In 1944 Merseyside was playing hosted to one of the greatest movements of people in world history as hundreds of thousands of American soldier poured across the Atlantic in preparation for the D Day landings. With so many Americans in the area the people of Merseyside want all things American and that included sport.

By April of that year the Merseyside National Baseball League was formed with seven local teams competing. Baseball was not new to Merseyside though, as in the 1930s the game became fairly popular with the top local side being the Liverpool Giants. Dixie Dean was very keen on the sport playing for Caledonians and even met Babe Ruth in 1934.

With the formation of the new baseball league Mr R S Trueman from Tranmere Rovers saw an opportunity for using Prenton Park in the slow summer months. The Club put two teams into the Merseyside League Tranmere Rovers Baseball Team and the Birkenhead Baseball Team, both of whom would play their home games at Prenton Park.

By mid May the first game of the season was drawing close and Tranmere prepared for the coming season. One of the first additions was to the ground as a Loud Speaker was installed to allow a running commentary to be given of the game. The pitch at Prenton Park was also altered so as to accommodate a baseball field.

The investment didn’t stop with the ground as the club looked to build a strong team with plenty of experience. The first key signing for the Tranmere Rovers Baseball team was Colin Grove who according to the Birkenhead News had played in the American Leagues and was international player.

Tranmere’s opening game was against Roote at Prenton Park which Rovers won 18-7 in front of a modest crowd. The gate receipts for the game were £12 2s 10d which Mr R S Trueman of Tranmere Rovers expected to rise as the sport increased in popularity. Luckily for the club it was far cheaper to put a baseball game on than a Football match.

The next test for Tranmere was against their very local rival Birkenhead who they shared Prenton Park with. The Rovers team had been strengthen after the Roote victory to include Cecil Rutherford whose addition saw Tranmere beat Birkenhead 14-9. Although the teams played well according to the Birkenhead News both teams still needed more experienced players.

Trueman was aware of this and made probably the best signing of the entire league in A C Haley, a pitcher who it was claimed could pitch at over 90 mph. Haley was a Canadian who had played in the American Leagues before moving to Liverpool and playing for the Giants. When war broke out he joined the RAF.

Haley’s impact was seen instantly in his first game for Tranmere against Fazakerly at the end of May. By the Fourth inning Tranmere were down 6-4 when Haley came on to pitch he took thirteen strike outs. Tranmere won 15-6 and the league already seemed to be in the bag for Rovers especially with the signing of Haley’s old Giants team mate Jackie Ritchie on second base.

However although Tranmere had made these great players one factor meant they never quite reached their full potential….the War. Grove, Haley and Ritchie were all involved in the war effort and so couldn’t play ever game. By June this problem saw Tranmere lose to Caledonians and later were hammered 25-3 by Everton.

But Tranmere could still turn heads as one report stated ‘When at full strength, they are considered as one of the best teams in England.’ However being one of the best teams in the country saw the likes of Grove and Haley being called up for international games which in turn meant they missed more Tranmere games.

By July other teams had invested in their squads and Tranmere lost the edge they had had at the start of the season.

Tranmere Rovers Footballer and Manager Bill Ridding started playing for Birkenhead and made an instant impact on their performance.

Ridding impact led the Birkenhead press to ask why more footballer weren’t asked to play for one of the baseball teams. The star player and coach of Tranmere Baseball Team Grove told the press ‘…footballers have not only been invited, but have been asked through the management of Tranmere Rovers to join one of the teams…but the request has not been complied with.’

With the season coming to an end Tranmere still put out good performances but as other teams continued to improve Tranmere struggled to get the wins.

By mid August talk of the new football season was creeping back into the press and interest in baseball disappeared. Tranmere may not have won the league but for a few brief months Prenton Park was a bastion of Baseball and Tranmere one of the best teams in the country.

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