Dear Daddy,

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(I originally wrote in April, 1945) Bepa bought tickets for opening day at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals and won 3-2. On the same day the Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 in Cleveland. It was a great day for Chicago baseball fans.

I’ve been watching baseball games in the newsreels at the movies and playing baseball with the kids in the neighborhood. I’m a pretty good left-handed batter, but there is room for improvement. I learned about bunting today and I’ll try to fool the pitcher the next time I’m up at bat.

I heard a report from a former American Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany who was asked when liberated by troops from the 7th Armored Division: “Who played in the World Series in 1942?” The soldier had to prove he was an American and not a Nazi in disguise. If he guessed wrong three times, he was out. It’s important to know your baseball statistics, Daddy, because when you are finally liberated you may need to answer questions to prove you are a captured American soldier instead of a Nazi spy.

The troops who freed Americans figured out that anyone they met on the road wearing a tattered uniform could be a Nazi and when questioned, only an all-American man would know his baseball scores. After all, baseball is our national pastime.

Another way to determine whether a man was an American or a German was to watch the way he ate. If he cut his food with his right hand, put his knife down and transferred the meat from his left to his right hand, he is an American. If he kept his fork in his left hand and ate his meat prongs down, he is a Nazi German spy. I learned that from the movies when they caught an American spy in Germany while watching him eat.

The good news about the war is that we are winning. We are capturing hundreds of thousands of German soldiers and turning them into Prisoners of War. The shamed Nazi generals don’t want their own German soldiers tortured or killed. They commanded Nazi guards to treat American Prisoners of War better and not threaten to kill them as Hitler ordered. The Germans are good at obeying. Look at what they have done under Hitler’s orders.

Hitler hides in his bunker while American soldiers in the Ninth Army capture Hanover. Vienna fell to the Allies. While Hitler is protected underground, he expects his officers to fight to the death or be executed if they order a retreat. He can’t win this war. It may take more than three strikes, but he’s out. The British Army liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and found 40,000 survivors. Many were able to identify SS guards, who threw away their uniforms and mingled with the crowds. What a bunch of cowards Hitler and his henchmen turned out to be.

Some of our military men are baseball players who traded uniforms to serve in the Armed Forces, including Ted Williams in the Marines, Stan Musial in the Navy and Joe DiMaggio in the Army. I read that in the program. I also learned how to keep score.

We ate hot dogs, drank cola, and nibbled on peanuts, after cracking the shells. I thought there would be gum at Wrigley Field, but it’s still rationed. It was fun being at the ball park, even though the temperature was down to 40 degrees. I jumped up and down and screamed to keep warm. The ballpark is a good place to make a lot of noise. The only part I didn’t like was when Bepa and his friends smoked cigars. Phew.

I hope when the war is finally over, men will enjoy our national pastime playing baseball games instead of war games. I know you managed the Crane College basketball team in 1929 and wanted to play the Loyola champs. Did you also play baseball there? It would be fun to know. I hope to hear from you soon.

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