Mark E. Eberle
Ever since General Dwight David Eisenhower mentioned in 1945 that he had played professional baseball under a pseudonym Wilson sometime after his 1909 graduation from Abilene High School, there have been attempts to document this assertion. Yet, he offered little detail for researchers to follow, not even the team or year. If true, however, it has been speculated this would have made him ineligible for intercollegiate competition in 1911-1915 while he attended the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he played on the football team. Thus, interest in the story has persisted. Newspaper accounts of baseball mention a professional ballplayer named Wilson, who was a member of the minor league teams in Abilene and other towns in the region from 1909 through 1914. It was during 1909-1911 that the recently graduated Eisenhower waited in Abilene, seeking opportunities to earn money that would help pay for a college education. Superficial research into the histories of Eisenhower and professional baseball around Abilene at this time has led to speculation that this ballplayer named Wilson, at least in some instances, was actually Dwight Eisenhower. However, it is impractical to try making sense of Eisenhower’s sparse comments about his baseball career without a thorough consideration of the historical context. This study assesses Eisenhower’s experiences in baseball, as well as his statements about playing professional baseball and the contemporary intercollegiate eligibility rules. A biographical summary for the ballplayer named Wilson associated with baseball in Abilene is also provided.