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Timeline of American and National League Baseball for the Year In Review section. Project expanded to include the National League (1900-1876), Federal League (1915-1914), Players League (1890), Union Association (1884) and American Association (1891-1882).

MLB Timeline by Michael Aubrecht
Written for's Year In Review section.
Sources: Baseball-Almanac, The Baseball Timeline, The Baseball Library, The Baseball Chronicle,,

Off the field…

On April 4th, foreign ministers from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States formally signed the North Atlantic Treaty to create a worldwide coalition known as NATO. The alliance became necessary between nations of Western Europe and the United States to help deter the Soviet Union from further aggressive posturing. Article 5 of the treaty stated that an attack against one member of the coalition would be considered an attack against them all.

The American monopoly on the development of nuclear weapons ended on September 23rd after President Truman announced that the Soviet Union had successfully detonated their first atomic bomb. The "Us" vs. "Them" mentally that followed touched off a nuclear arms race that would last into the 1990's.

In the American League…

During pre-game ceremonies at the New York Yankees season opener, a monument to Babe Ruth was unveiled in center field along with 2 plaques honoring Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins. All three would become centerpieces in the infamous Monument Park that now adorns the outfield area at Yankee Stadium.

On May 1st, Elmer Valo of the Philadelphia Athletics became the first American League player to post two bases-loaded triples in a single game during a 15-9 win over the Washington Senators. Later in the season, Valo hit a third, tying the major league record previously set by Shano Collins in 1918.

A pharmacist from Cleveland named Charley Lupica climbed a 20-foot platform atop a flagpole on May 31st and announced that he would remain perched there until the Indians won another pennant. Unfortunately, the 7th-place Tribe was only able to manage 4th place by the time Lupica descended on September 25, but owner Bill Veeck still rewarded the loyal druggist with a brand new car.

In the National League…

A riot literally broke out in the Philadelphia Phillies stands on August 21st after fans threw bottles in protest of umpire George Barr's call over a trapped fly ball. The unruly crowd's behavior resulted in the first forfeiture in the major-league in seven years. Ironically it was the visiting New York Giants who themselves, had been forced into the same situation in 1942, after their field was rushed by hundreds of youngsters.

On September 15th, Pittsburgh pitcher Ernie Bonham died following an emergency appendectomy and stomach surgery. His untimely death shocked the Pirates organization as Bonham had just pitched 18 days before with a clutch, 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Mrs. Bonham later became the first spouse to receive benefits under the major league players' pension plan, which provided the widow with a check for $90 a month over the next 10 years.

Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson continued to break barriers after setting a major league record for stealing home (13 total over a 3-year period) after thieving his 5th of the season during a 5-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. Robinson topped Ben Chapman who took 11 seasons to steal 15.

Around the league…

"Joltin" Joe DiMaggio signed with the New York Yankees for a reported sum of $100,000. It was the first six-figure contract in the history of major league baseball.

The 1949 All-Star Game at Ebbets Field marked the first appearance of black players including Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Larry Doby. In the end, it was the American League who capitalized on five National League errors for an 11-7 triumph.

The 1940s ended as the only decade in major league baseball history not to debut a new ballpark. The last new diamond had been the Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, which opened in 1932, and the following did not occur until 1953 when Milwaukee's County Stadium was unveiled.

In addition, the 1940s also ended with eight African-Americans on major league rosters: three each on the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Indians, and two with the New York Giants. Although it will be another decade before all teams would be fully integrated, most went on to sign players from the Negro Leagues over the next two years.

Off the field…

After supporting the idea of a Jewish independent state, the United States officially recognized Israel, as it's own entity. President Truman made a formal announcement 14 minutes after the state had been declared in Tel Aviv. Shortly after, the surrounding Arab States attacked Israel sparking off a religious conflict that has lasted to this day.

Edwin Herbert, an American physicist and inventor, debuted the first instant camera that developed it's own photos on the spot. While a freshman at Harvard University in 1926, Herbert had become interested in polarized light (light oriented in a plane with respect to the source). After taking a leave of absence from the university, he spent several years developing a new kind of photographic technology that later evolved into the Polaroid Camera.

In the American League…

On March 29th in St. Petersburg Florida, the New York Yankees and rival Boston Red Sox went head-to-head for 17 grueling innings only to have the contest called at a 2-2 tie after four hours and two minutes of play. It was the longest Spring Training game in major league history.

