This Day in Baseball History: February 21st, 1945

I just feel bad for the guys who “made the team” and never made it again.

On February 21, 1945:

Major League Baseball decided to cancel the 1945 All-Star Game, the first one not played since the game’s inception in 1933.

As World War II raged, Germany was being pummeled, and Japan became the focus of the war effort, travel restrictions were placed on the country. Planes were needed to transport goods and troops, but air travel was nowhere near as developed as it is now. Railroads, the most popular form of travel, needed to be relatively clear for the same reason. If the country didn’t restrict travel, something could have happened, and the country’s reaction would have been slowed. Before you ask about highways, they weren’t around yet and wouldn’t be for another 11 years (actually, it would be more years, but the legislation was passed in 1956 under Dwight Eisenhower), so they couldn’t use those. Because of this restriction, the owners decided to cancel the game with the belief it would save 500,000 traveling miles (how does one come up with that?).

Baseball also decided some other rule changes to help with the government’s “request”. There were to be no neutral site games. Teams had to travel with the bare minimum number of players, coaches, etc. They weren’t even sure they would hold the World Series. Luckily, Truman would drop two atom bombs and the World Series occurred (yes, that was a joke, but I wonder how many people were glad he dropped the bomb so the World Series could happen).

Still, the country tried everything possible to act as normal when the All-Star Game came around. The Associated Press released an unofficial version of the All-Star players by getting the votes from 13 of 16 managers. Two of those who refused to respond were the “managers” in the game (Luke Sewell and Billy Southworth) and the other one refused to vote on such short notice (Joe McCarthy). After the fall of Berlin, Michael Todd tried to and almost convinced the MLB to hold the game in Nuremburg Stadium, but military advisors squashed the idea (the schedule would have had to be delayed by a month to get the players to and from Germany).

Instead of the All-Star Game, teams decided to play the War Relief Fund Games. These were exhibitions held by teams in the same city or at least close enough for the government not to freak out. The revenues of these exhibition games went to, not surprisingly, the war effort and the American Red Cross.

The game was to be held in Fenway Park, and as restitution, Boston was awarded the 1946 game.

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