By Bob Dorrill
On March 19, 2018, in front of a capacity crowd at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant in Houston, author and SABR member Anne Keene of Austin regaled Larry Dierker Chapter members with the story and background on her soon to be released book, The Cloudbuster Nine.
The audience devoured every word as Anne took us back to the 1940s and the days of the “90 Day Wonders,” where American military fighter pilot cadets trained at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to earn their wings on their various ways to soaring as combat participants in World War II.
Anne’s dad, Jim Raugh, had served as the batboy for the 1943 baseball team on the base that had held in its lineup cadets like Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Johnny Sain. The players also took a liking to Jim, who later became a college All American and professional player himself. They took him with them on dozens of trips to entertain factory workers, service members, and even to the big war-bond exhibition with Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium. Raugh was able to observe them closely, collect many photographs and related materials of this important period.
Others who matriculated through the flight school in Chapel Hill included George H. W. Bush, who learned survival skills there that served him well when his plane was later shot down, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, John Glenn and Paul (Bear) Bryant, simply to name a few.
Through a scrapbook her dad left behind, Anne learned much more about a time in her father’s life she was totally unaware of and decided to locate the children of many of the famous aviators to learn their stories. She also interviewed other WWII baseball veterans, like Dr. Bobby Brown and Eddie Robinson, and decided she had to write a book to commemorate the full dedication and determination of these American heroes.
The Cloudbuster Nine will be available in local bookstores on May 1, but this much else we already know from her appearance in Houston last night. Keene’s new book was recently reviewed and credited by Newsday”as one of the best new published baseball books of 2018.
There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. If your appetite for baseball in Houston is also gold-cap deep, you could have burrowed even deeper into the woodwork of total baseball immersion by being at SABR last night.
For further information, check out the recent column by Bill McCurdy at the Pecan Park Eagle: