Baseball During War
"..It's our game; that's the chief fact in connection with it; America's game; has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere; it belongs as much to our own institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitution's laws; is just as important in the sum total of our historic life," this is said by Walt Whitman.
At one point, baseball reigned supreme as America’s National pastime. Just 50 Years ago, the baseball world looked forward to the all New York World Series. Whether it was the Giants against the Dodgers, or the Dodgers vs. the Yankees, either way, baseball is what the public loved and followed all season long. During this time, America was often centered on baseball. On what team won what game, did the Yankees beat their rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers or did the New York Giants lose to the Chicago Cubs? Baseball has always been known as “America’s National Pastime,” and if one were to say that baseball is no longer the above anymore, then I would challenge them with the following information:
Many had claimed that when was on his deathbed, he told (the supposed inventor of Baseball, Abner Doubleday "don't let baseball die!" Lincoln also had a baseball field constructed behind the White House for baseball games, it was called the 'White Lot's
Although for a little while it was speculated that fans would loose interest in the game, as a result of the 1919 “Black Sox Scandal.” (The Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series.) However, that is when George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. came into the game. Not only was Ruth a sensational pitcher, he was also a tremendous batsman. His great pitching ability has seemed to become “lost in the shuffle,” off all the other records he holds, but he was a superb pitcher. Many say that Ruth “saved” baseball.
In the 1920’s with Ruth knocking homeruns out of the ball parks on a nearly daily basis, fans flocked to see him, and despite the depression, Yankee Stadium, and any other stadium he played at was usually sold out.
In the wake of WWII what has become known as the “Green Light” Letter was written by then president FDR, here is some of the contents of the letter that helps to prove that baseball really is America’s National Pastime.
“I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.
And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.
Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost. And, incidentally, I hope that night games can be extended because it gives an opportunity to the day shift to see a game occasionally.
Here is another way of looking at it - if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of the fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”
The President of the United States, the most powerful man in America, who had a World War to deal with, took it upon himself to write to the Commissioner of baseball and express his views. Roosevelt’s views were agreed upon, and baseball continued to be played through out WWII.
In 1947, Jack Robinson broke into the major leagues and had a significant impact on baseball. Robinson broke the baseball racial color barrier. Although Robinson was tormented both on and off the field, he never reduced himself to the crowd’s (and the rest of society’s level, but heckling back.)
On September 11, 2001, before the tragedy of the world trade center, baseball fans were continuing to wonder if San Francisco Giants Outfielder Barry Bonds would break 60 Homeruns. But then, at 8:42 AM, baseball didn’t seem to matter anymore. Sure, it was still “America’s National Pastime,” and it was still “important,” but not at all as crucial as what had just occurred. Even with the tragic events that have occurred, baseball still remains as a “comfort” to us. As Whitman said, "...it's our game…America’s Game.”