Slabsters and Doughboys

I have posted a few photos of my grandfather already, but it’s time for another one.  One of the previous ones was a photo of him in his World War I uniform and another one was in a baseball uniform.  This time it is a combination of the two.  I loved this old photo when I first saw it.  My cousin Tricia texted me a photo that she took of a few old photos that she had found.  This one came out pretty good, but I’m sure that a good scan will be an improvement.  It looks like we’ll have to wait on that for a while, though.

In the meantime we have this version of the jewel from the past.  And this time I have an improved date on the photo.  When I posted the previous WWI photo, I put an estimated date of 1915 on it.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention or maybe I just acquired new information in the meantime, but I have information proving that 1915 date wrong.  His draft registration card for World War I was dated June 5, 1917, so the photo is from after that date.  We’ll just say that it is from 1919, unless there is later information proving it wrong.  (Update:  This date has been changed because of later information obtained.)  Maybe there’s something written on the back of the actual photo!?

1919 – Front and center is my grandfather Robert Joseph Landry, a lieutenant in World War I

Anyway, Robert Joseph Landry (later to be a Sr.) was 24 years old when he registered for the draft.  He had already been playing baseball, as evidenced by the back of another photo I posted of him with a baseball team in 1915.  I’ve also read an article about how he was a pitcher for the semi-pro baseball league – or the Sawdust Baseball Circuit.  In fact, he was “quite a slabster” in his day.  That was just one of the many terms for pitcher from 100 years ago.  So when he served his country in the military, it was only natural for him to be a part of the team there as well.

They needed some distraction and recreation after all.  Though I don’t think that he went overseas during his stint in the Great War, he may still be considered a doughboy.  That was a term for those serving in the military during WWI.  A slabster and a doughboy – that’s my grandfather.  He is shown front and center in this photo.  They were careful about how they set up this photo with the bats and gloves arranged just right.  So with him being shown prominently, it looks to me like he was a driving force for this endeavor.  Or so I like to think.  Whatever the situation, it’s a nice glimpse into the past of the grandfather I never really knew.


  • In this picture, he has Corporal stripes on his sleeve. You mentioned the date on the draft card. He possibly enlisted prior to that and possibly completed a draft card at a later date, which many did if they enlisted, did their hitch, was discharged and then re-entered the service.

  • Baseball fanciers will find this photo fascinating. Part of baseball history that most of us don’t know.

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