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tv   Boston Red Sox World War II  CSPAN  April 26, 2021 6:01pm-7:04pm EDT

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gordon edes it is the historian of the boston red sox. he talks about battlefield contributions during world war ii. through ted williams and others the give insight to the athletes training, combat experience and the reception when the arrive home. today we have a great program, which is for the boston red
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sox. we're looking at the boston red sox and world war ii and we will be joined by a great panel. >> today we have a great program, which will explore one of most popular topics in boston which is the boston red sox. specifically looking at boston red sox and world war ii. we will be joined by a great panel which will be led by my good friend gordon, this is his fifth program with us last couple of years and he has done a lot of work with our organization. he is the official historian of the boston red sox, and before that he covered the team for 18 years for the boston globe and espn. before we begin, i will mention a couple of protocols that we use with zoom, there will be a program that will run about 45 or 50 minutes, we will then open it up to the audience for q and a. if you'd like to participate, you can use the q
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and a function at the bottom of the screen. type in your question and make sure to read the question and we'll try to get to his many of them as we possibly can. we will try to get too many, but with over hundred 50 people attending, we may not be able to get all of them. thank you all for joining us, and without further ado, i will toss this off to gordon. hi, gordon. >> hi, thank you so much, welcome everyone. catherine told me just before we started that if i do one more presentation i will be eligible for health insurance. so i am hoping to stick around for a sixth next year. needless to say, i wish we are in different circumstances and that i would be leading you all on a short walk from massachusetts historical site on the corner over at fenway park, we have done that for past events. we live in hope that day will come again. in the meantime, i am so delighted that so many of you have elected to join us tonight and as noted, we have a great panel and it is my privilege as we embark on this discussion on
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the 75th anniversary on the end of world war ii and the red sox participation in the great war. it is my pleasure to introduce my panel. i'm going to begin with anne keene, she is a native of north carolina and texas resident who has authored one of the most unique books about the intersection of baseball and world war ii, cloud buster nine. it is a very tantalizing subtitle of the untold story of ted williams and the baseball team that helped win world war ii. >> thank you, thank you very much. >> it is a story that and unearths while preparing the eulogy for her dad, she has told her story in many places including the baseball hall of fame and the world war ii museum. we are thrilled that
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you are joining us this evening. michael connelly is a lifetime resident of the boston neighborhood of west roxbury. and there he is, hello, michael. he lives with his wife and they phrased their son ryan. in addition to fenway 1946, he has written five other books including one about the boston marathon order, 26 miles to boston, and another book called rebound, basketball, busting and larry bird and the rebirth of boston. that is an
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interesting juxtaposition of elements there. and he also wrote the president's team, the great naval academy football team of 1963. counted among its biggest fans, president john f. kennedy. michael is also one of the four founding members of the non profit boston bullpen project. thank you for joining us this evening, we can't wait to hear your observations. >> it is my pleasure, thank you. >> you got it. and finally, this man is no stranger to most of you. he is the most prolific writer ever on red sox history. and don't even bother to protest that designation because no one has even come close, bill has forgotten more red sox history than most of us know. he's a board member for american research, he was a cofounder in his other life of rounder records. he is an author of countless books on the red sox, including when baseball went to war and also ted williams at war. he has been a panelist in previous presentations that i have been honored to host. welcome and thank you for being here.