The Cleveland Indians were accused of pulling a publicity stunt after signing the Negro League's greatest pitcher Satchel Paige to a major league contract. The 42 year-old veteran answered all of his critics after going on to post a 6-1 record as the oldest player ever to debut in the majors.

Chicago outfielder Pat Seerey hit four home runs (the last in the 11th inning) to lead the White Sox to a 12-11 victory over the home team Athletics in Philadelphia. In doing so, he became only the 5th player ever to accomplish the feat. Seerey had also set the record for reaching 15 or more total bases in a single game (1945) and would later set the major league mark as the first player to strike out seven times in a doubleheader.

In the National League…

Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals put on a hitting clinic at Crosley Field during an April 30th outing against the Cincinnati Reds. "Stan The Man" totaled 5 hits in the first of four such performances during the season. Only Ty Cobb and Willie Keeler had accomplished the same feat while going 5+ at the plate on four separate occasions.

Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates startled pitchers across the league after hitting a home run every single Sunday for eight successive weeks in May and June. By the end of the season, he tallied 17 round trippers over 38 Sunday outings.

At the end of the year, the Brooklyn Dodgers traded the extremely talented, but even more accident prone Pete Reiser to the Boston Braves for Mike McCormick. Reiser had become one of the top outfielders of his time, but had damaged his reputation after being carried off the field on a stretcher 11 times throughout the season after crashing into the outfield walls.

Around the league…

Major League Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler fined the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies $500 each after it was discovered that they were attempting to sign high school players for the upcoming season.

Herb Pennock, the fifty-three-year-old general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies collapsed in a New York hotel lobby on January 30th and died a short time later at a local hospital. Ironically, one month later, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after receiving 94 of the required 91 votes.

The New York Yankees retired Babe Ruth's No. 3 jersey on June 13th during a special pre-game ceremony that marked "The Bambino's" final appearance at Yankee Stadium, which was celebrating it's 25th anniversary. A perennial pinstripe legend, Ruth's astounding abilities at the plate and larger-than-life personality off the field had made him a tremendous drawing card throughout the league as well as the highest-paid player of his era.

On August 16th, baseball lost its greatest player after Babe Ruth succumbed to throat cancer at the age of 53. Fittingly, his last public appearance had come three weeks earlier at the premier of a movie about his amazing life titled "The Babe Ruth Story". As an unprecedented tribute, his body lay in state at Yankee Stadium, also known as "The House That Ruth Built", and was viewed by more than 100,000 fans that lined up for miles just to pay their respects.

Off the field…

Captain Chuck Yaeger, an American test pilot, became the first to break the sound barrier after he accelerated his X-1 test plane to 670 miles per hour, at an altitude of 42,000 feet. The specially designed aircraft was dropped from a modified B-29 bomber leftover from World War II.

Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the goals of his Economic Recovery Plan, otherwise known as "The Marshall Plan" which stated that "the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world". The idea of providing aid in the reconstruction of war torn nations provided markets for American goods, created reliable trading partners, and supported the development of stable democratic governments in Western Europe. Congress's approval of the Marshall Plan signaled an extension of the bipartisanship of World War II into the postwar years.

In the American League…

Philadelphia Athletics catcher Buddy Rosar finally dropped a pop-up on May 20th for his first recorded error in 147 games and 756 chances. New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra went on to extend the major league record to 148 and 950 from 1957 to 1959, but Rosar's single-season record of 115 games and 605 errorless chances stood unchallenged for fifty years until Charles Johnson of the Florida Marlins topped it in 1997.

Larry Doby became the first African-American to play in the American League after appearing as a pinch-hitter for the Cleveland Indians on July 5th during a 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The following day he started at first base and went 1-for-5 at the plate.

On August 13th, Willard Brown of the St. Louis Browns became the first African-American player to homer in the American League after hitting a pinch inside-the-park home run for a 6-5 victory over pitcher Hal Newhouser and the Detroit Tigers.

In the National League…

On April 17th, the Brooklyn Dodgers topped the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field 12-6, as baseball's first African-American player; Jackie Robinson tallied his first major league hit (a bunt single). Robinson would go on to perfect the "squeeze play" while bunting 42 times throughout the season.

Johnny Mize of the New York Giants set a major league record after hitting three successive home runs (for the fifth time in his career) during a 14-5 loss to the Boston Braves. Mize would later go on to add a sixth, 3-homer performance while playing with the New York Yankees in 1950.

