Small World  

Chet Yastrzemski
Co E 272nd Inf Rgt

     After VE Day, my company (Co E, 272nd Inf Rgt) spent about a month in Nessa, Germany.  Nearby in the small farm town of Teuchern was Co F of the 272nd, commanded by Captain Herbert Callaway of Crockett, TX.  Co F had one of the “Fifth Platoons” comprised of African-American soldiers.   

     In an open field in Nessa, a group from Co E engaged this platoon in a softball game.  I was the catcher for Co E and used a fielder's glove instead of a catcher's mitt.  Not having a catcher's mask or chest protector, I took a few shots to the head and body.  Back at Southampton High School in New York state, I played third base and was also team captain and adept at all positions, but this game was my first as a catcher.  Co E's pitcher was S/Sgt John Zines, who hailed from Michigan.  John threw the softball with great speed and accuracy, so we beat Co F’s Fifth Platoon by 5 to 2. 

     Later in August, we were in Bebra, known today as Bebra-Weiterode.  By a Division order, there was a series in the Regiments and other Units finally to determine the 69th Infantry Division’s champion.   Once again, I was catcher for Co E 272.  Stanley Karas, from Michigan, joined our team.  Like Zines, Karas could really “fire” that softball!  After about six games, without a loss in our quest for the championship, we received orders for our Division to return to the States, which ended our softball competition.  I ended my military career with the 296th Military Police Company, 1st Allied Airborne Division in Berlin, Germany. 

     In searching the 69th Infantry Website’s Guest Book, I found John Zines's grandson seeking information about his grandfather.  I sent the grandson a Company E photo from Camp Shelby and told him of my experience catching him in softball games.  It turns out that John Zines is in the Softball Hall of Fame for the State of Michigan.  


     After my discharge in May 1946, I became a member of a semi-pro baseball team known as the White Eagles in Bridgehampton, Long Island, NY.  I played on that team with my three brothers, and eventually we won the Suffolk County Championship.  I pitched.  Two of my brothers caught.  Anthony Pierzynski would later catch.  His grandson, A. J. Pierzynski, born in Bridgehampton, is the well-known catcher for the 2005 World Series winner, the Chicago White Sox! 

     My nephew Carl Yastrzemski, then eight years old, was our batboy for the White Eagles.  Yaz later played Little League, Babe Ruth League and eventually replaced the great Ted Williams in left field for the Boston Red Sox.  Carl Yastrzemski was the only one in the American League to play little league baseball and later be inducted into the baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. 

Small World!