Game 13: May 28, 1941

“I have tonight issued a proclamation that an unlimited national emergency exists and requires the strengthening of our defense to the extreme limit of our national power and authority,” came the message from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Most of the players gathering at the ballpark had heard most of the FDR’s speech the night before on radio.

But the morning papers in Washington were putting in perspective exactly what the president meant.

The Yankees and Senators had a lot of time to digest the news—on May 28, their contest was supposed to be special: the first night game at Griffith Stadium.

But the topic of discussion at breakfast revolved around the United States’ potential entry into the war in Europe.

Some players pondered the ugly truth: soon they’d be enlisted to the military.

After all, the draft was already in place. Detroit superstar Hank Greenberg was the first big name snatched from a roster. Could the Smiths and Joneses of Major League Baseball be far behind?

Roosevelt’s speech made America’s involvement in the European conflict sound imminent.

But first things first—there was a ballgame at hand. More than 25,000 fans came to see the great Walter Johnson throw out the first pitch. A beam of light at home plate would supposedly be broken by the Big Train’s pitch, activating the lights at cavernous Griffith Stadium.

Johnson’s ceremonial heave was close enough (a technician somewhere in the hidden confines of the park threw a switch). Voila! The Senators’ first night game.

Pesky Sid Hudson was on the mound for the Solons. Having an earned run average at 4.43 was miraculous, considering the sieve of a defense that labored behind him.

Hudson held a 3-0 lead until DiMaggio tripled and scored in the sixth.

Going into the eighth, Hudson held sway with one out, but Charlie Keller’s pinch-hit grand slam proved the difference in a come-from-behind 6-5 win.

Still, Roosevelt’s words were ringing throughout the nation.

“There are some timid ones among us who say that we must preserve peace at any price, lest we lose our liberties forever,” the president had said. “To them I say this: never in the history of the world has a nation lost its democracy by a successful struggle to defend its democracy.”

The president reiterated a line from his 1932 inaugural speech:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Hitler and first-place Cleveland now worried about the Yanks closing in. is the official and authorized Web site of Joe DiMaggio. During the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, it is publishing “Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak,” which follows the daily progress of Joltin’ Joe in 1941 Series Archive.

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