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>> i forgot what it was like to have fenway park filled with fans. i want to take you back to september 28th, 1941, when the eyes of baseball were on philadelphia's scheid park. the
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red socks, it was the last day the regular season, the red sox were hopes leslie out of contention, 17 games or so. but the reason baseball was focused on that park on that afternoon is ted williams, in his third season as a major leaguer had a chance to become the first 400 hitter in the american league since 1923. now he could have set out. the red sox were scheduled to play a doubleheader that, he could have set out because his battering average was 0. 3 nine nine five plus, which in baseball they would've rounded up to 400. but ted was not going to back into it, he insisted on playing and he wound up getting six hits and eight at bats that doubleheader and wound up with a batting average of 406 and remains the last player going on 80 years to hit over 400. but on that same day, there were other prying eyes 5000 miles away in hawaii, where japanese spies were casing pearl harbor for places, targets to bomb. and two months later, the world and certainly the world of baseball would be turned upside down. now, the president of the time, roosevelt, already had determined that america was
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woefully unprepared for any possibility of going to war. so in september of 1940, fdr had already implemented the draft in which all men between the ages of 21 and 30, all able bodied men, were required to register for the draft. and it would be in march of 1941 that the first major leaguer was called up into the service. a brighten boy of all things. a graduate of brighten high
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school, a kid by the name mulcahy, a pitcher who had the rather stark-y nickname of losing pitcher. and the reason he had that nickname was in the span of four seasons, he lost 76 games for the fillies, the door mats of the national league at the time. he was the first to go in, i believe he was assigned to fort evidence which is about 35 to 40 bows west of boston. but soon enough, a much bigger name would join. including hank graver who was called up in may, the slugging first baseman for the detroit tigers, future hall-of-famer and defending american league sky book player. he goes into this service and within a day or two with the bombing of pearl harbor on december 7th, a number of players immediately enlisted, most notably bob fell or, the future hall of fame pitcher. eventually, more than 500 big leakers would ultimately serve in the armed forces during world war ii, including 30 who appeared on the red sox roster. and over 4000 minor leakers. somewhat
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remarkably, no major leaguers died in combat, but all for 45 were route wounded, and the great knuckleball or -- so that is setting the stage. the big question facing major league baseball as an institution was to play or not to play. that led to the commissioner of baseball at that time writing what would become known as the green light letter to fdr seeking some guidance on what baseball should do. michael, can you pick up the story from there?
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>> sure gordon. so the letter from the commissioner talks about this not being an ordinary times and that the decision to play on such a serious social and military action was going on was very concerning to him and he thought it was above his pay grade. so, he reached out to the president with a letter on january of 1942 and asked should we play? president roosevelt sat down and returns that letter with, i honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. and i think they saw baseball as part of americana transcended the arena. it was more important for camaraderie and morale to continue to play and that played out through the war as men in foxholes and people working double shifts back home would come home to the games or listen on the radio. it was a critical part of the war effort to keep baseball going.
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>> is it also true that it may have actually encouraged the proliferation of night games in major league baseball? didn't fdr make the point, hey, for the purposes of morale, wouldn't it be great if some of our factory workers could get off work at 5:00 and go to a ball game? how much of a role did that play? >> not only night games but they're also scheduled games at 11:00 in the morning. working around all the shifts to make sure as many americans could participate in the sport. baseball would play a role in the war effort. >> did that leave the players in kind of a no man's land of whether they should play? or because fdr said in essence you are an essential service, you are performing an essential role, but at the same time, if
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their brothers and neighbors and uncles are all going into the service, did that create some conflict for them? and i guess we can bring up ted williams in this context as well. >> it was a difficult decision for everyone, war was anticipated but then it was suddenly thrust upon america with the bombing of pearl harbor. ted williams had applied for a deferment in the spring of 1941. he was the sole support of his mother in san diego and he was granted one as almost everyone in baseball was. but then when pearl harbor hit, the whole thing changed. people started thinking about, you are an able bodied athletes, they ought to be prepared to fight along with everyone else. shortly after pearl harbor, about a month later, his deferment was pulled back. he was reclassified as one a, that's ready to serve. someone appealed that on his behalf. i'm sure he knew the appeal was
