AH: “Better settled with bats and balls than guns and bullets” - Baseball during the cold war

Introduction
Baseball. Before World War 2 it was considered to mainly be a game for Americans. Some foreigners just believed it to be a game that foolish Americans played with sticks. But it was a cultural mainstay in America. Almost any part of America had intertwined in some way with baseball.

But a German man with a mustache took power in Germany and began his attempt at conquering Europe. After pearl harbor, many Americans headed off to fight the war, many bringing bats and balls with them for entertainment. Soon they would teach the game to British troops, Soviet troops, and exiled French troops to help pass the time while waiting for orders. All those soldiers fell in love with the game and eventually brought it home with them, creating amateur baseball leagues and teaching everyone the game the best they could. The game began to get more and more popular around the world.

Americans returned home to once again cheer for their favorite MLB teams and boo their rivals. Baseball remained much of the same there for a while. Popularity of Baseball grew the quickest in Britain, with discussions of opening a baseball league starting as soon as 1946. France began the process of opening their own league in 1947. The MLB stated in late 1947: “We have no concerns about either league taking anything from us, as they are not based in the United States.”

However, the Soviets began to make public talk of opening up a baseball league run by the Kremlin. That thought rubbed many Americans the wrong way, as tensions between the two powerhouse nations were already building.

In late 1948, businessmen in Britain and France announced plans to start baseball leagues in their respective nations. They would both launch in 1950. In mid 1949 however, the Kremlin announced the Kremlin Baseball League, or the KBL for short. It would be launched in 1952. While this pissed off America entirely, they agreed to have a meeting with the other 3 league owners in Stockholm, Sweden. Joseph Stalin would be present as the owner of the KBL.

They met to agree on terms, two of the most important being that the leagues would not trade players with each other and that each league would only have 2 minor league affiliates: a Prospects League and a Secondary Prospects League. The most important though, was that there would be a yearly baseball between all nations in the world. It would be named the World Baseball Tournament, and the idea was conceived due to the lack of baseball in the olympics.

There was no doubt that the main focus of many would be here. This would be what many would use to determine which nation was truly the best in baseball. And so, with everything in place, the British Baseball Association (BBA) and the Ligue française de baseball, or French Baseball League (FBL), made their debuts in 1950.

The BBA would begin with 6 teams and a regular-season only points format, meaning playoffs would not be held. They would use a 145-game schedule.

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(side note, yes I am using OOTP 22 to simulate this all)

The FBL would have 8 teams separated into 2 sub leagues, with a 172 game schedule. Playoffs would be held after the regular season ended, much like the MLB.

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As a tribute to D-Day, a team was placed in Normandy named the Overlords, which is spiraled off of the codename for D-Day, Operation Overlord.

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Inaugural drafts for both the FBL and the BBA took place on March 12th, 1950. In the FBL, Normandy was the clear favorite to do something remarkable that year due to the sheer starpower they were able to draft.

The BBA seemed to have a competitive season ahead of them, with starpower evenly distributed.

And so, with fans in both countries eager to finally be able to have their very own professional baseball leagues, baseball frenzy set in just in time to begin the season.
 
Very interesting. But I don't think the Soviets would name their league after the Kremin. More likely it would be something like " The Soviet Socialist Peoples League". If Baseball say spread to the rest of the Warsaw pact and other allied countries I could sort of see the Soviets running a " International Socialist People's Game" involving all of the Communist nations going in for a championship game.
 
Very interesting. But I don't think the Soviets would name their league after the Kremin. More likely it would be something like " The Soviet Socialist Peoples League". If Baseball say spread to the rest of the Warsaw pact and other allied countries I could sort of see the Soviets running a " International Socialist People's Game" involving all of the Communist nations going in for a championship game.
that's fair enough, may do that instead
 
that's fair enough, may do that instead
For naming and structure check out the OTL post war Soviet governmental department soccer teams. Post war for a while the different Soviet agencies/services had their own official soccer teams which would compete against each other. They were extremely profitable and a track record of wins could really help departments/sections get more funding.

