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  • World War II 1939-1945
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S-064 Dr. W.D Thompson Collection

Dr. W.D Thompson Collection, photo S-064-A(1).01. Sailors play a variety of sports on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, circa World War II. Download image.

Navy Athletics

From “rigging races” of the early 1800s to Captain Carl T. Osburn’s Olympic marksmanship medals to U.S. Naval Academy athletics today, sports have long been a part of Navy life.

Sports in the Navy: 1775 to 1963

In this 1963 All Hands article, JO2 Jim Lewis discusses the history of sports in the Navy through 1963. More than simply fun and games, sports served to boost physical conditioning and morale. In fact, as JO2 Lewis writes, the Navy Department realized by 1921 that “the same ships that habitually won top sports honors usually carried off the prizes in gunnery, engineering and navigation, too.”

Army-Navy Football Game

The first Army-Navy football game was held in 1890 at West Point and resulted in a 24-0 Navy victory. View the scores of previous games, or check out the U.S. Naval Academy’s athletic website for recent updates.

1912 U.S. Olympic Rifle Team

1912 U.S. Olympic Rifle Team. The team won the gold medal in the International Mens Team Rifle Competition (also known as the Military Rifle Competition) at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. Download image (40 KB).

Olympic Achievement

Before Mark Spitz broke the record in 1972, Captain Carl T. Osburn held the record for most medals won by an American in Olympic competition. NHHC holds a collection of his papers as well as some of his Olympic medals and Olympic commemorative items. Learn more about Captain Osburn and the Olympic tradition.

Captain Osburn’s teammates on the U.S. Olympic marksmanship team included Admiral Harris Laning (namesake of Laning [DE-159]) in the 1912 Olympics and Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee in the 1920 Olympics.

Through the years, a number of other Naval Academy graduates have competed in the Olympics. One example is Rear Admiral William J. Galbraith, who won silver in the rope climb in 1932; the Navy Department Library holds a collection of his papers.


Baseball and the U.S. Navy”. Learn about baseball’s role in Navy traditions in this blog post. More than 500 major league players joined the military during World War II, including Yogi Berra, who served in the Navy as a gunner’s mate.

Baseball team from USS Wright (AZ-1)

Lynn McCarthy Collection, UA 559.08. USS Wright (AZ-1) Fleet Baseball Champions 1930–1931. Download image.

Photo #: NH 102847 Chief Specialist Robert William ("Bob") Feller
Chief Specialist Robert William ("Bob") Feller. (NH 102847)

Photo #: NH 58843 Officers' Baseball Team, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
Officers' Baseball Team, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, circa 1895-1896. (NH 58843)

Great Lakes African Americans varsity baseball team, 1944
Great Lakes African Americans varsity baseball team, 1944. (NH 95739)

Ship's baseball team, USS PRUITT (DD-347)
USS Pruitt (DD-347) baseball team, with a Zamboanga High School girls' baseball team, circa the 1920s. (NH 44675)

Official National League Baseball text on baseball
Baseball used in a game between crew members of USS Ashville (PG-21) and a team from the 2nd Fleet. The score of the game is marked on the ball. Asheville 6, 2nd Fleet 7 dated August 20th 1938. Ashville was lost in an enemy action on March 3, 1942.

Japanese POWs playing baseball at a Guam POW stockade, 1945.
Japanese POWs playing baseball at a Guam POW stockade, 1945. (80-G-K-6644)

Additional Resource

Commander Navy Installations Command Fitness, Sports and Deployed Forces Support

Published: Tue Oct 18 15:14:04 EDT 2022