Rare Books and Manuscripts staff has assembled a unique new exhibit in our Reading Room this autumn. Join us as we look back to the partnership between Major League Baseball and the USO that brought America’s national pastime to our troops serving in remote regions of Vietnam 50 years ago.
Shortly after the 1968 World Series, “The Major League All-Star Special,” a wartime goodwill trip, transported MLB greats more than 8,000 miles from home to boost soldiers’ spirits. The St. Louis Cardinals were represented by General Manager Bing Devine and Al Fleishman, public relations consultant and confidante to Cardinals President August A. Busch. Veteran MLB players who made the tip included Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, Pete Richert of the Baltimore Orioles, retired ballplayer, Larry Jackson of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Ron Swoboda of the New York Mets.
On November 4, the group, accompanied by 160 GIs, departed San Francisco on a charter flight routed for Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon. In order to maximize their visit, they divided in half. Fleishman, Banks, and Richert traveled north while Devine, Jackson and Swoboda toured south. They traveled by helicopter to reach inaccessible mountain top locations, visited wounded soldiers in hospitals, and toured Army bases and ships stationed on the Mekong Delta. The All-Stars naturally connected with the soldiers in pick-up games of baseball and conversations about life back home.
The display is culled from materials from the Alfred Fleishman Papers. Fleishman, a public relations expert and principal at Fleishman-Hillard, represented the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Club as well as a number of other firms locally and nationally. The papers document Fleishman’s personal and professional life in St. Louis and abroad. The collection contains correspondence, photos, scrapbooks, publications, etc.
Among Fleishman’s many talents was his love of photography; he always traveled with his camera. He was an amateur photographer actively documenting his travels, walks, and projects. He readily shared his photos with colleagues and clients and regularly sent them photos and accompanying newspaper clippings.
For inquiries into the Alfred Fleishman Papers please call 314-539-0370 and ask for Kris Impastato. We look forward to hearing from you.