This resulted in insanity like say the NKVD and Soviet Air force having their own teams. And Stalin's son (who was a general and head of the air forces soccer program) got his eyes on a particularly well regarded Soccer coach who was at that moment in a NKVD prison camp. So the younger Stalin and a squad of armed Air Force goons literally stormed the prison camp to kidnap the coach so he could coach their team. The NKVD responded to this insult by doing the exact same thing and having an armed squad steal the Coach back from the Airforce so he could be Coach of the NKVD team. This was followed by multiple rounds of the airforce and NKVD kidnapping the coach from each other so their teams could be better. Eventually the poor Coach ended up just begging to be sent back to the Gulag.

So instead of having say cities have teams might be a better idea for say state departments (the red army, Airforce, Navy, NKVD/KGB) and say very large state owned enterprises factories end up having their own competing teams.
 

They still exist but were for decades under the Soviets controlled by and the official open public "KGB/NVKD" soccer team.

Which sounds strange to an American ear. Nobody would expect the CIA to have their own official public major league Football/Baseball team.
 
The heck are you talking about, never heard of "army- navy" game.

True but the Navy doesn't play say the Steelers or the Ravens. It's not a professional NFL team.

I mean does the Army or Navy team even play other College Teams?

And the idea of the official CIA team the " Spooks" playing in the Superbowl sounds insane.
 
Rounders is a predominantly female game, not going to get any traction.
On the other hand WW2 did help spread a lot of American cultural artifacts, foodstuffs, and slang. Say Coca Cola did have international subsidiaries but WW2 helped make it a house hold name across much of the world.
 
Netball suffers from the same issue, both played by girls in schools...

I mean I agree it's somewhat unlikely. But WW2 (and the presence of American troops and aid) did spread a lot of American things. And baseball had earlier spread to Japan (which still is fanatical about baseball) which was relatively anti American at the time and grew more so until WW2 happened. I mean during the 20's a Major American baseball figure was visiting Japan and was invited to attend a ball game (in Tokyo I believe). This absolutely infuriated a number of ultra nationalists who (ironically) considered Baseball to be an almost holy Japanese cultural event and were insulted that an American would befoul the stadium. So they planned to assassinate him (though I think the plot got foiled).

If a strongly anti American country can fanatically adopt baseball why not the UK or France? The Soviet Union is more unlikely but possible.

Another interesting concepts is what other stridently American things could spread and be widely adopting abroad that weren't in OTL.
 
it's just not cricket, old bean!

Which makes me wonder if a larger WW2 American presence in India could lead to the adoption of Baseball (taking much of the wind from Cricket). Perhaps partially as a nationalist measure to abandon a "Relic of British Imperialism". Probably made easier if baseball is also adopted by the Soviets.
 
mean does the Army or Navy team even play other College Teams?
And the idea of the official CIA team the " Spooks" playing in the Superbowl sounds insane.
So the cia are egoists ?(Isn't that generally left landing

Then what would the FBI do,

Dang it their rivalry in baseball Would be there stuff of legends,

Honestly it a be great propaganda,
"They would never pull off for the coup ,They're such good at baseball That they shouldn't have the time"
"The CIA ar our friends and I support their baseball efforts 'merica!"


At this point branch would attempt to create their teams(
I hope professional)

-Imagine the IRS doing this
- Imagine air force and marines baseball(Who am I kidding it's probably football)

Heck they could use the funds for their department And bonus
For agents And higher ups.
 
If it becomes this popular in western and eastern Europe, I suspect you might see it fast tracked as an official Olympics Sport. 1948 perhaps would be a bit too early? 1952 for sure. And it probably has the spread to avoid being voted out in the 21st century, assuming it continues to spread in Asia as OTL.
 
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So the cia are egoists ?(Isn't that generally left landing

Then what would the FBI do,

Dang it their rivalry in baseball Would be there stuff of legends,

Honestly it a be great propaganda,
"They would never pull off for the coup ,They're such good at baseball That they shouldn't have the time"
"The CIA ar our friends and I support their baseball efforts 'merica!"


