Mitch McConnell To Rob Manfred: Play Ball!

Boost the nation’s spirits.

Politically speaking no one will ever confuse President Franklin Roosevelt with United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But Franklin Roosevelt and Mitch McConnell do have one baseball thing in common. During bad times, baseball can raise people’s spirits. McConnell wants to see baseball as the United States and the world battles COVID-19 just as FDR wanted to see baseball in 1942 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and America entered World War II on December 7, 1941. Last week McConnell said during an interview with a Louisville, Kentucky radio station that he called Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred urging Manfred to get games going. “I called the commissioner of baseball a couple of weeks ago and I said, ‘America needs baseball. It’s the sign of getting back to normal. Any chance?’ It would be a great morale booster for the country and an indication that we’re going to begin to get back to normal.”

MLB has all sorts of plans to stage games in 2020 but has not be able to implement any of the schemes. In 1942, Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote a letter to Roosevelt asking what should baseball do? Should the game shutdown for the duration of the war? FDR responded quickly in what became known as the Green Light Letter. Roosevelt wrote Landis that baseball should go on during World War II. “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.” Major League Baseball played four seasons of wartime baseball. College football did stop during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

Volunteer vendor Bob Craig sells a spring training baseball program to Ronnie and Memorie Williams, of Amarillo, Texas, before an announcement of the cancellation of the baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Surprise, Ariz. Major League Baseball is delaying the start of its season by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak and has suspended the rest of its spring training game schedule. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)