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going in, but it was on his behalf. and again he was granted it. it was a little bit of discomfort, even in the red sox organization, wondering if this was good pr. to have their star player granted a deferment. it was a little bit of pressure, it began to develop. he went around on spring training and got a lot of support from servicemen who came out to games and gave him a big round of applause, so he decided to make his point, stick with it and then in may he signed up for the navy to start at the end of the season. >> but before he got to that point, he did become a bit of a -- he took a pretty good beating in the press. correct? >> some of that press, dave
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egan, who spoke up for him, but it was a mixed bag. he was in a very uncomfortable situation. he was indeed the sole supporter of his mother and she was a salvation army worker, not bringing in any money on her own. he had just started making money, a good payday. he wanted to get in that one season, 1942. and then he was prepared to serve. but he knew he was in a difficult situation. >> what about the fans? you wrote that he took -- even at home, at fenway park some fans let him know that they are not terribly pleased with how this was the appreciation for baseball. the fact baseball is played but they also brothers, sons and husbands fighting in the war, on ships and in foxholes. to see ted williams playing the boys game and have
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the opportunity changed really angered a lot of people. he lost a lot of endorsements over this. and he was expected to be booed in every park including fenway, when he stepped out to the point opening day 1942, he heard all the boos and from until he hit the ball ten, he rolls over the bullpen and received a standing ovation. >> that doesn't sound like red sox fans at all. >> pick up his story and in doing so, as ted winds up going to north carolina, to flight instructor school, please share with us your personal story of how this saga ended up disengaging so completely. >> i want to tell you, i'm a native north carolina, my dad was a little boy, about ten
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years old, and he was the bat boy. he passed away a few years ago. my father had become a professional player but did not make it to the major leagues. but i got a hold of some scrapbooks. my part of the presentation is going to be heavy with pictures. this was in chapel hill at a navy pre-flight base. it was ground training, it was one of the toughest military training programs in the world. the next screen is my dad with buddy, don kaplan, and head survival god which we will touch on later. next slide the five guys that come down from amherst and shift into chapel hill together. most of these players played the majority of ball in chapel hill the will show you a little bit about the culture i just got a hold of this, one month ago and these guys really were captain marvel's. it is amazing how things come together after people pass away. you start looking at
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their scrapbooks. the next picture is a page out of the comic book. and that is actually a cartoon from the navy base. so the next slide we'll show you a little bit more, this was a famous picture, my dad is the little kid. the guy still alive standing up second from the right and he is about, he is about his late eighties. the next slide is my dad on the knee of johnny preston. and of course with the baseball coach, next slide, i'm a rattle through these quickly. that is my father, i don't know anyone remembers little johnny mascot, he was the philip morris mascot came over from
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durham. big tobacco, being in north carolina, this is the dugout during one of the games. and there you go. ted warmed up and johnny was always happy, always with a smile on his face. but if you look at the condition of the field, it was an old college field, but it was really barebones and they trained about ten hours a day physically, hit the classrooms, and during the week they hit the road on broken down buses on wednesday and often every saturday, ted played out of town, ted played about 23 or 24 games in chapel hill for about three months. next slide, johnny always happy. he did not know how to swim when he got there, i found that fascinating, but always a big smile on his face. >> is it also true that johnny washed out in pilot training? >> technically, he did. i believe that happens at the
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next phase of advanced training, but actual got a hold of his training records and that instructors would write, you know, he knows he just can't do it. too much laps. he is a menace to the airfield but i think he's a very break i. he ends up flourishing as a coach. but not a great pilot. >> if that is the only hole in johnny's dance card, we are all fine with that. he's a beloved figure, we miss him dearly. >> right, right. we love him. i think i have a couple more slides they don't want to take up too much of the presentation, this is another one. i believe this is when joe. they had many reunions at some of the games. and then, let's see, this is a card that i'm sure a lot of the viewers have. that is from
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chapel hill. you have to squint to read the writing on the plaque, but that is one of the pieces of memorabilia i've been collecting over the years. it's amazing. there you go, this is a famous picture. i think it is fox property, that's fenway park. and he got away on rare occasions for an all-star game. i'm gonna touch on this later, i would like to come back, i opened my book with the famous yankees game when babe ruth got the chance to manage a roster of indians against the navy pilots. that was july of 1943, we will touch on that later. thank you. >> thank you. while we are focusing a great deal on red sox players who were on the active roster at the time world war ii broke out, we would be remiss, i think you would all agree, if we didn't touch onto
