By the end of World War II, the United States had endured nearly four years of continual sacriﬁce and hardship to soundly defeat the Axis Powers. During those years, millions of Americans answered the call, ﬁghting in every corner of the globe to preserve the institutions of the nation. With the armed forces swollen to an extent never seen before or since, American military ofﬁcials had to adapt quickly to accommodate this mass of humanity and maximize its formidable ﬁghting potential. An important aspect of the training and success of these servicemen was maintaining a high level of morale. On the battleﬁeld, this was accomplished primarily through such time-tested techniques as propaganda and providing adequate clothing, food, equipment. Away from the front lines, sustaining morale became somewhat more vague and difﬁcult to establish. During their extensive down times, men often engaged in such behavior as drinking, gambling, and soliciting prostitutes, all of which was difﬁcult to regulate and, some felt, sowed the seeds of discontent. To redirect the energies of soldiers and sailors into more constructive activities military leaders turned above all to athletics.
Because of baseball's popularity among American ﬁghting men, the national pastime was the logical centerpiece for the military's athletic programs. By organizing teams of servicemen, ofﬁcers aimed to inspire loyalty, camaraderie, and a sense of teamwork— all characteristics of high morale. Furthermore, whenever overtraining became an issue, military commanders utilized the game to preserve soldiers' and sailors' physical ﬁtness without subjecting them to the tedium of repeated exercises.