A few years ago I identified three Negro league players who died in connection with their military service during World War I. Two of them—Pearl Webster and Norman Triplett—died of disease in France. A third, Ted Kimbro, never went to France. Here’s what James Riley wrote about him in The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (p. 462):
“Inducted into service during World War I, he played on the Camp Dix baseball team before receiving his Army discharge. Tragically, soon afterward his career was prematurely ended in 1918 when he died from influenza contracted while in the service.”
As it turns out, the 22-year-old Kimbro died while still in the service, on September 29, 1918, at Camp Dix, New Jersey. Here’s an abstract of his military service record, which says he served from July 18, 1918, until his death:
The cause of Kimbro's death was bronchial pneumonia, almost certainly a consequence of influenza. It occurred right at the height of the great influenza pandemic of 1918. The U. S. mobilization for war served as one of the main avenues for the spread of the virus, and Camp Dix was hit hard in September and October, as nearly 8000 soldiers came down with the disease, and 774 died. The whole huge training camp was quarantined on September 23, just a week before Kimbro passed away.
Pearl Webster was Kimbro’s teammate during the 1918 season on the Grand Central Terminal Red Caps and the Hilldale Club. They were both inducted into the Army as draftees on July 18 and assigned to the same training unit, the 153rd Depot Brigade. Even after this Kimbro and Webster still able to appear occasionally in games as late as September—they last appeared together for Hilldale on August 8 vs. the Chicago American Giants at Hilldale Park. Kimbro’s final known Negro league appearance was in a doubleheader for the Lincoln Giants against the Brooklyn Royal Giants at Harlem’s Olympic Field on September 1, 1918. Four weeks later he was dead.
So Kimbro , Webster, and Triplett are the only Negro league-related figures known to have died while in the service during World War I, and Kimbro and Webster are the only ones known to have died from the flu pandemic (though I'd guess Triplett probably died from the flu as well).
Pearl Webster, Ted Kimbro, Norman Triplett