On January 15, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt penned the famous “green light” letter to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. In the letter, President Roosevelt addressed Commissioner Landis’s query about playing baseball in the wake of the Second World War. FDR believed that playing the sport would be good for Americans, and he encouraged baseball owners to hold more night games in order to allow workers to attend games.
The T-13 Beano hand grenade was an experimental hand grenade developed during World War II by what was then known as the “Office of Strategic Services” (OSS) which later became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I mention it in this blog because the Beano was designed to be a spherical grenade the size and weight of a common baseball. The idea, developers thought, was that any American boy should be able to properly throw the grenade with distance and accuracy. While I do like the concept of America’s Pastime permeating society so thoroughly as to inspire this kind of thing, it’s also awfully presumptive to design a weapon based on this thinking.
The Beano grenade was designed with a pressure trigger and intended to detonate and explode on contact with hard surfaces. American soldiers were taught to hold and throw the grenade like a baseball. The original design called for the grenade to weight approximately the same as a traditional baseball (a little over five ounces), however, the final model weight approximately twelve ounces.
Once the final design was approved, several thousand Beano grenades were shipped to Europe, and they were supposed used (in limited quantities) during the Normandy invasion in June 1944. However, several of the grenades detonated prematurely and, as a result, killed more American troops than enemy troops. At the end of World War II, the U.S. military’s supply of T-13 Beano Grenades was ordered destroyed and files pertaining to the weapon were classified. Some Beano grenades do remain in existence, and they continue to be coveted by military history buffs.