The Baltimore Orioles didn’t exist until 1954. However December 7th is a date that forever changed both baseball and America – in 1941. Today of course is the anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, which propelled the United States into WWII.
There was much talk about baseball shutting down during the war. And with good reason – many of the biggest names were part of the war effort. The DiMaggio’s, Williams’, etc. of the world were all overseas serving a higher purpose. However President Franklin Roosevelt wrote what became known as the Green Light Letter in 1942. In effect, he thought that having baseball continue would ease the fears of the American public. In essence, it would represent business as usual.
The league played on, but at a decidedly lower quality of play. With so many stars out fighting for their country, the league couldn’t help but be at a disadvantage. But as almost a motif of America and American life, baseball pressed on.
The Green Light Letter also had one other point of interest to me. President Roosevelt offered a friendly suggestion to the league to perhaps offer more night games in the schedule. Americans on the home front were having to work harder to support the war effort, and with games always being during the day, it was difficult for people to get to games. Night games made it easier.
Ironically, I’m of the mindset that baseball should schedule more day games now. I recognize that’s not about to happen for the most part, but it’s a personal preference – partly due in part to the fact that the roots of the game were games played under the sun. But nevertheless, it’s interesting to note that night games began getting phased in due to a an event that set in motion of series of events, 78 years ago today.