After several St. Louis Cardinal players were rumored to initiate a strike as a sign of protest against playing with Jackie Robinson, National League President Ford Frick and team owner Sam Breadon both announced that any player directly involved in any acts of racial prejudice or disobedience would be suspended indefinitely. Cardinal manager Eddie Dyer wholeheartedly denied the allegations and his "Redbirds" went on to play (and beat) the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-1.

Around the league…

Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler announced the development of the first official pension plan for major leaguers. The plan stated that any player with five years experience would receive a check for $50 a month at age 50, and $10 a month over the next five years. The pension fund was initially set up for $650,000, with teams providing 80% and the players investing the remaining 20%.

April 27th was declared as "Babe Ruth Day" at all major league ballparks. During a special pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium, a frail looking Ruth, who was battling the effects of throat cancer, struggled through a short speech thanking the fans for their continued support. The emotional program was broadcast nationwide on television, radio and over the loudspeakers at every stadium as "The Bambino" was presented with a bronze plaque with his likeness from the American League and a leather-bound book with signatures of every player from the National League.

Tragedy struck the minor league system as standout Jimmy Davis (Longhorn League) died after being hit in the head with a pitched ball. The promising 20-year old outfielder was hitting .333 at the time and had tallied 19 homeruns in 48 games. 

New York Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio was named the American League's MVP by a single point over the Boston Red Sox' Ted Williams. Williams, the Triple Crown winner, received 201 points, but was completely left off one writer's ballot igniting a major controversy. It was later determined that a single, 10th-place vote (or better) would have granted him the 2 points that were necessary to top DiMaggio.

Off the field…

John William Mauchly designed the first all-electronic computer for the U.S. Department of Army Ordnance to help compute ballistic firing tables. The revolutionary device, called the ENIAC, weighed 30 tons and consisted of thirty separate units that were cooled by a crude, forced-air system. The all "digital" computer operated on 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors that consumed almost 200 kilowatts of electrical power.

Dr. Benjamin Spock published his first book "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" with a dramatic contrast to earlier child-care guides that favored rigid schedules and warned against showing a child too much affection. Dr. Spock's book was reassuring in its support of maternal tenderness and went on to sell 25,000,000 copies while revolutionizing parenting in the United States and abroad.

In the American League…

The New York Yankees became the first major league baseball team to fly on a regular basis after leasing a United Airlines plane nicknamed the "Yankee Mainliner". Despite the convenience of a shortened travel schedule, four players, including Red Ruffing, still elected to take the train.

Boston Red Sox second baseman Johnny Pesky became the first American League player to single-handedly score six runs in a game during a 14-10 triumph over the Chicago White Sox on May 8th for their 13th straight victory. Boston extended its streak to 15 games before losing to their rivals, the New York Yankees, on May 11th.

The American League All-Stars embarrassed the National's representatives with a 12-0 triumph at Fenway Park. Despite the lop-sided finale, this particular Midsummer Classic remained special, as the '45 event had been cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions. Many players later stated that they had never seen a more festive occasion and many of them had not seen their major league rivals in several years. "Home field" slugger Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox led the charge with two home runs, two singles, a walk, 4 runs scored and 4 RBIs.

In the National League…

On March 17th, the Brooklyn Dodgers played an exhibition game in Daytona Beach against their own minor-league farm team, the Montreal Royals. With Jackie Robinson in the line-up, it marked the first appearance of an integrated baseball team during the 20th century. As a fitting tribute, the field was later renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in honor of the man who broke through baseball's color barrier.

On May 20th, Chicago Cubs ace Claude Passeau made his first error since 1941 to end an all-time pitcher's fielding streak of 273 consecutive errorless chances. Passeau was noted for playing with a special modified glove due to a deformed left hand that was disfigured by a childhood shooting accident.

The Pittsburgh Pirates voted 20-16 in favor of a walkout (prior to a game against the New York Giants) in order to gain recognition of the American Baseball Guild. According to league policy however, a two-thirds majority vote was required to "legally" initiate a strike. Despite being unsuccessful, the players had made a statement in direct support of the newly established coalition that had yet to be acknowledged by the league. As a prelude to the Players Association, the guild had proposed the increase of the leagues' minimum salary to $7,500 as well as a formal arbitration policy for all future salary disputes.

Around the league…

The Chicago White Sox became the first major league team to provide an official Media Guide for the baseball writers. The 17-page publication had been developed by Marsh Samuel and listed individual player and team information as well as limited statistical data. Bill Veeck was so impressed by the concept; he hired Samuel himself to develop a similar guide for the Cleveland Indians.

The Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Athletics and Phillies all refused to raise their standard ticket fare while the rest of the league upped their costs considerably with $2.50 for boxes, $1.25 for general admission and .60 cents for outfield bleachers.

Fortune magazine published a study into the finances of major league baseball that included a detailed report on the New York Yankees franchise. As a sign of things to come, the Bronx Bombers posted league high revenues of $306,000 that were cut to $201,000 following minor league losses. Of their overall gross income, $896,000 came from home ticket sales. Despite playing poorly, the Yanks completed their home season with a record attendance of 2,309,029. The best previous draw was credited to the Chicago Cubs who boasted 1,485,166 fans in 1929.

On Friday, August 9th, all games (4 each for both the American and National Leagues) were played at night for the first time in major-league history.

Off the field…

After several days of street-to-street combat in Berlin and the suicide of Nazi leader Adolph Hitler, Germany finally agreed to an unconditional surrender marking the end of the European campaign of World War II. The conflict lasted five years, eight months, and six days, and cost millions of lives, including six million Jews and 20 million soldiers and civilians killed in the USSR alone.

In an effort to hasten the Pacific campaign, the United States Air Force dropped the world's first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, destroying the entire city and killing over 70,000 people. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki with similar results. Realizing that further resistance was futile, the Japanese government finally agreed to terms of surrender aboard the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Harbor marking the absolute end of WWII.

In the American League…

Pete Gray of the St. Louis Browns became the first "physically challenged" major league ballplayer. Despite the loss of his right arm in a childhood accident, Gray had learned to field, throw and bat solely with his left. He quickly built a reputation for hitting clutch, line drives around the field and also exhibited fearless speed and daring on the base paths. As a testament to overcoming adversity, his fielding technique was a study in both agility and dexterity. After catching a fly ball, the outfielder would tuck his thinly padded glove under his stump; roll the ball across his chest, and throw it to the cut-off man in one fluid motion.

Red Sox rookie Boo Ferriss set an American League record after pitching 22 consecutive shut out innings for the most scoreless innings at the start of a major-league career. His streak finally ended on May 13th after he allowed one earned run against the Detroit Tigers en route to a 6-2 victory.

In the National League…

On April 17th, New York Giants player-manager Mel Ott set several records during his team's 11-6 win over the Boston Braves. In 9-innings, Ott collected a double, two walks and three runs to achieve several career marks (for a single player with one team) including 1,026 extra-base hits, 2076 total bases, 1,778 RBIs, 1,787 runs, 1,631 walks.

The Boston Braves swept a July 6th double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-5 and 14-8 as Tommy Holmes hit in his 34th consecutive game to pass the previous streak of 33 set by Rogers Hornsby in 1922.

"Joe D's" older and less-famous brother Vince DiMaggio tied a major league record after hitting his 4th grand slam of the season during an 8-3 Philadelphia Phillies victory over the Boston Braves on September 1st. Unfortunately, DiMaggio would not get an opportunity to break the record as an injury would keep him out for the rest of the season.

Around the league…

Major league owners decided to cancel the 1945 All-Star Game due to wartime travel restrictions. Eight simultaneous games were scheduled in place of the Midsummer Classic pitting the National and American Leagues against one another in inter-league play.

Billy Southworth Jr., the first player in organized baseball to enlist for military service in WWII, died on February 15th after his B29 crashed off the coast of Flushing, New York. The 27-year-old combat veteran had flown 25 successful missions in Europe and was the son of St. Louis Cardinals manager Billy Southworth.

Despite the depletion of quality rosters around the league due to wartime commitments, attendance in ballparks across the majors rose to a staggering 10.28 million, breaking the 1940 record. The Detroit Tigers topped the list with 1.28 million and the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and Chicago Cubs came in a close second with 1 million fans each.

On October 23rd, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey announced the signing of Jackie Robinson as the first African-American to play in the major leagues. Over the course of a distinguished 10-year career, Robinson went go on to lead the Dodgers to six National League titles and one World Series championship. A man of many "firsts", Robinson also became the first black player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Off the field…

After months of preparation, a military coalition of 45 Allied divisions consisting of over 3 million soldiers began landing on Normandy Beach in France during one of the largest amphibious assaults ever conducted. Christened as "D-Day", June 6th became the major turning point in the war against Nazi Germany. After three weeks of intense fighting, Allied troops captured all of the Normandy peninsula and port of Cherbourg. By the end of August, Paris was liberated, and the Allied forces continued on toward Germany.

