The major sentiment amongst blacks during World War Two was, "if they were good enough to fight in the war for the United States, they were good enough to play baseball for the United States." What would be better than a black athlete beating Hitler’s “Machine” as Jesse Owens did during the Berlin Olympics? Blacks figured that the war would be a stepping stone into major league baseball. Blacks were willing to flock to the industrial cities in the north to continue to run manufacturing plants that aided the war effort.

Since many players either were off fighting the Evil Axis or were injured during combat, there would be a need to fill out the rosters in the major leagues. According to Benjamin Rader, “Blacks hoped that the manifest shortage of good big league players resulting from the war might provide them with opportunities to break the color ban. ‘How do you think I felt when I saw a one-armed [white big league] outfielder?’ exclaimed star black pitcher Chet Brewer.” (Rader; 164). Blacks often picketed outside of stadiums and carried signs that read “I can play in Mexico, but I have to fight in America where I can’t play!” or “If we are able to stop bullets, why not balls?” (Rader;164).

There were various attempts to force teams into filling their rosters with black ballplayers. On April 6, 1945 just six days before President Roosevelt died, “People’s Voice sportswriter Joe Bostic infuriated Branch Rickey by appearing at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ training camp with two black players in tow, for whom he demanded a tryout.” (Rader; 165). Apparently Rickey (who would eventually sign Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, the first African American ballplayer) had no intention of considering the two player, but put them through infield and batting drills. The players were released shortly afterwards, but it was a small step for blacks.

After being approached by a city councilman, the Red Sox agreed to offer a tryout to Sam Jethro (Negro League batting champ in 1944), Marvin Williams, and Jackie Robinson. Unfortunately for the players, the Red Sox never contacted them after the tryouts. As long as Judge Landis was the commissioner of baseball, the unwritten rule concerning the color ban of baseball was to be kept intact. Despite continuous attempts to break into the league, blacks were rejected and Landis continued to deny the fact that there was a color ban. This eventually would change with Landis’ passing.

The next commissioner of baseball was a former governor of Kentucky; A.B. “Happy” Chandler. Chandler was quoted as saying, “If a black boy can make it in Okinawa and Guadicanal, hell, he can make it in baseball.” (Rader;165). This was good news for African Americans who wanted to break into the big leagues. The color barrier would not be broken by Jackie Robinson until three years after the war ended. Despite this fact, blacks made significant steps to break into the big leagues during the war years.

Baseball and America both matured dramatically during World War Two. Each institution was forced to make drastic changes to keep up with the growing world. Each also had to make sacrifices, as both lost men to the war. However, baseball and America both benefited from the war; America was able to lift itself from the Depression while baseball was able to lift itself from Judge Landis’ racist practices. Throughout World War Two, baseball gave birth to heroes on and off the field. Names such as Feller, Spahn, Williams, and DiMaggio were no longer found on lineup cards, but could be heard on morning roll calls in army camps throughout the world. Women in America answered the call for labor in American factories as well as on the baseball field. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was intended to raise the spirits of the country. It accomplished that goal and more. Many of the women became famous for their play on the diamond and would eventually inspire movies to be made about their contributions to the war effort. African Americans improved their standings in American as well as in baseball. Although the gains were small, fighting for the country and attempting to break through baseball’s impassable color barrier were steps taken towards a better nation.