Year In Review : 1942 National League
Off the field...
Under Executive Order 9066, more than 120,000 Japanese and persons of Japanese ancestry living in western U.S. were moved to "relocation centers," (some for the duration of the war). After voluntary evacuation was prohibited, the Army forcibly moved approximately 110,000 evacuees, most of whom were American citizens, to ten relocation centers in the Western states. Smaller numbers of Germans, Italians, and other nationalities were also forcibly relocated. Although food and shelter was provided and wages were paid to those who wished to work, living conditions were poor and induced several uprisings.
The worst nightclub fire disaster in history occurred when the infamous Coconut Grove of Boston caught fire claiming the lives of four-hundred ninety-two patrons and injuring one-hundred sixty-six others. It is believed that the fire originally started in the Melody Lounge when a sixteen-year-old bar boy named Stanley Tomaszewski, lit a match to replace a light bulb that had been removed by a patron. What exactly happened next is still unclear, but artificial palm trees and drapery quickly caught fire and it took only fifteen minutes for flames to engulf the entire building.
In the American League...
Boston Red Sox slugger and American patriot Ted Williams enlisted in the military as a Naval aviator on June 2nd. He was able to finish the season, as did many other players who enlisted or were awaiting the draft, which moved at a very slow pace despite the early discouragements of the war. American League regulars who were also enlisted at the time included Johnny Rigney, Joe Grace, Johnny Berardino, Cecil Travis, Bob Feller, Pat Mullin, Buddy Lewis, Sam Chapman and Johnny Sturm.
On June 6th, Gene Stack of the Chicago White Sox became the first Major League draftee to die on active duty after suffering a heart attack following an Army ball game.
The New York Yankees infield combined to turn seven double plays (a Major League record) during an August 14th, 11-2 massacre over the Philadelphia Athletics. All-Star catcher Bill Dickey gunned down two runners following third strikes and Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Murphy and Red Rolfe combined on five others. The Yankees went on to finish the season with one-hundred ninety double-plays just missing their previous record of one-hundred ninety-four that was set in '41.
In the National League...
Boston Braves ace Jim Tobin became the only Major League pitcher ever to hit three successive home runs during a May 13th, 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Braves Field. His last round tripper (in the eighth) broke a 4-4 tie and set the momentum for a win.
On June 19th, Boston Braves slugger Paul Waner joined Cap Anson and Honus Wagner as the only National League players to tally over three-thousand hits. The deciding mark came courtesy of visiting pitcher Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On the same day his wife gave birth to a son, Chicago Cubs shortstop Lennie Merullo set a Major League record with four separate errors in the second inning of a nightcap against the Boston Braves. Despite the new father's poor play, the Cubs went on to win 12-8 after losing the first 10-6.
Around the league...
President Roosevelt granted Major League Baseball the go-ahead to play despite the travel and material restrictions of WW II. In his famous "Green Light" letter FDR stated that he honestly felt that it would be in the best interests of the country to keep baseball going. He also encouraged more night baseball games so that war workers could attend, as a well needed distraction.
Major League owners met to discuss the impact of wartime regulations on the 1942 season. Later, it was agreed that each team would be granted fourteen night games with one exception in Washington who was granted twenty-one. It was also determined that two All-Star Games would be played (one with a military All-Star team) and that all curfews for night games would be set with no inning to start after 12:50.
On March 18th, two black players Jackie Robinson and Nate Moreland requested a walk-on tryout with the Chicago White Sox during a spring training session in Pasadena. Manager Jimmie Dykes reluctantly allowed them to work out with the ball club, but dismissed both without an offer.
Baseball's top magazine publication "The Sporting News" published a controversial editorial calling for continued segregation on the ball field and in the stands. The racial column stated that members of each race "prefer to draw their talents from their own ranks and both groups know their crowd psychology and do not care to run the risk of damaging their own game."