"Patriotic Industry": Baseball's Reluctant Sacrifice in World War I

By Hensler, Paul | Nine, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

"Patriotic Industry": Baseball's Reluctant Sacrifice in World War I


Hensler, Paul, Nine


Nearly a century ago--as the Red Sox and White Sox held sway over the American League, and the National League was dominated by teams in the Northeast corridor--the United States found itself in a super-heated atmosphere of patriotic fervor. In the spring of 1917, the continuing and expanding German pugnacity on the high seas coupled with the revelation of the nefarious Zimmerman telegram, forced an agonized President Woodrow Wilson to abrogate his reelection pledge to stay out of the fight. In early April, he asked Congress for and received a declaration of war against Germany.

With America's participation as an active combatant now a reality, the nation's mobilization lurched into high gear, and to remove any trace of doubt as to the worthiness of the United States's commitment to the conflict, the Wilson administration sought to encourage--others would say coerce--a skeptical public into supporting the war effort. Legislation, in the form of the Alien Act, the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Sedition Act, and the Espionage Act, was adopted to squelch dissent of any kind among the populace, while the propaganda machinery embodied in the Committee on Public Information, created by the administration and fronted by George Creel, was chief among the instruments of promoting, indeed enforcing, patriotism. Associations such as the American Protective League, described by the historian David Kennedy as practicing "the excesses of a quasi-vigilante organization" with the blessing of the Justice Department, intimidated the United States citizenry into toeing the patriotic line so that the ultimate defeat of the Central Powers could be hastened. (1)

In 1917, baseball became immersed in this cauldron. The exigencies of the time dictated that young men be conscripted into the armed services or otherwise employed in war industry, such as working in a shipyard, munitions plant, or steel mill, to prepare the American military for action in Europe. On May 19, 1917, the government officially instituted the Selective Service Act, subjecting men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty--later expanded to a range of eighteen to forty-five years--to conscription. Eventually 24 million men (44 percent of all American males) would be registered; 6.5 million were deemed fit for service, with 2.7 million finally serving in the army during hostilities. (2) Given these numbers, it was only natural that a swelling of the military ranks would include athletes from the worlds of baseball, football, boxing, and tennis. As the national pastime lost increasing numbers to the war effort, baseball became increasingly resistant to the drain of players from its teams' lineups.

A nationwide Army Registration Day, held on June 5, 1917, was an unqualified success because Secretary of War Newton Baker and Provost Marshal General Enoch Crowder employed the small tendrils of local draft boards overseen by men who in most cases were friends, neighbors, or at least acquaintances of many of their regional enlistees, thus avoiding the poor response rates that Baker and Crowder knew had hampered Union conscription attempts during the Civil War, in which high-ranking--and imposing--military officers comprised the committees that decided what men were to be inducted into the army.

For baseball's part, however, two weeks before Registration Day, National League president John Tener wrote to the NL club owners opining that he felt "no obligation, either fixed or moral, that we should depart from our daily routine of business" of playing scheduled games. (3) Days later the National Commission--comprised of Tener, American League president Ban Johnson, and commission head August Herrmann--asked that each team "co-operate heartily" with the registration event not by postponing games but by ensuring that "bands be engaged to play patriotic music ... where games are scheduled on that day." (4) Those obligated to register could do so from seven o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock that evening, and rather than overplay their patriotism by postponing contests, the commission felt that music would sufficiently convey "public expression of the willingness on the part of major league baseball clubs to serve the country at this vital crisis of its history. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Patriotic Industry": Baseball's Reluctant Sacrifice in World War I
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.