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L.A. Wattelet


Date and Place of Birth: November 21, 1886 France
Date and Place of Death:    October 31, 1918 Belgium
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Unknown
Rank: Captain
Military Unit: Company A, 364th Infantry Regiment, 91st Division US Army
Area Served: France and Belgium

Leonard A. “L.A.” Wattelet, son of Louis and Louisa Wattelet, was born on November 21, 1886, in France. By 1900, the family was living in Boulder, Colorado, where Louis Wattelet worked as a coal miner. In 1906, 19-year-old Wattelet played in two late-season games for the Seattle Siwashes of the Class A Pacific Coast League. He was hitless in five at-bats and although that marked the conclusion of his playing days in professional baseball, his affiliation with the minors was far from over.

After having worked himself as a coal minor in Colorado, Wattelet joined the newly-formed Victoria Bees (British Columbia) of the Class B Northwestern League in 1911, serving as business manager, secretary and treasurer. He became president of the club in December 1912, following the retirement of local entrepreneur Joshua Kingham.

Wattelet, who married Florence Handley of Victoria, on June 4, 1913, remained with the Victoria club through 1915, the team’s last season in pro ball. He later entered military service with the US Army, earned a commission as a captain at the first officer’s training school, and was placed in charge of baseball operations at Camp Lewis at American Lake, near Tacoma, Washington, where 40,000 servicemen were stationed. As general manager of the Camp Lewis team, Wattelet had an abundance of professional baseball talent to choose from. He selected Charlie Mullen (Yankees first baseman) as field manager and players included Jim Scott (White Sox pitcher), Red Oldham (Tigers pitcher), Charlie Schmutz (Brooklyn pitcher), Walter Mails (Brooklyn pitcher), Harry Kingman (Yankees first baseman), Lou Guisto (Indians first baseman), Hap Myers (Brooklyn first baseman) and Pacific Coast Leaguer Howard Mundorff.

As the war progressed every soldier was needed at the frontline and Captain Wattelet went to Europe with Company A of the 364th Infantry Regiment, 91st Division. On October 31, 1918, L.A. Wattelet was killed in action in Belgium, aged 31.

He is buried at Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem, Belgium. Wattelet's grave has been "adopted" by the mayor of Waregem, Kurt Vanryckeghem.

LA Wattelet

Wattelet (front row, second left) is pictured at Camp Lewis in March 1918, alongside seven other prominent sports stars who were also at Camp Lewis. They are (back row, left to right): L.E. Ireland (wrestling), T.G. Cook (director of athletics at Camp Lewis), Willie Ritchie (boxing) and Eddie Keinholz (baseball, football, track and basketball at State College of Washington). Front row: W.L. Stanton (football coach), Wattelet, Father J. Glavin (soccer star at Dublin University) and Robert I. Simpson (track).

Leonard Wattelet Grave

Leonard A. Wattelet's grave at at Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem, Belgium

Seattle Times, August 28, 1906
Sunday Oregonian, January 29, 1911
Medicine Hat Daily News, December 23, 1911
Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 19, 1912
Oakland Tribune, June 5, 1913
Oregonian, April 2, 1914
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, February 7, 1918
Bakersfield Morning Echo, March 13, 1918
Medicine Hat Daily News, December 10, 1918

Thanks to Mayor Vanryckeghem for help with this biography. Thanks also to Astrid van Erp, for help with photos for this biography.

Date Added September 9, 2013 Updated July 30, 2017

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