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stories of guys who were no longer playing at that time. one was mo bergh. we could do an entire presentation just on him. they made a movie of his life. he spoke a dozen languages and he went to princeton, he got his law degree, and evidently as a baseball player was quite satisfied with his lot in life as a backup catcher. and ultimately a bullpen catcher. but mo in the early thirties and in in 1932 and 1934, made a couple of trips to japan with a team of major leaguers and played exhibition games against the japanese. while over there, moe kind of sauntered into, i believe it was a hospital under the pretext of visiting a patient there. and he took a
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camera and went up to the roof and took a picture of all kinds of installations in tokyo. as the story was later told, general james doolittle used those photos when he bombed tokyo in the great raid and battle of tokyo. the new yorker writer who wrote the catcher was a spy for the new yorker, which became a novel later on, has cast some doubt on just how useful those photos were for the general. but it is indisputable that moe was recruited into the ranks of a office of strategic services
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which was the precursor of the cia. and also was involved in the certipath a trip to europe. he to take in a lecture from highs and bergh who was a physicist who the americans helped develop an atomic bomb. he said he had instructions to take him out, he carried a pistol, and through the lecture he was instructed to take him out if he got any kind of affirmation that it was indeed eisenberg's intent. but that did not happen. it's a great story, i don't know how much of it is rooted in fact. and michael, you wrote about it, what is your sense? >> maybe a little bit, it's interesting that in 42 ted williams and mo barak were teammates on the 1930 19 together. he had 145 rbi's, moe
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had five. flash forward to 42 and he is now the -- and 42 ted williams and moberg on the team together. it was ted's rookie year he had 145 rbis, mo had five. flash forward to 42 and mo is now the bullpen and approaches red sox officials says i would like to be let out of my contract so i can join the military and one way or another volunteers to make. first of all, when the red sox opened the 2008 season in japan, i went to the place where moberg took some pictures. >> it's a university hospital now and i went up to the roof there to see what the view was. the skyline has changed a lot. the other thing i want to mention is about the photos that and showed us, they were all photos from facebook. these guys actually did baseball as part of the recreation. but
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when johnny became -- he did not receive his wings but he worked and logistics and spying during the war, ted williams became so adept at gunnery that he was made a gunnery instructor and was teaching other people how to use machine guns and fighter aircraft. they had regular duties, you don't want give people the impression that they were just sitting around playing baseball. >> right, this particular sports camp, as you saw in a comic book, they learned to box, russell, they ran track, they spent nights out in the woods, dropped out 30 miles from basin told they have two days to make it back. it was full scale, full on training. i will show you some images also of some other famous cadets who were there as well. again, it was a super intense sports camp. many different sports. >> the other story that i am
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just so taken with. it's a story that i was unfamiliar with until i became a red sox historian, the story of tsai wilson. he was the first jewish player that the red sox ever had. he played in the twenties and was outfielder, one game upstaged the great babe ruth. he hit two home runs, babe had only one. he got hurt while playing in the minors, came back to boston, opened a factory to make tin cans. and he also played in the local boston salon. pearl horrible happens, he tries to enlist. he is reject it, he has bad teeth, he is bad knees, they said forget about it. a couple of years later, i believe the
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timing was such that his son had lied about his age, said he was a year older than he actually was enlisted and enlisted at the age of 16, so in 1943, out of his own pocket pays to get to his knees repaired, gets his teeth fixed and he is allowed to list in the navy. he is serving in the european operation, his son is in with the marines with the pacific. pick up the story from there. >> buddy was killed on christmas day, 1943, the marines were trying to capture some japanese airfields. the u. s. marine corps lost returned 25 soldiers that day. he had
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just turned 17. he was killed. his dad of course was already serving on a ship in europe and nine months later he had his ultimately, i believe the 1960
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or 1961 he was given his own day at fenway park. michael, you said he is buried a block or so from where you live? >> he is buried in a cemetery just on the side of west rocks berry, right next to his son. it's an amazing chapter in red-sox history. he has such tragedy, but he finds a way to give and i think someone that is under recognized in our city and hopefully in the future we can recognize him for his great works. >> i think he may be a future candidate for the red sox hall of fame. we should certainly give that another look. one of the aspects that i would like to turn to, and addition to the involvement of the players, is that the red socks as an organization heard from a lot
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of g.i.s who were serving overseas. you tell a couple of great stories in your book, about a dozen or so marines i believe who are fighting, in the pacific, they reached out to tom. tell us that story. >> so tom gets a letter from what i can now. ten men, all boston residents, they write to him and ask, when we return we would like to have opening day tickets. and he immediately responds to them, i know you can't tell me where you are, but i can tell you where you will be opening day when you get back. there will be tickets ready for you. it's just a great story and talks again about how baseball transitions the sport. and how important the red sox were in community works overseas so that they could have something to look
