The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: 1949 sports

Table of Contents

Sports

Wilson Sporting Goods agrees May 29 to sponsor formation of a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA); it will become an officially chartered organization next year. Georgia-born golfer (Mae) Louise Suggs, 25, is a founding member of the LPGA and wins the U.S. Women’s Open, finishing 14 strokes ahead of Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Golfer Sam Snead wins his first Masters Tournament, his second PGA title, and the Vardon Trophy that he will win again next year.

Georgia-born prizefighter Ezzard Charles, 27, gains the world heavyweight championship June 22 by winning a 15-round decision over Joe Walcott at Chicago following the retirement of Joe Louis March 1.

Ted Schroeder wins in men’s singles at Wimbledon, Louise Brough in women’s singles; Pancho Gonzalez wins in men’s singles at Forest Hills, Mrs. duPont in women’s singles.

The New York Yankees win the World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 4 games to 1.

World War II had its effect on sports as all able-bodied men between 18 and 26 were expected to serve in the military.  Rubber went to the war effort; consequently, balls were soggy and unresponsive.  Wood was in short supply, leading to a shortage of baseball bats and bowling pins.  Even so, professional sports were encouraged to continue, to improve the morale of the troops.  President Roosevelt signed the Green Light letter, supporting baseball.  Baseball games were considered so important to troop morale that the Japanese tried to jam radio broadcasts.  By 1943, half the baseball players had enlisted.  Teams used older veterans and even a one-armed outfielder, Pete Gray of the St. Louis Browns.  In the All-American Girls Baseball League, players wore dresses and had to attend charm school.  After the war, television and easier transportation changed the face of American sports.  In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black professional baseball player – in fact, the first black professional athlete outside of boxing.  Baseball players negotiated for a minimum salary of $5500 a year.  By 1950, the top earning player, Stan Musial, was making $50,000. Postwar baseball names included Ted Williams, Ralph Kiner and Joe DiMaggio.

High School football team. Notice the padding and helmets.The 1940’s were the heyday of boxing.  Boxing was big money, mainly because of gambling, and was ruled by gangland boxing czar Frankie CarboJoe Louis was the heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1948, in part because major boxing titles were frozen from 1941 to 1946 ad four thousand professional boxers joined the military.  Louis not only enlisted, he donated over $100,000 to war relief efforts in 1942.  Sugar Ray Robinson, Ike Williams and Willie Pep were other big names in boxing.  The Indianapolis 500 was closed duirng the war and the racetrack deteriorated.  In the first postwar race in 1946, twenty-four cars dropped out due to wrecks and mechanical difficulties.  NASCAR, a stock car racing club that purportedly ran cars that you could buy from a dealer’s showroom started the Grand Nationals in 1949.

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