"Who won the World Series?"
Matt Konop had no idea.
He disliked sports and wasn't amused by the stupid question. In the chaos of his division's retreat, he was in the woods searching for places to store artillery and found himself under suspicion of being a German spy. Konop's odd accent -- a mix of his native Czech and a Wisconsin farmer dialect -- had the checkpoint MPs thinking he was one of the hundreds of German spies that had snuck in the night before wearing American uniforms. When Konop pulled a knife on his interrogators -- a German knife no less -- that settled it, he was German. Off to the stockade!
German spies caught that day in American uniforms were shot, in accordance with the rules of war -- you can’t dress in the other side’s uniform. Seventy-one years ago today, Konop had no idea how close he was to the firing squad. He also didn’t know that the dark humor of his predicament was classic Czech comedy, echoing a scene from “The Good Soldier Svejk,” the most translated novel in Czech literature. In the novel, the main character, Svejk, is an Inspector Clouseau/Mr. Magoo-like Czech soldier who bumbles his way through World War One. Like Konop, Svejk was captured by his own army under suspicion of being the enemy. Matt Konop, who the day before held off a German attack with cooks and drivers, had gotten himself Svejk-ed.
Finally, after a series of record checking, the US Army determined Matt Konop was an American and they let him go. Then at the next checkpoint he was captured all over again. Still speaking in his Czech accent (he didn’t learn English until he was six), still unaware of the new password, still not knowing who won the 1944 World Series (it was the St. Louis Cardinals).