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forward to when they get back. >> you also tell the story about a fire pilot. the manager of the club. >> joe spinner, he was a first baseman, he enlisted becomes a fighter pilot. he writes to joe and asks, for every japanese plane i shoot down will you give me a red sox hat? and he has his secretary send them ten the red sox hats. they are so thankful that the crew puts together a bracelet made out of japanese planes they had shot. down. they send them to her secretary and she wears that bracelet to johnny pesky's wedding later that year. >> what a great story. speaking of great stories, i want to turn that exhibition game, you have a great story. we all heard about ted williams legendary eyesight. but you take that to another level. tell us that story. >> there is a condition or
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phenomenon called tetrachromacy. it's when somebody has the ability to see more color than the average person we all know ted has perfect eyesight but in addition he had perfect hand i he was super disciplined focused, he just truly had a command of all of his senses. so of course, as a pilot especially a marine combat pilot but going back to his vision i start to look at some medical records in doing some research, and i thought perhaps he could see more colors than most people. it would not surprise me i'm not an optometrist or physician, it is more common a woman but it happens with men. let's think of it this way, i see 100 colors he might see 150 colors, but what does that do to dimension and speed and velocity. there are all these
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rumors that he could see a baseball spinning as it came at him at 85 miles an hour, think of it. the red seams of a baseball, i don't know it's one of the theories i came up with. but looking at his medical records especially, during preflight school he was in perfect shape and had fabulous eyesight, and it's something to think about. >> what about the story with the tie? >> okay so again they played in chapel hill called what color is the man's necktie and i heard this from the son of the baseball coach. and he was a big game hunter. he hunted bears, and had excellent vision himself. and they would take ted up in an airplane, above the small airport at chapel hill, and someone would step out of the hanger wearing a necktie and, they would say almost every time he could judge the color of the necktie. and he is up at least 2000 feet, maybe you know to me that tells you something. there is something there.
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>> do you buy it bill? >> i don't know about that. no if i've a question i call bill >> and say what do you think about that. >> so take us quickly i guess july 28th 1943 yankee stadium but they're playing against who? >> well well babe ruth was brought in, and they gave him a choice. they said you could put together your roster. so he blended a team with yankees and the indians together. and it was interesting with the press. as at the time, we said the navy did not want to portray ted williams out there having a good time playing too much baseball. so they said we're going to have this game at the end of july and the pilots will come up from chapel hill but ted will not be here. but i will tell you that he did ultimately did make it to the
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game. it was just one of the special days, from what i understand, the players and the press bought tickets. they were trying to raise money for war relief and the american red cross and they hoped to fill the stadium but of course they did not but it was an afternoon game and people came after the factory shifts. and i look at these and it is one of these all american moments where everybody came in the press came, and everybody was happy to be alive. and they have a brass band there so again it was one of those all american moments where people volunteer their time and of course the great ted williams was there. and really a full major league roster and again you have to really read more about the story to get the final score but again it was a wonderful moment in the war. >> you know it is stunning to me, and there is an iconic
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picture of them sitting and talking with each other and i believe it was taken at the yankee stadium game, but for me what is stunning is that within five years, babe ruth was dead. he died so young. i know when you have an expensive host, he tends to eat up sometime, so let me know if we need to wrap up soon, because there are some other quick topics that i would like to touch on so are we doing? now >> we have five minutes or so, i think that would be great. >> okay so let's quickly, i want to turn to the story because i think it's a story that is often overlooked, it's the story of earl johnson, a
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red sox pitcher. who ended up engaging in 199 eight consecutive games. i think i read that in your book, of combat and he landed on omaha beach in normandy, but tell us a little bit about earl johnson story. >> he was the pitcher for the red sox in the early forties, he had had some success early in his career. and he pitched back-to-back games where he threw over 170 pitches. and he was never the same. he was enlisted in the army as part of the 120th infantry. he landed in normandy, and he fought for 199 straight days including the battle of the bulge. he fought in zero degree temperatures