At this point branch would attempt to create their teams(
I hope professional)

-Imagine the IRS doing this
- Imagine air force and marines baseball(Who am I kidding it's probably football)

Heck they could use the funds for their department And bonus
For agents And higher ups.
The IRS Taxmen
"Our Foes Will Pay"
 
If it becomes this popular in western and eastern Europe, I suspect you might see it fast tracked as an official Olympics Sport. 1948 perhaps would be a bit too early? 1952 for sure. And it probably has the spread to avoid being voted out in the 21st century, assuming it continues to spread in Asia as OTL.
that does seem realistic, however my inclusion of the annual world baseball tournament would probably interfere with that
 
also, i regret to inform everyone, but windows broke on me, so i have to reset my computer. i’ll try to set everything up in OOTP 22 as i had it, but it might take a bit.
 
further wonderful news, OOTP 22 refuses to work now. this'll be on hiatus until i figure this out. might just have to do this on OOTP 20 because i have it installed on the family mac rather than windows.
 
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1950 Regular Season
1950 Regular Season
The first game in FBL history took place at 1:05 PM local time on March 18th, 1950, with Normandy hosting Rennes. They would win 2-3 with a walk-off win in the 10th. In the BBA, the first game also ended with a walk-off, but much more wild.

With 2 outs, an intentional walk was issued to Alexander Baxter of London, making him the only baserunner as London was down 2-3. Sheffield then brought in the first and only reliever of the game, Brennan Carmichael. Harrison Dixon was next up, and he delivered a single to right field that brought Baxter to 3rd. Next, Jordan Lambert came up and tied the game on a line drive to left field, which scored Baxter. Danny Dunlop was walked, which meant the bases were loaded. Carmichael was clearly feeling nerves, as he gave 2 straight balls to Dunlop before throwing one so wide of the catcher, that all the Sheffield players began walking off the field before the winning run scored for London. The London players would not have even believed this could happen just a little bit ago, so they were understandably the happiest men in the world mobbing home plate. The final score was London 4, Sheffield 3.

This is the FBL by June 1st:

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I know that image may be a bit hard to see without the ability to zoom in, so here’s the essentials of what’s on there:

  1. The two subleagues are somehow performing entirely differently. The first subleague has a very close race to be the winner, while the second subleague is pretty much just Normandy dominating everyone into submission. Keep in mind I currently have interleague play off, so Normandy is just continuously playing against those 3.
  2. The first subleague is dominated by pitchers, while the second subleague is dominated by hitters. Here’s an example: while the lowest batting average of the top 6 averages in the first subleague is just .283, the second subleague has one of .354 as their lowest of the top 6. In pitching, the highest ERA of the top 6 in the first subleague is a solid 2.80, the highest of the top 6 in the second subleague is a very high 4.43.

Many fans of French baseball at the time look at this and are astounded as to how this could happen. Everyone came from the same inaugural draft pool, how could the numbers be this entirely different? The fanbase grew in size and split itself into two factions: the ones that loved hitting, which followed the second subleague, and the ones that loved pitching, which followed the first sub league. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that these two factions would fight come championship time.

The BBA seemed to be mostly competitive, with all teams still being in the race for the championship after 2 months of play.

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Here are the BBA stat leaders after those 2 months:

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(excuse the lack of the more uncommon stat categories, am watching the SRX race at Stafford while writing this so i’m just on laptop mode rather than the enormous desktop monitor, and i’d rather not take a million screenshots just for those categories)

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The MLB brought all-around competitiveness, with a 4 (and kinda but not really 5) team competition for the AL lead, while the NL brought an even tighter 6 team race (and also kinda but not really 7 teams)
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Ewell Blackwell at this point is having the best season in his career, bringing back the domination he had in 1947 (which he was never able to do in real life).

On June 14th, both leagues of the FBL selected their all-star teams and headed to Paris Fields, and played their all-star game in front of a capacity crowd of 4,400. It would be batting vs. pitching, right? Well…

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It seemed pitching did not help, as their pitching gave up 6 runs on 14 hits, not a good look. And the batting had the best pitching. A humiliating defeat for sub league 2 fans, they looked forward to getting their revenge in the French Championship Series.

The MLB all-star game was very competitive with an exciting finish.

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