German forces conducted a surprise attack known as "The Battle of the Bulge" against U.S. forces in Belgium. The Germans made rapid progress, but were unable to capture the city of Bastogne thanks to the extraordinary efforts of American GI's who were "dug in" and completely encircled. Although a coalition of U.S. and British infantry divisions were able to counterattack forcing the Germans to withdraw, they suffered massive casualties totaled at over 35,000.

In the Pacific Campaign, American forces landed on the island of Iwo Jima, 750 miles south of Tokyo in an effort to gain a strategic foothold on the enemy's Navy and establish airbases for future bombing campaigns. The invasion resulted in some of the fiercest fighting ever witnessed in WWII as Japanese soldiers, who fought to the death, heavily opposed the landings. U.S. Marines managed to take the beachhead and eventually pushed inland to overwhelm the defenders in a few days.

In the American League…

Converted from a pitcher, outfielder Johnny Lindell of the New York Yankees tied a major league record on August 17th after hitting four consecutive doubles against the Cleveland Indians during a 10-3 effort at Yankee Stadium.

Hal Trosky, a comeback player with the Chicago White Sox, stole home in the 16th inning (to break a 2-2 tie) for a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Athletics on May 6th. The feat was not duplicated for twenty years until Willie Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the "same caper" in 1964.

Despite running a close race for first in the American League, the St. Louis Browns recorded the worst A.L. attendance on September 29th with an embarrassing total of only 6,172 fans witnessing their sweep of a double header against the New York Yankees. The following day, attendance doubled to 12,982 as Dennis Galehouse pitched the entire game, winning 2-0 for his 9th victory of the year. Two days later, the Browns were tied with the Detroit Tigers and boasted their first sellout in over 20 years as 37,815 packed Sportsman's Park to watch their "forgotten" team clinch the pennant on the final day of the season.

In the National League…

On May 9th, the New York Giants purchased one of the tallest players ever to play professional baseball, a six foot nine pitcher named Johnny Gee from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite a mediocre record of 5-8, he went on to split his limited season with a 2-4 record.

Red Barrett of the Boston Braves tossed a 58-pitch shutout over the Cincinnati Reds on August 10th for a 2-0 victory and a major-league record for fewest pitches in a nine-inning game. The outing itself set a record as the shortest night game ever at one hour and fifteen minutes.

One of baseball's worst franchises the Philadelphia Phillies attempted to induce public support by announcing a fan based contest to rename the team. Mrs. Elizabeth Crooks who was given a $100 war bond and a season ticket submitted the winning entry of "Blue Jays". Her entry, which would later end up on another team's uniform, was chosen over a number of monikers ranging from the Daisies to the Stinkers. The new name was used as the unofficial team title for 1944-45 but abandoned in 1946, though the team was still referred to in newspaper accounts as the "Blue Jays" occasionally through 1949.

Around the league…

Representatives from the top offices in both leagues met in New York City to discuss several new postwar policies and their effects on major league baseball. All parties agreed that all military deployments would count as playing time and any player who had served on active duty would be guaranteed 30 days of trial at pay and restrictions of their release or assignment.

Anticipating a positive change for race relations in the United States, the St. Louis Browns announced that they were officially dropping their "segregation policy" restricting African Americans to the bleachers while allowing them to purchase any ticket for any seat in the house.

The final survivor of baseball's original National Association (1871-75) John McKelvey died at the tender age of 96. Retired for many years and living in Rochester, New York, McKelvey was the oldest member of major league baseball.

On October 4th, the first all St. Louis World Series (dubbed the Streetcar Series) opened with the Browns beating the Cardinals 2-1. A Fall Classic of many firsts including no-days off, it was also the first Series in which all games were played west of the Mississippi River.

Off the field…

In Washington D.C., the Pentagon was completed making it the largest office building in the world. The revolutionary, five-sided building consisted of five concentric pentagons connected to each other by immense corridors covering an area of 34 acres and was intended to consolidate the various offices of the U.S. War Department and now the Department of Defense.

In January, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill held a World War II meeting known as the "Casablanca Conference" in French Morocco to form a joint declaration that pledged that the war would only end with the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers.

The withholding tax on wages was introduced in 1943 and was instrumental in increasing the number of taxpayers to 60 million and tax collections to $43 billion by 1945.

In the American League…

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Browns played four consecutive extra-inning games (May 31 and June 2) totaling 45-innings. Both leagues combined to set a major league record for overtime activity with 91 extra-innings in the American League and 80 in the National.