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twice, he had bullets that went through his clothing one in his pants. and he received the on-field promotions twice, received the bronze star and the silver star, and he's just a real hero. good he comes back from fighting, and his arm is never the same, so he becomes a relief pitcher for the red sox. but interestingly, fought fighting in war puts everything in order. so every time he comes to the bullpen, come he finds it difficult and they don't understand it, but he says from after everything i saw baseball is mostly fun. >> there's a great biography of him, and now he was talking about 36 men in his platoon only 11 survive the war. >> and you know i thought you're going to tell the story, good that earl would tell about himself, in taking out that
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tank unit. and didn't he make some comment, about his aim with grenades, was less than up to the task? >> he had somebody else in the platoon that through better than he did actually, to so see. >> you know i mentioned, i think i mentioned briefly, warren spahn was end up winning 360 games, and going to the hall of fame, after pitching a couple of decades for the braves, he was actually caught he was a combat engineer, serving in germany, near the end of the war. where he was, actually his unit was trying to save the bridge, and my aunt had lived in -- in germany, and it was the only bridge that the ninth army, could cross across the rhine, and take its final advance on berlin. and can he was wounded, he was hit by some shrapnel, but he lived to tell about it. there are a number of
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guys who did come back, and suffered from the effects of having served in combat. so who are some of those other red sox players that we should know about? >> we'll, call three bat boys and clubhouse boys, were wounded in more. call a previous red sox manager was killed and more, manager of the braves, and earnest forward, mueller league player, in the program, he was hit with a bayonet in southeast asia. he returned and recovered, and instead of going home to watertown, he really listed and
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died when a parachute gave way when he was trying to land. charlie wagner had malaria, another -- had shrunk an inch from the war. it went from bad boys to superstars, but talking about that generation and doing whatever was necessary for this country. >> and of course, the war ends. and the joyous occasion of opening day in 1946. you know because we are running out of time, michael you may just want to include those in your final comments. but bill i wonder, if we can draw any parallels between the role baseball played, in world war ii, and
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the role that baseball is playing now in this pandemic? >> i don't know, it is hard to get a sense of what's falling baseball actually has right now can the season, was a huge -- before began. there are so many other concerns. we're also in a presidential election year for sake of argument. for instance. and all that could not was not there during world war ii. but one thought that was impressive, the way some of these guys, charlie wagner had suffered as you said, but ted williams had a triple crown year in nineteen forty two, despite all the controversy about his enlistment or non enlistment. could another player had 200 hits, and ted came back and had a great year in 1946. there is a whole book about that here. and then there's another triple crown year in 1947. it's not as though, you know these guys at least two of them did really well before and after the war. >> michael, describe for us if
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you will, opening day in 46, with the red sox open on the road, and ted was sick as a dog would happened? >> they are playing in washington, at the stadium and ted has a respiratory deficiency, and the manager and trainers tell not to play, but he decides to show up at the park. he takes six swings, he gets four home runs, tells him he's playing. but this is really the coming out party because with baseball, they came to the parks to celebrate. and this game in this game harry truman throughout the first pitch can and after that. game, it was the first mention of ted williams, maybe being the greatest hitter of all times. so what was special integrity when ted stepped on home plate, all the wheelchairs on the apron and all the wounded veterans, that we're sitting in the front row of that gain, and it was really symbolic of those times. the heroes on the baseball field,
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heroes at war, and everyone coming together to celebrate the sacrifice of this great country. >> anne as part of your research, and i think you mentioned this, you've been interviewing the last of the survivors of world war ii. so what has that experience been like?
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>> it has been wonderful, very rewarding, and bill has been enormous in this effort, but one of my favorites is andy robertson from texas. i interviewed him, and i interviewed him early when it broken out and they are fearless, they are exactly like these guys we are describing. there's some core values, fearless, resilient, they see the other side of this because they say, i knew people who died. i remember polio. we have gone through the war, we went through 9/11, we will get through this and they are very optimistic. but i asked them, are you worried. you are in your late 90s? and he said no, we are going to get through this. it is a joy. i come away from this and if there's anything we can do we can just spread some joy and hope for the next generation and the whole country to get through this. i know you have some comments on this, from the guys that you've interviewed. >> thanks for introducing me to this whole subject. >> you never disappoint. >> one of the people she mentioned to me was al naples, he was from massachusetts, he played in the major league's later on. but there is a famous time when babe ruth came to fenway park for an exhibition game and some soldiers came in, and he was one of them. as it happens he hit the winning hit. and it was off the wall of fenway, and he said it easily could've been a double but he didn't realize it at the time. he thought it might get caught.
