Although Major League Baseball was regarded as necessary for national morale in President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “Green Light Letter,” by 1945, wartime restrictions had taken their toll. The Office of Defense Transportation asked Major League Baseball to reduce travel by at least 25 percent.
At the time, Major League Baseball teams were no farther south or west than St. Louis, and the powers that be ordered that spring training could be held no farther south than the Potomac or Ohio rivers, and no farther west than the Mississippi. The Indians held spring training at Purdue University from 1943-1945.
But that wasn’t enough, so for the first time in its history, the Major League All-Star Game was canceled, after meetings in Cleveland in April 1945. National League President (and future commissioner) Ford Frick said the cancellation of the game scheduled for Fenway Park would lead to a decrease of 500,000 passenger miles. As a consolation, Fenway Park would be the site of the 1946 Mid-Summer Classic.
In its place would be a series of interleague exhibitions, including a game pitting the Indians against their in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, on July 9, 1945, at Cleveland Stadium. Also being played that night were a pair of crosstown rivalries, between the Cubs and White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago, and the Yankees and Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The Pirates, who were scheduled to play the Tigers in an exhibition at Forbes Field, played a military team that night at Fort Indiantown Gap.
Reds manager Bill McKechnie didn’t show up for the exhibition in Cleveland, leaving managerial duties to Gerald Walker – a former Cleveland infielder. Four Indians starters sat the game out: Felix Mackiewicz, Mickey Rocco, Don Ross and Frank Hales. The game was a rout, with the Indians managing just six hits, half of which came off the bat of Dutch Meyer, in a 6-0 shutout.
Indians player/manager Lou Boudreau submitted three players for consideration for the Associated Press All-Star Team: Pitchers Allie Reynolds and Steve Gromek, and catcher Frank Hayes. Ultimately, Boudreau and outfielder Jeff Heath were also named to the AP American League team. It was the only All-Star recognition ever for Gromek, who went 19-9 that year, the most wins he ever had in a season.
A paltry crowd of 6,066 people showed up at Cleveland Stadium. By contrast, more than 47,000 people watched the White Sox edge the Cubs, 5-4, and more than 41,000 saw the Yankees beat the Giants 7-1.