How baseball helped sell record numbers of WWII war bonds

Ruddy Cano Avatar

During WWII, baseball was most renowned as America’s pastime. A three-way game was played in New York City between the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. This game remains the most offbeat game in history. Every participating team had to bat six times in the same nine-inning game against revolving adversaries. When the game came to an end, the Giants scored 0, Yankees 1, and Dodgers 5, making the United States Government $56.5 million richer in war bond trades.

Funding in WWII

Now that the US government had collected more money from their war bond sales, they could pay a median income of about $2,000 yearly. This amount was like nothing ever seen in the 1940s because the average pay was just 85 cents an hour in leading industries. Most workers tried to get 15 cents an hour or more so they could meet their daily needs. America asked 134 million people to help pay for the war effort through purchasing war bonds. If someone could not afford the war bonds they were asked to purchase stamps. 

dodgers baseball
(Wikimedia Commons)

In turn, the stamps were traded and then saved to buy war bonds. From the highest-ranking to the lowest, everyone in the country pleaded with Americans to purchase war bonds, which were a series of E bonds. Since the war bonds trade was a massive event, a War Finance Committee was appointed to supervise the sale of these bonds. This committee had a responsibility to determine who was going to finance the campaign’s advertisement. It was clear that funding advertisements would cost too much — a sum the government was not ready to shoulder.

And so, in conjunction with the government, private companies formed advertisements. Organizations made war bonds feel more patriotic than ever through advertising. The war bond campaign succeeded as the advertising was effective. More than 90% of Americans were aware of the War Bond Payroll Savings Plans.

baseball ted williams
Ted Williams being sworn into the military on May 22, 1942. (Wikimedia Commons)

The impact of baseball in WWII

When thinking about the financial miracles of WWII, the influence of baseball on the US is likely the first topic on your mind. Although the sport did not have a significant impact like prominent leaders or battles, it highly contributed to the home front and raised American morale. During this painful period, youth were obligated to fight in the war, and all Americans were required to make sacrifices. One thing remained constant, and it was that Major League Baseball entertained people of all ages. The game was played throughout the war thanks to President Roosevelt’s Green Light Letter.

The game’s level of play dropped drastically during the war, but surprisingly its popularity increased, depicting the country’s love of baseball as their uniting factor. The president allowed baseball to proceed during the war period because it heightened the American spirit. It gave the working-class time to relax and get their minds of work. The majority of the citizens preferred to watch night games because they worked more to support the war effort during the day.

Before WWII commenced, Major League Baseball enjoyed record popularity. Some Major League Baseball players joined the military service, endured equipment substitutions, and created war relief programs to motivate Americans. While most writers focus on how WWII benefited from baseball, few have written on how the team owners benefited from little to no government regulation. It was a win-win situation for all sides. Nonetheless, the fact remains that baseball helped sell record numbers of WWII war bonds to support the war effort.