I...got letters from my old friends back in Kansas City, Hilton (Smith) and (Monarchs co-owners J.L. Wilkinson) and Tom Baird...They kept me appraised of the fortunes - or rather misfortunes - of the Monarchs, who finished last in 1944 and had to rely on a lot of new players, and a lot of old ones, too. They also enclosed clippings from the black newspapers so I could keep up with the Negro leagues. (The Negro leagues didn't exist as far as Stars and Stripes, the service newspaper, was concerned.) Those letters were so sweet.(As I've written here before, Jackie said it was "a brother named Alexander" that lead him to the Monarchs, but Hilton gets credit in some sources.)
Hilton wrote me about this one player he had recommended to the Monarchs, a football and track star at UCLA named Jack Roosevelt Robinson. The club actually did convince him to play shortstop for the 1945 season, and he did pretty good, batting .345, stealing a lot of bases and playing a decent shortstop. Jackie Robinson would electrify major league baseball in a few years, and he electrified the Monarchs in '45.
I'm no World War II historian, but to provide context to Jackie's time with the Monarchs, here are some key events that took place while Jackie was with the Monarchs. These dates and events are sourced from websites Timelines of History and Timelines.
- March 26 - U.S. Marines Secure Iwo Jima
- April 1 - American assault on Okinawa begins; last campaign of WWII
- April 11 - Americans liberate Buchenwald
- April 12 - FDR dies in Warm Springs, GA; succeeded by Truman
- April 28 - Mussolini executed
- April 29 - Americans liberate Dachau; German Army in Italy surrenders to Allies
- April 30 - Hitler commits suicide
- May 7 - Germany signs surrender, ending European conflict
- May 8 - V-E Day
- August 6 - atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
- August 9 - atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki
- August 14 - Japan surrenders