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he did not round first base fast enough so he pulled up at first. in retrospect, he's so glad he did because the first base coach was babe ruth who put his arm around him and said, way to go kid. when they told me that story last year, it was like he was a kid again. who wouldn't be excited by babe ruth congratulating you? you won the game as it turns out. they had to play at the bottom of the night, but still. >> they are amazing people and think those memories are crystal clear. and it's like, i knew babe ruth, of course i remember. it is just great. >> those are wonderful stories, panelists if you will indulge me and stick around a little bit, i think gavin and maybe sara have some questions they want to keep up with. it's all yours. >> thank you, just to remind the audience, if you'd like to
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ask a question there's a cue a day function and we will read as many as we can. one question that came in says, it is often said players were not major league talent were elevated during the war. the famous one armed pete gray of the brown to be an example of this. how did this dilution of talent impact the red sox? >> joy to take a shot at that? >> those years were tough years. that make do with people coming and going. i think michael might want to mention something about bobby, one point there. they had to make do with players that are not the prime talents. but that is true of the other teams as well. they have this thing called who's on first, and it's a study of replacement players. we look at people who had come in as villains so to speak. a lot of them had pretty interesting stories also. >> some of our fans say you
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could do a sequel to that who's on first book this season. the anonymity our players. speaking of bobby, he was one of the last of the red sox regulars to actually go into the service in 1944. and as you write, joe got ticked off at him cause there's two weeks left in the season and they still had a shot at winning. what happened? >> he was an mvp candidate in 1944, the red sox were desperate to win a pennant as was the manager. when bobby door decided it would be his last game, there were four games out. he was last at bat the entire fenway crowd serenaded him with a song called till we meet again. he now goes home to oregon to put his items in order, but during that time the red sox ended up losing the last 13 of 20 games.
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joe looks to trade him in the off-season but lets his anger spoon out and then keeps him for the other season. >> thank goodness for that. door was a guy that we are happy to keep around. sure. >> what else do you have for us? >> did he open up the doors for african americans and women to play? >> there was the all american girls baseball league, any number of teams had a very successful run for a few years there. and the return of the veterans who had served in world war ii, they took over again. we had a woman from the boston area, mary pratte who just died last year or two. and she was in that. >> the questioner actually
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raises an interesting point, you would not have thought given the shortage of available talent at that time that maybe major league baseball would've tapped into the black race. it was in 1945 under pressure from boston's city councilor, that the red sox finally consented to giving a tryout to jackie robinson, sam jeff throw, and to -- marvin williams. >> three players and jackie had a great day, but essentially the message from the red sox was, don't call us will call you. they never called them even a year later. jackie makes his debut for the montreal royals in the brooklyn dodgers organization and breaks a small color line. i believe there was
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some conversation. bill beck at st. louis at the time gave some consideration to signing african american players. but it did not happen and of course jim crow reared its ugly head well into the sixties. >> we had a question, where there blackout rules along the coast? >> the red sox are not that far from boston harbour. >> nights at fenway park. they only came postwar. >> 1947. >> i believe there were blackout rules on the east coast. >> do you mean on the west coast? >> i meant the east coast. >> there were no major league teams on the west coast. there is that. >> there were submarines that came rather close to the coast of the u.s. on the east coast. >> what did you want to add?
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>> interestingly during the war when phoenix would show up at the stadium before the first pitch was thrown, there were an announcement about how to evacuate yankee stadium. yankee stadium had arrows pointed to hoses and buckets of sand and the players were instructed while the fans evacuated, they were to continue to play and to be soldiers during in a raid on the stadium. so they were ready for anything. >> the 1943 game that i mentioned earlier, i have that game programmed as well. there is an evacuation plan on the back of that program. >> we have a question, don kumar show had three of his best years in the navy but he injured his i would shortened his career. why have the boston sports writers not incorporated him into cooperstown where he belongs?
