#Shortstops: Commissioner Landis’ letter sparked a historic response from FDR
This is an important sentence as it makes clear that baseball is not asking that players be exempted from service-related duties, and thus confirms the patriotic support of a nation at war. The Commissioner is simply asking if the game should continue with whatever resources they can muster. Many ball players, including future Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Hank Greenberg had already set aside their baseball careers to enter military service, and more would soon follow. By 1945, over 500 major leaguers, 4,000 minor league players, and 230 Negro leagues players would serve their nation, in all theaters of the war.
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According to Odell, there were two things which surprised him in this exchange. First, as Landis operated with a very small support staff, his original letter to the President was handwritten, not typed. Not known for his penmanship, the letter was transcribed by the White House staff on a typewriter before being placed on FDR’s desk. This would allow Roosevelt to quickly read the letter and not get bogged down by Landis’ scribble.
Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum