This Week in 1945 (March 1–March 7)
This week during the last year the Cubs went to the World Series…
World War II Rages On…
*Previously neutral Finland declares war on the Axis powers. That’s right, Finland.
*Franklin D. Roosevelt gives what will be his last address to a joint session of Congress, reporting on the Yalta Conference.
*King Michael of Romania gives in to Communist government.
*Philadelphia A’s catcher Harry O’Neill dies at Iwo Jima. He is one of only two Major League baseball players killed in action during World War II.
*Cologne taken by allied armies
*Because of the travel restrictions placed on baseball, the Cubs begin their spring training in French Lick, Indiana. On March 3rd, they gather at Chicago’s Dearborn Train Station to board the train to camp. The train leaves at 9:15 PM that night. Only six players are on it: Pitcher Ed Hanyzewski, minor league pitcher George Hennessy, semi-pro pitcher Al Nusser, former Giants catcher Joe Stephenson, and two young players that had virtually no chance of making the team: Virgil Garriot and Johnny Ostrowski. 11 players from last year’s roster haven’t checked in a single time in the off-season (including many of their key players), and nobody is quite sure where they are. The rest are vowing to make it there sooner or later. Needless to say, Manager Charlie Grimm (photo) is getting a little nervous about the prospects for 1945.
When they arrive in French Lick they find out that last year’s starting outfielder, Dim Dom Dellasandro, has been drafted into the army and won’t be on the team this year.
*PRICE CHECK: Chewing Gum is 12 cents for 3 packs. Chicken costs 41 cents per pound.
In Pop Culture…
*“Dillinger” starring Lawrence Tierney is released. Phillip Yordan will be nominated for best screenplay.
*Superman encounters Batman and Robin for the first time. This occurs on the Mutual Radio Network.
*U.S. Ladies Figure Skating championship won by Gretchen Merrill.
Some current and future celebrities are serving in the Armed Forces and celebrating birthdays this week…
*David Niven turns 35 (photo). He’s a Lt. Colonel in the British Army in Europe, and unlike most Hollywood stars, is actually in a combat zone. His role is top secret. He will never publicly discuss his activities during the War.
*Rex Harrison is 37, but is still serving as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.
*James Doohan turns 25, and is serving as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Canadian Infantry division.
*Ed McMahon celebrates his 22nd birthday in flight school in the USMC.
Meanwhile, back on the homefront…
*Harry Caray turns 31 in St. Louis. He has just secured his dream job. The 1945 season will be his first as the radio announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cub of the week
Hank Wyse is part of the Cubs starting rotation. In 1944 he won 16 games for the Cubs. As spring training begins, however, the Cubs still haven’t heard from him. He won’t show up to camp for another few weeks.
Wyse will have his best season in 1945. He’ll win 22 games, post a 2.68 ERA, and be named to the All-Star team. His results in the World Series, however, will not quite live up to the rest of his outstanding year. When all the stars return next year, Wyse will have one more good year, but in 1947 his famous curveball will lose its bite, and Wyse will lose his spot in the Cubs rotation.