New York Yankees outfielder Roy Weatherly caught 10 separate fly balls in a single game on April 28th and then went on to repeat the performance on June 12th. In doing so, he became the first outfielder in major league history to record 10 putouts in a game - twice in one season.

On August 24th, the miserable Philadelphia Athletics recorded their 20th loss in a row tying the American League mark for consecutive defeats. Luckily they managed to avoid breaking the record by scoring 8 runs on the home team Chicago White Sox in the bottom half of the double header.

In the National League…

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rip Sewell debuted a bizarre "softball-like" pitch that looped the ball 18 to 20 feet high on its way down to the strike zone. The "gag-pitch" was almost impossible to judge from the batters box and was later coined as a "blooper" or "eephus ball". Despite the complaints of many batters from around the league, the approach was ruled legal and Sewell went on to a 20+ win season.

New York Giants player-manager Mel Ott walked 5 times in a single game on June 17th against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Amazingly Ott had also received 5 passes in two other games (1929 and 1933) and went on to set a major league record for seven consecutive walks over a 2-day period.

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the National League pennant thanks to the extraordinary play of second-year-man Stan Musial who hit .357 with 220 hits, 347 total bases, 48 doubles and 20 triples.

Around the league…

Baseball moguls Phil Wrigley and Branch Rickey established the All-American Girls Softball League as a "wartime sports backup" in case the government was forced to shut down major league baseball. The novelty league quickly became a very popular draw and later switched to hardball with a pitching distance of 40 feet and bases set at 68 feet apart.

Major League baseball approved a new "official" ball that was comprised of reclaimed cork and balata, which were two suitable materials that were not needed in the war effort. Officials insisted that the ball would have the resiliency of the old version, but players later complained of an inability to drive the "overripe grapefruits" and pointed out the lack of home runs as a result.

Due to the wartime absence of 60 starters (including some of the games greatest players: Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Enos Slaughter and Johnny Mize) major league baseball started 2 weeks later than usual as teams scrambled to fill their line-up cards and owners scrambled to fill their ballpark stands.

The evening before the All-Star Game in Boston, a team of Armed Forces "all-stars" managed by Babe Ruth and featuring Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams played the visiting Braves in a war fund-raising effort. Ruth himself agreed to pinch-hit in the 8th and his team went on to win 9-8 thanks to a Ted Williams homer. The following night, the Americans went on to edge the Nationals 5-3 in the first Midsummer Classic to be played under the lights.

Off the field…

Under Executive Order 9066, more than 120,000 Japanese and persons of Japanese ancestry living in western U.S. were moved to "relocation centers," (some for the duration of the war). After voluntary evacuation was prohibited, the Army forcibly moved approximately 110,000 evacuees, most of whom were American citizens, to 10 relocation centers in the Western states. Smaller numbers of Germans, Italians, and other nationalities were also forcibly relocated. Although food and shelter was provided and wages were paid to those who wished to work, living conditions were poor and induced several uprisings.

The worst nightclub fire disaster in history occurred when the infamous Coconut Grove of Boston caught fire claiming the lives of 492 patrons and injuring 166 others. It is believed that the fire originally started in the Melody Lounge when a 16-year-old bar boy named Stanley Tomaszewski, lit a match to replace a light bulb that had been removed by a patron. What exactly happened next is still unclear, but artificial palm trees and drapery quickly caught fire and it took only 15 minutes for flames to engulf the entire building.

In the American League…

Boston Red Sox slugger and American patriot Ted Williams enlisted in the military as a Naval aviator on June 2nd. He was able to finish the season, as did many other players who enlisted or were awaiting the draft, which moved at a very slow pace despite the early discouragements of the war. American League regulars who were also enlisted at the time included Johnny Rigney, Joe Grace, Johnny Berardino, Cecil Travis, Bob Feller, Pat Mullin, Buddy Lewis, Sam Chapman and Johnny Sturm.

On June 6th, Gene Stack of the Chicago White Sox became the first major-league draftee to die on active duty after suffering a heart attack following an Army ball game.

The New York Yankees infield combined to turn seven double plays (a major league record) during an August 14th, 11-2 massacre over the Philadelphia Athletics. All-Star catcher Bill Dickey gunned down two runners following third strikes and Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Murphy and Red Rolfe combined on five others. The Yankees went on to finish the season with 190 DPs just missing their previous record of 194 that was set in '41.

In the National League…

Boston Braves ace Jim Tobin became the only major league pitcher ever to hit three successive home runs during a May 13th, 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Braves Field. His last round tripper (in the 8th) broke a 4-4 tie and set the momentum for a win.

