Posted in World War II Chronicle

World War II Chronicle: 3 January 1942

There was a lot to worry about in 1942.

How can we understand what it must have been like during the beginning days of World War II, experiencing things as they happened instead of reading a summary of what happened three-quarters of a century later? Most of us haven’t experienced anything we can use to grasp what it was like to live through the dark days of December 1941 and January 1942. The closest we can come would be comparing the shock from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Pearl Harbor since both were surprise attacks that killed thousands of Americans. But Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network wasn’t powerful enough to sink a good portion of our Pacific fleet while simultaneously conquering most of the Pacific. You also didn’t have Hezbollah, Fatah, and HAMAS controlling most of Europe and threatening to finish off the Soviet Union. That paints a way more ominous picture, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is playing out in real life.

We know now that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had little hope of winning the wars they started, but that is because we can look back three-quarters of a century later and see clearly what we did right and what our enemies did wrong. There are many things that the Allies could have done differently that could have changed the course of the war. For example, what if President Roosevelt died sooner and we ended up with a timid, meddling, or incompetent commander-in-chief? What if Adm. Nimitz’s plane was shot down over the South Pacific instead of Adm. Yamamoto? What if our strategy stunk or if we didn’t effectively mobilize our war economy? What if the Axis nations coordinated their global strategy more effectively than we did? What if instead of mass-producing constantly improving planes, tanks, and ships, we produced jets and rockets like Germany or spectacular dreadnought battleships like Japan, both of which wasted precious manpower and resources that could have been applied to more useful projects that could have turned the tide for the Axis?

It’s easy to take for granted the countless events, big and small, that added up to an Allied victory that, when you think about it, could have gone right for our enemy instead. Continue reading “World War II Chronicle: 3 January 1942”

Posted in Baseball Military History

Military veterans of Major League Baseball

Thousands of Major League Baseball players have answered the nation’s call, serving in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and peacetime. The following post is just one of what will become several slideshows of players who served in the United States Armed Forces.

Gil Hodges

On 3 October 1943, a rookie Brooklyn Dodger named Gil Hodges hops off the bench for his first-ever professional baseball game (Hodges played college ball for St. Joseph’s College then went straight into the Minor Leagues). Cincinnati ace Johnny Vander Meer — who would serve in the Navy during World War II — strikes Hodges out twice, but Hodges draws a walk in his third and final plate appearance of the season. After this game he joins the Marine Corps, playing baseball for the 16th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion while on Hawaii, but soon ships out for combat on Tinian and is among the first troops ashore on Okinawa, where the future eight-time All Star earns a Bronze Star for valor.

[Click the navigation menu below for more baseball players that served our country]