Baseball in the 1940s

Jackie Robinson

Baseball experienced an amazing transformation from the beginning of the 1940s to the end of the 40s.

In 1940, the game was played in daylight by Caucasian players. By 1949 games were being played at night, with African-American players in the same major league.

As always, the decade wasn’t short on stars. Guys like Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Bob Feller all earned their stripes on the field, but they also earned them off the field.

When the United States entered World War II, she took a lot of her baseball players (and other athletes) off to war too. At times, Major League Baseball felt like it was being reduced to a circus sideshow because so many of the good players were gone.

Joe Dimaggio Enlisting for WWII

Joe Dimaggio Enlisting for WWII

But when they came back in 1946, baseball had begun to emerge from its cocoon of segregation as Branch Rickey did the unthinkable — he signed an African-American to a Major League Baseball team.

Racist-charged energy filled up the stadiums that Robinson played, but he kept on. Eventually more African-American players would join other teams, and surely nothing can be said for the struggle that they all went through, but their struggle did not go in vain — as baseball would be better than ever before with everybody playing together.

The Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals had a stranglehold on the National League during most of the 1940s. The last player to bat over .400 was Ted Williams, in 1941 when he batted .406.

List of World Series Winners in the 1940s

Year

Winning Team

Series

Losing Team

1940

Cincinnati Reds (NL)

4–3

Detroit Tigers (AL)

1941

New York Yankees (AL)

4–1

1942

St. Louis Cardinals (NL)

4–1

New York Yankees (AL)

1943

New York Yankees (AL)

4–1

St. Louis Cardinals (NL)

1944

St. Louis Cardinals (NL)

4–2

St. Louis Browns (AL)

1945

Detroit Tigers (AL)

4–3

Chicago Cubs (NL)

1946

St. Louis Cardinals (NL)

4–3

Boston Red Sox (AL)

1947

New York Yankees (AL)

4–3

Brooklyn Dodgers (NL)

1948

Cleveland Indians (AL)

4–2

Boston Braves (NL)

1949

New York Yankees (AL)

4–1

Brooklyn Dodgers (NL)

List of National League MVPs in the 1940s

1940Frank McCormickCincinnati1BR
1941Dolph CamilliBrooklyn1BL
1942Mort CooperSt. LouisPR
1943Stan MusialSt. LouisOFL
1944Marty MarionSt. LouisSSR
1945Phil CavarrettaChicago1BL
1946Stan MusialSt. Louis1BL
1947Bob ElliottBoston3BR
1948Stan MusialSt. LouisOFL
1949Jackie RobinsonBrooklyn2BR

List of American League MVPs in the 1940s

1940Hank GreenbergDetroitOF
1941Joe DiMaggioNew YorkOF
1942Joe GordonNew York2B
1943Spud ChandlerNew YorkP
1944Hal NewhouserDetroitP
1945Hal NewhouserDetroitP
1946Ted WilliamsBostonOF
1947Joe DiMaggioNew YorkOF
1948Lou BoudreauClevelandSS
1949Ted WilliamsBostonOF

Browse 1940s Baseball by Year

Bucky Walters & Paul Derringer of the 1940 Cincinnati Reds

Baseball in 1940

The Cincinnati Reds were the only team to win 100 games in 1940. Hope they enjoyed it, because that was their last championship for the next 35 years.
Joe DiMaggio in 1941, The Year of the Streak

Baseball in 1941

1941 is best remembered now as the season that Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games, which is considered the most unreachable record of all-time.
Spud Chandler, 1943 AL MVP

Baseball in 1943

There were 347 major league players and 2,915 from the minors serving in the armed forces, but baseball moved along -- just as exciting as ever.
Ted Williams was one hit away from the Triple Crown in 1949

Baseball in 1949

In 1949, both the AL & NL pennant races went down to the last day of the season. Ted Williams missed winning the triple crown by .0002 percentage points.

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Last modified: Aug 09, 2013 | Written by Paul Phipps