at that bag and he bats like a house afire. Babe is just a big bit better than the rest of the third sackers in these parts.”

In September 1909, Reams entered Santa Clara College, where he participated in baseball, captained the football team and ran track. “He is a fast man over the high hurdles,” said the San Francisco Chronicle. “Holds the college record in the broad jump, and rugby experts speak of him as the best place kicker on the Pacific Coast.”

In February 1910, Reams left the college to sign with the Boston Red Sox and was assigned to the Sacramento Senators of the Pacific Coast League. Unfortunately, he was unwell during the early part of the year and this hindered his performance on the diamond. After batting .130 in 11 games he was released on May 22. Two weeks later he was in hospital in Los Angeles.

In December 1910, Reams signed with the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League for the 1911 season. During the winter months of 1910/1911, he played for Oxnard and learned to hit left-handed. Great things were expected of the youngster with the Tigers, but on April 15 he was handed his release. Reams picked up with the Newark Tigers of the Class A Eastern League on the other side of the country in mid-May, where he played shortstop in 49 games and batted .171.

Reams played winter ball in Oxnard in late 1911 and signed again with the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League in January 1912. However, on April 2, with the Tigers having an abundance of infielders, he was purchased by the Coast League Los Angeles Angels. The 22-year-old got off to a good start but after a hitting slump and the purchase by the Angels of future big-leaguer Joe Berger, he was released on April 19. Shortly afterwards, Reams was picked up by the Aberdeen Black Cats of the Class D Washington State League. After playing most of the summer in Aberdeen, the infielder was on the move again, this time to the Boise Irrigators of the Class D Western Tri-State League, where he finished the season.

After playing winter ball again in Oxnard, Reams was back with Boise for 1913, where he played 116 games and batted a respectable .285. In March 1914, Reams was sold to the Portland Colts of the Class B Northwestern League, but after playing 10 games and batting just .120 he was released in early May. He was picked up by the Calgary Bronchos of the Class D Western Canada League, where, playing third base and shortstop, he hit .266 in 113 games.

Tough luck caught up with Reams in 1915. The Western Canada League folded before the season started and the 25-year-old was without a team. He unsuccessfully tried to hook up with the Portland club and signed, instead, with the semi-pro Petaluma Leghorns only to be released in mid-June.

Baseball took a backseat in 1916 as Reams married Dorothy Brush of Santa Rosa. He and Dorothy operated a farm in Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley, but as late as spring 1917, Reams was still trying to make his mark in professional baseball and had an unsuccessful tryout with the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland club.

On April 6, 1917, the United States joined its allies - Britain, France, and Russia - to fight in World War I against Germany. Twenty-seven-year-old Reams registered for the draft in June 1917. He was assigned to the 363rd Infantry Regiment of the 91st Division at Camp Lewis, Washington, and starred on the infantry ball team during the early summer of 1918. In late June of that year, the 91st Division embarked on a six-day journey across the country to Camp Merritt, New Jersey. In July they departed for Europe.

The Division proceeded to France in July and into combat against German forces. There, Private Reams fought with a machine gun company in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, where he was slightly wounded in the arm. For three days, he was reported as “Missing in Action” but was later found hiding in a former German dugout in “No Man’s Land” with several other wounded soldiers. No Man’s Land was the unoccupied, contested area between opposing frontline trenches occupied by the Allied forces, and the Germans. After being rescued, Reams rejoined his unit which was moved to Ypres, Belgium.

Confiding in a fellow soldier, he said, “I know the next time I go up that I’m going to be killed.” The following day, on October 31, 1918, Private Reams was part of an assault on German positions at Spitaals Bosschen in the Ypres-Lys campaign. He was killed in action. Eleven days later the war ended.

Babe Reams’ body was originally laid to rest in Belgium, but in April 1922 he was relocated to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

American Legion Post 182 in Suisan City is named after him.

Babe Reams

Babe Reams

Babe Reams

Babe Reams

Babe Reams

Babe Reams

Babe Reams Sacramento Solons 1910
Babe Reams with the 1910 Sacramento Solons. Reams is back row, third from right

Private Mannie E. "Babe" Reams - 363d Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division

Mannie E. "Babe" Reams

Date Added May 10, 2020


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