It’s April and baseball is back!!! Americans’ love of baseball can be found throughout the National Air and Space Museum Archives’ collections. Members of the military visited baseball teams to compare equipment and even demonstrated the flexibility of spacesuits on the ball field. Baseball teams began to charter their own flights between games. And everywhere, even on a military base in India, you could find a baseball game! The employees of Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation in Minnesota, in addition to building up to 15 gliders a day for the war effort, developed their own recreational league, which included bowling, basketball, hockey, and, of course, softball teams.
These teams took their league play quite seriously and the employee newsletter Tow Lines published the standings in each issue. The John E. Parker Collection only holds a few issues of Tow Lines, but the August 1943 issue provides insight into the corporation’s softball league. The best team that year was the Stores Gremlins, with a 7-1 record and a .426 team batting average that would put Ted Williams to shame.
The names of the other teams in the league were the Bombers (5-3 record), Accounting (3-5), Question Marks (3-5), and Final Assembly (3-5). The plant affiliations of several of the teams can be inferred from their names, but the Question Marks remain a, well, you know. All of the plant’s recreational teams were provided for by proceeds from candy vending machines. The newsletter cautioned, “Don’t treat ’em too rough, boys, if you enjoy your game of softball.” But candy was definitely not the post-game refreshment of choice.
Get your cold drinks, hot dogs, and Cracker Jack and enjoy this season of baseball!