Title

Slackers at Home Plate: Baseball and Mobilization in America during the First World War

Date

5-29-2014 1:30 PM

End Time

29-5-2014 2:00 PM

Location

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

Department

History

Session Chair

John L. Rector

Session Title

History Master Degree Papers

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Kimberly Jensen

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Baseball, also known as “America’s Pastime,” played a unique role in American culture in the outbreak of the First World War. In the spirit of total war, the manufacturing of sports goods was limited in order to make room for the manufacturing of wartime supplies. In addition to this, Secretary of War Newton Baker executed his “work or fight” order which dictated that all males eligible for military service not involved in “essential wartime industries” were to report for military service. Conversely, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States and avid baseball fan, assured Major League Baseball magnates that the war would not disrupt and that they would be allowed to continue their seasons as baseball was “the nation’s game” and a good distraction of the public from the war. From this situation, a paradox ensued where the President of the United States gave his blessing for American baseball to function on the home front, yet legislation and restrictions were in place to prevent it from happening. In order to keep Major League Baseball functioning and to avoid the draft, many Major League Baseball players managed to avoid the draft by taking part in “essential wartime industries.”

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May 29th, 1:30 PM May 29th, 2:00 PM

Slackers at Home Plate: Baseball and Mobilization in America during the First World War

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

Baseball, also known as “America’s Pastime,” played a unique role in American culture in the outbreak of the First World War. In the spirit of total war, the manufacturing of sports goods was limited in order to make room for the manufacturing of wartime supplies. In addition to this, Secretary of War Newton Baker executed his “work or fight” order which dictated that all males eligible for military service not involved in “essential wartime industries” were to report for military service. Conversely, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States and avid baseball fan, assured Major League Baseball magnates that the war would not disrupt and that they would be allowed to continue their seasons as baseball was “the nation’s game” and a good distraction of the public from the war. From this situation, a paradox ensued where the President of the United States gave his blessing for American baseball to function on the home front, yet legislation and restrictions were in place to prevent it from happening. In order to keep Major League Baseball functioning and to avoid the draft, many Major League Baseball players managed to avoid the draft by taking part in “essential wartime industries.”