Joe Schuster is the author of The Might Have Been, a finalist for the 2013 CASEY Award, and One Season in the Sun, part of Gemma Media's series of books for its adult literacy project. A member of SABR, he has contributed to the organization's Biography Project and has also written about baseball for Sport and St. Louis Cardinals Game Day, among other magazines. He teaches at Webster University.
Even before the United States entered the Second World War in December 1941, baseball’s powers-that-be were assessing how it might affect the game. This was especially true when, in late summer 1940, Congress began debating instituting a military draft.
In response, The Sporting News ran a commentary discussing how a draft might impact the game, saying in part:
In 1897, one of the most widely followed baseball stories in the country centered on an athlete who never played an inning of professional ball, and yet the event that thrust him into the national spotlight was so compelling, years later, it became the basis of the first feature film about a baseball player.
While the precise details of his story are a bit muddy, largely because of what I’ll call the “informal” nature of journalism in that era, the essential facts appear to be these:
In season, it’s nearly impossible to be out of range of a televised Major League Baseball game, whether through a cable or satellite service courtesy of one of the sport’s billion- or multibillion-dollar local or national broadcasting contracts or streaming through mlb-dot-tv. Even Facebook is part of our TV connection to America’s pastime since, this year, it has a deal allowing it to stream a game every Friday.
After a disappointing showing in the 1908 Olympic Games in London, in which the host nation trounced the American contingent decidedly—winning 146 medals to only 47 for the US team—several US Olympic Committee officials accused British organizers of gross unfairness.
I first read Mark Harris’s classic baseball novel Bang the Drum Slowly in a mass-market paperback edition, packaged for $2.95 as Henry Wiggen’s Books with two other Harris works, The Southpaw and A Ticket for a Seamstitch. This was in the late 1970s, when the team I have followed for most of my life, the St. Louis Cardinals, was having a particularly bad season.