By this time two years from now, Jim Leeke and Jane Clark hope to be returning to their Northwest Side home from England, having "root, root, rooted" for the home team.

By this time two years from now, Jim Leeke and Jane Clark hope to be returning to their Northwest Side home from England, having "root, root, rooted" for the home team.

The Columbus couple co-founded the Anglo-American Baseball Project, a nonprofit entity with one goal in mind and now less than 24 months to pull it off.

"The mission of the Anglo-American Baseball Project is to recreate the historic military baseball game cheered by King George V at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea, during World War I," their website states. "We plan to present the new game somewhere in England exactly 100 years later, on the Fourth of July, 2018."

Leeke, creative director of the Columbus-based marketing and advertising firm Taillight Communications LCC, is the author and editor of several books, including "Nine Innings for the King: The Day Wartime London Stopped for Baseball, July 4, 1918."

The game, in Leeke's opinion, was a significant moment in history, not just for the sport to which he is devoted, but also to the occasionally frosty relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

"We had been in World War II for more than a year at that point, but most of our troops hadn't arrived," Leeke said. "The British weren't quite sure of us as allies."

The game was played between teams made up of U.S. soldiers and sailors, four of them major leaguers, before anywhere between 18,000 and 70,000 spectators, some of them doubtless bewildered by the rules.

"The attendance figures are all over the map," Leeke said about the game.

"The newspapers went out of their way to explain the game to Londoners, which was no easy thing. It became a big deal, a big international deal.

"The Navy won in a really terrific game which wasn't decided, literally, until the last out."

That moment in history Leeke and his wife hope to commemorate in 2018 might have remained an obscure one but for a chance encounter in an antique mall in Cheat Lake, W.Va.

Clark and Leeke were living there five or six years ago when they found compiled copies of "Stars and Stripes," the military newspaper.

In one edition, Leeke came across a story from a "Stars and Stripes" correspondent in Paris mentioning that King George V would be attending the baseball game in London a month later.

That led to further research which led to a blog which eventually led to the book which led to the couple launching the Anglo-American Baseball Project.

The endeavor has the blessing, but not the backing, of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"The Hall of Fame is not involved in this project, but we wish Jim the best of luck as he takes the National Pastime around the world," Craig Muder, the Hall of Fame's director of communications wrote in an email.

Sheldon "Shelly" Berman, founder of what is today SBC Advertising, played a role in pushing Clark and Leeke to go ahead with efforts to stage the game. Leeke said they shared the idea with Berman, a longtime family friend, during dinner a year ago.

"You have to run with it," Leeke said Berman told them.

"I think there is so much geopolitical significance to this game, particularly right now with Brexit," Berman said last week from Phoenix.

"It's kind of reflective of where the world stood 100 years ago," berman said.

"When the game was played it was so much more than a close game. It cemented relations between the United States and England in a major way."

Clark, who is less of a baseball fan than her husband ("Don't get her started on her Buckeyes," Leeke advised), said her early estimates of what it might cost to put on the game hover around $2 million, but many factors will come into play.

"As far as fundraising, the sky's the limit," Clark said. "We certainly want to raise as much as we can."

The couple hope to choose some veterans organizations, both in this country and England, to benefit from any proceeds that might be produced by the game, which Leeke feels certain will take place.

"I tell people that I'm totally convinced we're going to play the game," he said. "What I don't know is the scope. I know where. I just don't know when yet."

He holds out hope of having a royal or two there when it happens, wherever that is. "If the Army can figure out how to invite George V, we can figure out how to invite Prince Harry," Leeke said.

More information is available at aabaseball.org.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1