On June 19th, Boston Braves slugger Paul Waner joined Cap Anson and Honus Wagner as the only National League players to tally over 3,000 hits. The deciding mark came courtesy of visiting pitcher Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the same day his wife gave birth to a son, Chicago Cubs shortstop Lennie Merullo set a major league record with 4 separate errors in the 2nd inning of a nightcap against the Boston Braves. Despite the new father's poor play, the Cubs went on to win 12-8 after losing the first 10-6.

Around the league…

President Roosevelt granted major league baseball the go-ahead to play despite the travel and material restrictions of WW II. In his famous "Green Light" letter FDR stated that he honestly felt that it would be in the best interests of the country to keep baseball going. He also encouraged more night baseball games so that war workers could attend, as a well needed distraction.

Major league owners met to discuss the impact of wartime regulations on the 1942 season. Later, it was agreed that each team would be granted 14 night games with one exception in Washington who was granted 21. It was also determined that two All-Star Games would be played (one with a military All-Star team) and that all curfews for night games would be set with no inning to start after 12:50.

On March 18th, two black players Jackie Robinson and Nate Moreland requested a walk-on tryout with the Chicago White Sox during a spring training session in Pasadena. Manager Jimmie Dykes reluctantly allowed them to work out with the ball club, but dismissed both without an offer.

Baseball's top magazine publication "The Sporting News" published a controversial editorial calling for continued segregation on the ball field and in the stands. The racial column stated that members of each race "prefer to draw their talents from their own ranks and both groups know their crowd psychology and do not care to run the risk of damaging their own game."

Off the field…

The American decision to impose sanctions on Japan, in response to the Japanese invasion of Indo-China, convinced Japanese leaders that war with the United States was inevitable. While the Japanese government continued to project peace under the disguise of negotiations in Washington, plans went ahead for a surprise military action that would catch the U.S. completely off-guard. One major vulnerability proposed for an attack was the U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii that was reachable by an aircraft carrier force. Taking advantage of this strategic "loop-hole" the Japanese Navy secretly sent a naval battle group across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. After sneaking almost undetected past the military's radar, its planes hit the heart of the shipyard just before 8AM killing over 2400 Americans and destroying five of eight battleships and most of the Hawaii-based combat planes.

The governments of American and Great Britain declared the "Atlantic Charter" in anticipation of the end of World War II. The joint agreement expressed certain common principles in their national policies to be followed in the postwar period. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill signed the announcement aboard a warship in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland. It stated that neither country sought any territorial, or any other, sovereign enhancement from the war. It also proclaimed the right of all people to choose their own form of government and not to have boundary changes imposed on them. In addition, the charter expressed the hope that all countries would be able to feel secure from aggression and recognized the principle of freedom of the seas, expressed the conviction that humanity must renounce the use of force in international relations, and affirmed the need for military disarmament after the anticipated victory by Allied forces.

In the American League…

Taft Wright, an outfielder with the Chicago White Sox, set an American League record on May 20th after driving in at least one run in 13 consecutive games. During the streak, Wright recorded 22 RBIs although in six of the games he knocked in a run without a hit.

On May 25th, Boston Red Sox icon Ted Williams raised his record-setting batting average to over .400 for the first time. Over the remainder of the season, his quest to outdo Bill Terry (1930) played leapfrog on sports pages around the country with the New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio who was working on a hitting streak of his own.

Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak finally ended on July 17th thanks to solid pitching by Cleveland Indians pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby. Despite stopping the "Yankee Clipper", the Tribe was unable to stop the rest of New York and lost 6-5 in front of 60,000 fans.

In the National League…

The Chicago Cubs became the first major league baseball franchise to install an organ for fan entertainment. It was one of the only innovations ever to be introduced at Wrigley Field, which later boasted a "backward" reputation as the last ballpark ever to install lights.

The New York Giants became the first team to use plastic batting helmets during a June 6th double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although the batters appeared comfortable in their new headgear at the plate, they still went on to lose both games 5-4 and 4-3.

Frankie Frisch, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was ejected from the second game of an August 19th doubleheader after appearing on the field waving an umbrella to protest the playing conditions at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. American artist Norman Rockwell later transformed the humorous argument into a famous oil painting titled "Bottom of the Sixth".

Around the league…

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hugh Mulcahy became the first major leaguer drafted into the Armed Forces for WW II. An All-Star in 1940, Mulcahy would pitch less than 100 innings after he returned from the war. Over the next two years over 100 major leaguers were drafted and two (Elmer Gedeon and Harry O'Neill) were killed in action.

