The End of an Era
I end with Donald Barnes’ dramatic bid to relocate his team to Los Angeles. Although the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor may not have been the sole reason he was unable to effect the relocation, the attack began another round of upheaval for Major League Baseball. Uncle Sam drafted many big-name stars, including Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, and Joe DiMaggio. Travel restrictions affected playing schedules. Fans were preoccupied by more serious matters, and, of course, having millions of young men serving around the world at military bases shrank the game’s fan base (although this may have been partially offset by the increased number of workers with money in their pockets at industrial plants). President Roosevelt supported baseball, so the owners did not have to shut down for the duration. Baseball’s first two wartime summers were not particularly profitable ones, but as the Allies became paramount, profits rose and presaged the stunning 1946–49 boom.
For the owners, having the crowds return even though the talent level was diluted meant increasing revenues against stagnant or even falling payrolls. After the war, team payrolls would comprise a significantly smaller proportion of either total revenue or total expenses.
In the absence of the war, one can imagine that television would have developed years ahead of its postwar boom. The owners quickly embraced the new technology during the late 1940s, but it is an open