On this date – September 5, 1918 – Boston pitcher Babe Ruth took the mound versus Chicago’s Hippo Vaughn in the first game of the annual "Fall Classic," though it was played a little bit earlier than normal. Why was the World Series being played earlier? It was the first of many times that baseball would respond to the country’s call to arms.
Major League Baseball had ended the 1918 season on Labor Day due to the "Work or Fight" order as baseball went to war. As Dan Holmes describes in his article, baseball was not considered an essential industry for the war effort, and many players had jobs either in the service or in factories waiting on them when the season was over.
So the World Series began on September 5. The Boston Red Sox met the Chicago Cubs at Comiskey Park – not Weeghman Park where the Cubs played their home games in 1918 – because of the increased seating at Comiskey before 19,274 fans. Babe Ruth – who won 13 games, batted over .300, and led the league with 11 home runs – had split time in the regular season in both the outfield and on the pitcher’s mound. He faced the Cubs’ Hippo Vaughn, whose 22 wins led the National League.
While Ruth and Vaughn both pitched complete games, it was Ruth’s Red Sox who struck for the first (and only) time in Game 1. Red Sox 1st baseman Stuffy McInnis drove in 2nd baseman Dave Shean in the 4th inning for the only run in the 1-0 Red Sox win. While that solitary run – and the pitcher’s duel – was exciting, it was what happened in the 7th inning stretch that started a tradition lasting 88 years…and counting.
In the middle of the 7th inning with a tight game on the line as Chicago’s 8-9-1 hitters were ready to bat, a military band walked on the field and played the "Star Spangled Banner." From that point forward, the song (though not adopted as the National Anthem until 1931) was played at every World Series game and every home opener.
The Red Sox won that opening game 1-0, and the World Series (their last championship until 2004) four games to two over the Cubs. The Star Spangled Banner, though played situationally during the season, was not played before every game until another time of war, World War II, when patriotism was among its highest levels and ballplayers lined up to serve their country (and after baseball-wide installation of public address systems was complete). Today our National Anthem is played before every game, and God Bless America is performed during every World Series game, as well as many regular season games.
This is just one of the topics that the Education Department covers in our standards-based educational modules covering American History as the game of baseball is inextricably linked with the history of our country through wartime and peace. To participate in either a videoconference or an on-site visit, e-mail us or call 607.547.0347.