Sports and War.
World War II shaped sports in the 1940s, as it did all of American culture. The sports world did its best to maintain business as usual, but all organized games and contests were disrupted after 7 December 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the disruption continued until well after the end of the war in August 1945. Able-bodied men were expected to serve in the military, and most qualified professional athletes answered the call. Early in 1941 sports stars inducted into the armed forces included baseball player Hank Greenberg and football players Dave Smulker and Chuck Gelatka. By 1945, 509 active major league baseball players had served, some two hundred colleges had disbanded their football teams because players went to war, and four thousand boxers, including five world champions, had joined the military. With the affirmation of President Roosevelt's "green light," urging baseball to continue during wartime as long as eligible players did not avoid the draft, organized sports carried on but with tight budgets and a shortage of players. Still, sports events provided a welcome diversion that boosted the morale of the nation.
No event in the sports world of the 1940s was as important as the breaking of the color barrier in major league baseball in April 1947. When Jackie Robinson played for the...
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