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>> dominic, certainly one of the greatest advocates for his inclusion into the hall of fame was ted. ted often lobbied for dominic, but i think that certainly a number of fires last prime year of their career. i love dominic as a player, i think in any kind of objective analysis of his career numbers, he probably belongs in the hall of very good rather than the hall of fame. do any of our panelist agree or disagree? >> i agree with that. it's also -- its boston writers that determine this, its national writers. >> simple question, who won the game between babe ruth's
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all-star team and the navy pilots? >> that is all you girl. >> pilots. i won't tell you the score. but it's the pilots. >> if you are not gonna tell us the score, give us a highlight moment in the game. >> oh, gosh. there are so many. i know at the very beginning they said there were over 100 photographers and reporters, they were there at the beginning and then when ted williams came in, people weren't really sure if he was going to be there. they all cheered. and that was just one of those moments. again, it is just a great story. i will tell you that babe ruth, that was his dream to become a manager. he was just thrilled to be there. more details in the book. >> the during the second world war did a one look back at the first world war in 1918 the
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draft was extended to 45-year-old man. they also commented, although the baseball season was shortened they won the season in boston. they were curious about the draft being extended 45 year old men and if there was a reflection of that on the second world war. >> the regular season in 1918 did and on september 1st or second, the world series was completed by september 11th. there was a very real possibility that had the armistice not been signed in november of 1918, 1919 season would very well have been jeopardized. as far as extending the age, that i cannot address. that is above a beyond my pay grade. >> one last question we have time for and then if you have any comments. a person wrote, can you comment on what might
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have been a adjustment period for players returning to war, are there any letters of players having hard time readjusting. prior to ptsd, we understood that there were adjustments that needed to happen for people. but do you have comments on this? >> one thing i would interject i think is that it is certainly baseball and society in general, professional sports did not pay the same kind of attention of mental health issues that we do in contemporary america. i am sure, perhaps michael you can even cite a notable incidents or two where players -- even the story of earl johnson giggling, that is a bit of an aberration, behavioural
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aberration and places into context what guys were dealing with when they came back. >> if you think about harry walker who knocked out a slaughter in game seven. he was with the cardinal's. he had been wounded, he just -- he was protecting a bridge and killed 20 germans. his son was hit by a car right before game seven and ended up dying, think about him stepping ingame 7 and what he had been through in the last 12 to 18 months. and for baseball to end. he had to go home then bury his son and filter and process would have gone on in his life last four years, it's just a world that i cannot even understand existing in processing such information. >> one common i will make, they say, we just did not talk about the war. that's all i can tell you.
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>> i don't know if you had any concluding comments he would like to make. >> i won't sign off before i thank this tremendous panel. you guys were absolutely great. thank you for your insights, thank you for your stories, thank you for your enthusiasm to share those stories. we are lucky to have you. i trust that the audience appreciates it. this presentation was wonderful, and gavin, you know what a big fan i am of the historical society. and peter, sarah, catherine you always treat us so well. thank you, thank you so much. >> i would like to acknowledge one thing. there was at least one player who came through world war ii, did not seek combat and in a sense wondered if he was up to the task. and
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when ted williams was recalled by the marine corps at the time of the korean war, he said, i'm not doing any pr work. if you are calling me back, i want to get into a fighter platoon. he ended up flying 39 combat missions, seven of them with john glen. he was one of the squad mates there. he crash landed on his second mission in 1953. with the landing craft -- they wheels wouldn't come down, he had to skid the plane along the runway and jump out before it burst into flames. he was hit by bullets at least two other times. and he definitely had his day as a true hero. >> thank you all very much, and would you like to have a parting message catherine. >> i'd like to say i've learned more about sports in the last
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hour than i have in all of my years. thank you to everybody out there, thank you to our supporters and thank you to the people who will become our supporters.
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paul goldberg or discusses his book baseball in the american city. i want to thank the library and the library board, jonathan


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