The U.S.S. Maine Baseball Team
After winning the navy baseball championship in Key West, Florida, where they defeated the USS Marblehead 18-3 in December 1897, the USS Maine team posed for a photograph with their managers and mascot. Pitcher William Lambert (standing, far right), a fireman from Hampton, Virginia, was their star player and one of thirty black crewmen aboard the Maine. In January 1898, the battleship sailed to Havana Harbor, Cuba, where civil unrest was threatening Spanish rule.
One the night of February 15, the ship's forward magazines mysteriously exploded, killing more than 260 men. Landsman John H. Bloomer (standing, far left) was the only player on the team to survive the disaster. Reports that a mine in Havana Harbor destroyed the ship prompted the rallying cry "Remember the Maine!" and in April, the United States declared war on Spain in support of Cuban independence.