I mentioned in the Liveball Era article that over 500 MLB players served in WWII. Those gaps are a lot more apparent in many of the post-war players. Not only did players miss years (like Ted Williams), but they also had partial seasons due to service in the military. With so many players going off to serve, the quality of the Major Leagues dropped, and scoring dropped as a result. While I’m jumping from the Liveball Era to the Post-War Era, please keep in mind that players on the edges were more likely to be affected by the war.
If anyone has a full list of players that served, and the years they served, I would love to add that information to the charts to make the impact more obvious.
After the war, baseball started to change again. In 1947, Jackie Robinson was the first black player since the 19th century to play in the National League. He was joined 11 weeks later by Larry Doby in the American League, and baseball started integrating. 1947 also saw the first televised World Series. Baseball’s popularity soared after the war. During the Liveball Era it had been relatively stable, but the end of the war brought far more spectators than ever:
I don’t know what caused it. There were no new teams, stadiums weren’t really holding more people than they did before, but more people were coming to see the games. It could have been post-war bliss, TV increasing baseball’s visibility, integration, or just the great players from this era like Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Mickey Mantle.
Part of it had to do with the relocation of teams. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953. The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954 and became the Baltimore Orioles. The Philadelphia Athletics became the Westernmost team in the Majors when they moved to Kansas City in 1955. In
1957 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers were moved to the West Coast along with the New York Giants to become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants.
Editor’s note: Night games spread to 15 out of 16 teams (the Cubs being the sole exception) by 1949. I’ll bet you that had something to do with the increase.
Regardless of the reason, the Post-War Era’s increase in popularity led MLB to expand during the 60′s Expansion era, which we will cover next.
If we had to do it all over again, who would we elect from this time period? If you had a ballot, who would you vote for?
Player list (career WAR in parentheses):
- Fangraphs Career WAR Leaders