Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 30, 2004
BASEBALL/HISTORY: Alibi Ike

For reasons that are unclear to me, I got a free sample issue in the mail of "At The Yard," a magazine following the minor leagues. What caught my attention was an article on how Dwight Eisenhower apparently told reporters in 1945 that he had played minor league ball under an assumed name ("Wilson") in 1909 when he was 19. Grantland Rice reported that Ike played center field in the Central Kansas League (presumably a fairly low-level minor league), batting .288, scoring 43 runs and stealing 20 bases in a season of a little over 200 at bats. (Here's what little else I could find on this online).

(A side note: am I the only one who thinks Grover Alexander, a Nebraskan who was three years older than the Kansan Eisenhower also entered pro ball in 1909, bore a striking resemblance to Ike?)

Anyway, as the article (not available online, so far as I can tell) points out, Eisenhower abruptly stopped talking about his pro baseball career after that, and with good reason: he played football and baseball at West Point, which he entered in 1911, and to do so he would have had to sign an NCAA eligibility card stating that he had not played professional sports - and if he signed that card falsely, it would be a violation of West Point's honor code, something Ike would not want to admit to once he was embarked on a career in politics. In today's atmosphere, of course, it's unlikely he would have gotten away with this without someone digging this up.

But if there's some enterprising SABR type out there who would like to dig up the old minor league box scores, this sounds like a fun project to look into.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Baseball 2004 • | History | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Very interesting.

Might such an honor code violation have gotten Ike kicked out of West Point? If so, the potential impact on U.S. and world history could have been profound.

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at November 30, 2004 10:37 AM

You should also check into Douglas MacCarthur who played baseball at West Point for one season (his mother made him quit because it interfered with his studies) and who made upgrading the athletic programs at the Point a priority when he ran the joint between wars.

Obviously, Bush 1 also played baseball but at Yale.

Posted by: chris at December 1, 2004 10:46 PM
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