Summertime seems an appropriate time to turn archival eyes towards baseball.  The FDR Presidential library holds one bit of baseball memorabilia — FDR’s 1942 “green light” letter.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7, 1941, and the following January, FDR was in contact with Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the commissioner of baseball.  Landis queried whether professional baseball should be suspended in light of World War II:

“The time is approaching when, in ordinary conditions, our teams would be heading for Spring training camps.  However, inasmuch as these are not ordinary times, I venture to ask what you have in mind as to whether professional baseball should continue to operate.”

On the very next day, FDR gave the go-ahead to continue playing ball.  Although he acknowledged the decision ultimately rested with Landis and the owners, he provided solid arguments for why baseball should continue:

“There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.  And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.”

For more context on this story, see the 2002 article published in NARA’s Prologue.

Despite this decision, major league baseball did change because of the drafting of so many players into the military.  So Negro Leagues Baseball and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League garnered some attention in their stead.

Of course, the other place to look for a baseball archive is the Archive and Collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  They have tens of thousands of three-dimensional artifacts (e.g., jerseys, baseballs), over 3 million documents, over 250,000 photographic images, and 16,000 hours of recorded media.

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