This article was written by David Krell
This article was published in the The National Pastime: The Future According to Baseball (2021)
Editor’s note: This article is a fictional press release from our special issue of The National Pastime looking ahead to the future of baseball in the 21st century.
(NEW YORK, New York)—Major League Baseball Commissioner Roberta Clemente “R.C.” Goldstein announced today the changes for the 2041 Major League Baseball season, via telestream. A transcript of her statements follows:
There has been much speculation about changes to Major League Baseball’s structure for 2041. We have worked tirelessly with the owners, players, and fans to achieve our goals of entertaining the public with baseball of the highest caliber. Our goals of ongoing profitability, safe ballparks, and social consciousness remain priorities along with furthering the mental, emotional, financial, and physical health of our players and staff.
But the 2040s give us a unique opportunity to emphasize the history of Major League Baseball. There will also be highly significant changes to the schedule and a renewed effort to address social issues.
We’re proud to honor the 100th anniversary of the extraordinary 1941 season. July 16th will be Joe DiMaggio Day. All players will wear Joe DiMaggio’s uniform number 5 to mark the date of the 56th and final game of the Yankee Clipper’s hitting streak. Even with the incredible capabilities of today’s players, it’s a record that stands today. Only two other players have broken the 50-game barrier. In 2029, Glenwood Redwood of the Hawaii Kings reached 53 consecutive games. Steve “Crocodile” Lyle’s streak was 51 games with the Buffalo Bisons in 2033.
On September 28 th, players will wear Ted Williams’s uniform number 9. Williams played in a season-ending doubleheader and went six-for-eight to finish the 1941 season with a .406 average. He could have sat out the twin bill to protect his .400 average. Williams is the last player in the American or National Leagues to hit .400 or above.
These honors will be for the 2041 season only.
In 2035, the White Sox-Mets World Series did not end until November 12th because of the Halloween storm that dropped 14 inches of snow on the Chicago-Milwaukee region. Game Six had been scheduled for November 2nd and was postponed to November 10th. Chicago’s 7-0 victory forced Game Seven, which the Mets won, 3-1. Commissioner Goldstein’s remarks:
We are reducing the schedule to 153 games and eliminating interleague play. These are decisions that we do not take lightly. Even though a reduction of nine games will impact the bottom line, we can no longer risk having the World Series extend into November. It’s simply too dangerous to risk having games in under 40-degree weather, which has happened several times in addition to 2035, and weather extremes are on the rise. In addition, an increase in doubleheaders will ensure that the World Series is finished by October 21st.
This 153-game schedule is balanced. Through the elimination of interleague play and with the expansions in 2026 and 2032 (to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Albuquerque, Honolulu, Nashville, and Buffalo), each team will play every other team nine times in their respective leagues. Historic rivalries will be heightened in this paradigm.
Women and Broadcasting
I’m proud to be the first female commissioner of Major League Baseball. MLB continues to strive to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities across the board— announcers, umpires, players, front-office staff, owners. We’ve accomplished a lot since the turn of the twenty-first century, but we certainly have a long way to go. So far, there are five female play-by-play TV announcers and four play-by-play radio announcers in Major League Baseball. We also have six women in the umpiring ranks.
I’m pleased to announce the creation of the Effa Manley Award, which will be given to a woman who has demonstrated excellence in an MLB team’s front office. Please note that although it is named after an owner—Manley co-owned the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues with her husband, Abe—only non-owners will be considered for the award.
In 2006, Manley became the first woman inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Joan Payson, the original Mets owner, was inducted in 2030. Helene Hathaway Robison Britton was the first woman to own an MLB team—the St. Louis Cardinals 1911-1917. The Hall of Fame inducted Britton in 2032.
Regarding players, the highest level for a woman player has been Triple-A. But I’m confident we’ll see one in an MLB uniform before 2045.
We’ve had productive conversations about name changes for teams. Fans will recall the changes that occurred in the ’20s, inspired by the social justice protests during the summer of 2020 and the move of the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver over Georgia’s regressive voting laws. In 2022, Cleveland changed its team name from Indians to Commodores, in honor of Commodore Oliver Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie. A year later, Atlanta changed from Braves to Freedom, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which emphasized that word and concept.
But we support the decisions of the Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, and Hawaii Kings to keep their names in the face of detractors who claim they foster imperialist attitudes. While there is continuing scholarship on the impact of settler colonialism to native populations, the Padres organization honors the missionaries who built San Diego. King Kamehameha unified the Hawaiian Islands as one entity. That unity remained when Hawaii became a US territory and then a state in 1959. And the Royals moniker simply reflects a benign regality.
In recent years, we’ve seen anti-alcohol organizations protest the Brewers and atheists protest the Angels. The Brewers moniker honors the working class of an industry that employs millions of people. MLB has doubled our budget for Public Service Announcements regarding alcohol consumption and alcoholism. The Angels label has no religious implications.
The MLB community is dedicated to participating in the continuing destigmatization of mental health services. Beginning this season, every MLB team will be required to have at least two mental health professionals on staff. It’s the latest part of our project first initiated in 2025: We’re All on the Same Team. We’ve also had great success encouraging counseling for the public with announcements on the stadium screens, plus the PSAs on TV, radio, and podcasts. Ballplayers are taking their obligation as role models very seriously, so expect to see them engaging on this topic in personal appearances and media interviews.
Robots, Technology, and Artificial Intelligence
Robotic umpiring will be installed to call balls and strikes in 2041, but umpires will still be behind home plate and in the field to call plays.
Advancements in bionics have caused us to revisit the possibility of replacement body parts and limbs. There are no changes to the policy banning bionics at the present time.
The commissioner’s office outlined the new alignment for teams:
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Las Vegas Flamingos
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
DAVID KRELL is the author of 1962: Baseball and America in the Time of JFK and Our Bums: The Brooklyn Dodgers in History, Memory and Popular Culture. He is the editor of the anthologies The New York Yankees in Popular Culture and The New York Mets in Popular Culture. David is the chair of SABR’s Elysian Fields Chapter (Northern New Jersey). He has twice been awarded Honorable Mention in SABR’s Ron Gabriel Award.