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Our Olympian Who Took on Hitler: NPR Show Tells the Tale


NPR’s Only a Game celebrated a 1936 Olympian and Hamilton hockey goalie on its Feb. 24 broadcast, not for his prowess on the ice, but for his courage in standing up to Hitler in a brief but prescient moment. The U.S. Hockey Goalie Who Stood Up To Hitler At The 1936 Olympics told the story of Francis Baker ’36, the backup goalie for the team and the only member who spoke German. Having studied German at Hamilton, Baker was asked to translate when Hitler came to see the team before their first game.

Hitler’s visit was precipitated by his demand to have athletes from all nations salute him in the customary Nazi fashion, with right arms extended and rigid, during the opening ceremony. The American team defied his order. Baker, deviating from his role as a translator, told Hitler, “We will not only beat Germany in hockey tomorrow, [but] the United States will always defeat Germany.”

The entire story may be read and heard on the Only a Game website, listed under “Producer Picks.” Only a Game, produced by WBUR, is carried by 250 stations nationwide and can be heard locally on WRVO (91.9 FM) and WAMC (90.3 FM) on Saturdays.

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