In response to the notorious "bean ball wars" of the 1940 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers inserted protective liners into their caps as a safety precaution. The rising aggressions between pitchers and batters had resulted in the serious injury and hospitalization of Joe Medwick, Billy Jurges, and others. Although the thin liners were hardly noticeable, many players around the league criticized them as a distraction.

37 year-old New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, also known as "The Iron Horse" died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (later renamed Lou Gehrig's Disease) on June 2nd. His legacy on the field included a lifetime batting average of .340, fifteenth all-time highest, and he amassed more than 400 total bases on five occasions. A player with few peers, Gehrig is still one of only seven players with more than 100 extra-base hits in one season. During his career he averaged 147 RBIs a year and his 184 RBIs in 1931 still remains the second highest single season total in American League history. Always at the top of his game, Gehrig won the Triple Crown in 1934, with a .363 average, 49 homers, and 165 RBIs, and was chosen Most Valuable player in both 1927 and 1936. Unbelievable for a man of his size, #4 stole home 15 times, and he batted .361 in 34 World Series games with 10 homers, eight doubles, and 35 RBIs. He also holds the record for career grand slams with 23. Gehrig hit 73, three-run homers, as well as 166 two-run shots, giving him the highest average of RBIs (per homer) of any player with more than 300 home runs.

Off the field…

The United States first adopted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. The act provided that not more than 900,000 men were to be in military training at any one time, and it limited active duty service to 12 months. After the United States entered World War II, a new selective service act made men between 18 and 45 liable for military service and required all men between 18 and 65 to register for the draft.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike debuted as the first multilane superhighway in the U.S. and the first Los Angeles freeway opened. Both set the standard for the rapid evolution of highway transportation development across the country. Since then every state has constructed at least one superhighway on either a toll or non-toll basis.

In the American League…

Yankees pitcher Spud Chandler almost single-handedly led New York to a 10-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox after knocking in six runs with a single, two home runs and a grand slam. His six RBI performance tied an American League record shared with Pete Appleton who was one of the pitchers he was facing.

During a 12-9 win over the Detroit Tigers, Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin became not the first player to cycle twice, but the first to do it a decade apart. Cronin, who had originally accomplished the feat in 1929, went 4-for-5 becoming the 5th Boston player ever to go the distance.

Boston Red Sox slammer Jimmie Foxx moved ahead of Lou Gehrig on the all time home run list after hitting #'s 494 and 495 off the Washington Senators en route to a 7-6 win on August 16th.

In the National League…

On May 7th, the Brooklyn Dodgers fell 18-2 after the St. Louis Cardinals totaled 49 bases on 20 hits. Thirteen knocks went for extra-bases and seven of them were home runs. The rally set a National League record for most extra bases on long hits with 29.

Brooklyn Dodgers' reliever Carl Doyle dropped the ball (and the game) after giving up 16 hits and 14 runs (in just four innings) as the Cincinnati Reds tallied 27 hits and a 23-2 victory. To make matters worse, Doyle also hit four Cincinnati batters to tie a National League record and initiated a bitter rivalry between the teams that would last for decades. Four days later, he was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Harry Danning, of the New York Giants, hit for the cycle against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 15th and became the last player of the century to include an IPHR in his cycle. The inside-the-park-homerun traveled 460 feet and became lodged behind an Eddie Grant memorial in front of the Giants' clubhouse. New York went on to win their 8th straight with a 12-1 triumph.

Around the league…

At the All-Star Game, outfielder Max West of the Boston Bees hit a 3-run homer in the first inning to lead the Nationals to victory over the American League. The 4-0 final was the first shutout ever recorded at a Midsummer Classic.

In response to the "beanball wars" Spalding Sporting Goods introduced a new style of batting helmet (with earflaps) to mixed reviews. The Brooklyn Dodgers also introduced a padded cap liner that some batters elected to use the following season.

Walter Johnson, the man who had won 416 games for the Washington Senators, lost the election as the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland. Although Johnson's political career ended before it began, his career on the field seemed to never end as he compiled statistics that included 16 straight wins (1912); a string of 56 scoreless innings, and a 36-7 (1.09) mark in 1913; five wins, three of them shutouts, in nine days (1908); 66 triumphs over Detroit, the most for any American League pitcher against any one team; 200 victories in eight seasons and 300 in fourteen. 

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All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
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