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World War II

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World War II, (aka WWII or The Second World War) was a global military conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945. It was the largest and deadliest war in history. The conventional view is that the war began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi-led Germany invaded Poland. Within two days the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, forming the Allied Powers of Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and others. In September, 1940 Germany, Italy, and Japan signed a mutual defense agreement, the Tripartite Pact, and were known as the Axis Powers. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, forcing the Soviets into the Allied Powers. In December 1941, the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor the United States bringing it too into the war on the Allied side. China also joined the Allies, as eventually did most of the rest of the world. Italy surrendered in September 1943, Germany in May 1945. The surrender of Japan marked the end of the war, on September 2, 1945.

Its major impact on baseball was the fact that many players served in the military during the war years, causing major league talent to be thin during that time. Stars such as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Bob Feller left baseball to serve their country during this time. Some American players and many Japanese players lost their life, including the most famous Japanese player of the era, Eiji Sawamura.

Other consequences of World War II included a reduction in number of minor leagues and restrictions on teams heading south for spring training. One positive effect of the war was the formation of the women's AAGPBL, which was designed to fill the baseball void for fans.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Gary Bedingfield: Baseball's Dead of World War II: A Roster of Professional Baseball Players Who Died in Service, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010.
  • Steven R. Bullock: Playing for Their Nation: Baseball and the American Military during World War II, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2004.
  • David Finoli: For the Good of the Country: World War II Baseball in the Major and Minor Leagues, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2002.
  • William B. Mead: Even the Browns: Baseball During World War II, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY, 2010 (originally published in 1978).

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