The Patriots are in the playoffs again. As enthusiastic as I am, my dedication is not what it is for my beloved Red Sox. I think it has to do with the fact that when I was growing up New England didn’t have a professional football team, and soccer was the flagship sport of my hometown high school.
And though the Patriots have had some dreadful seasons, their occasional lapses pale in comparison to the draught that generations of Red Sox fans experienced between 1918 and 2004. Though the 2004 World Series will be remembered as a classic, memories of the 1918 World Series have their own interesting appeal.
Most people remember that Babe Ruth was the star for the Sox in that era. In 1918 he was both a 13 game-winning pitcher and an outfielder that led the American League with 11 home runs and a.555 slugging percentage. In a year that was cut short by World War I, Wbseries Media the team won 75 games – led by a pitching staff with a 2.47 ERA.
In the 1918 World Series the Red Sox faced the Chicago Cubs who ended their season with an impressive 84-45 record. The war concerns that forced a shortened season also produced the only world’s series to be held entirely in the month of September.
As the Series got underway there was talk about a players strike due to low gate receipt remuneration. The league had recently decided that compensation would be reduced because, for the first time, all first-division clubs would share in the revenue. Additionally, there were rumblings that some of the Cubs players were in cahoots with local gamblers and were planning on fixing the Series. There is no clear proof of this, though recently a court transcript was discovered by the Chicago History Museum that recorded allegations by Eddie Cicotte (a member 1919 Chicago Black Sox) that the Cubs intentionally lost the series to the Red Sox because they felt they were not getting their fair share of the gate receipts. Again, no real proof. Just rumors and hearsay.
The Chicago home games were held at Comiskey Park because it had a larger seating capacity than the Cubs’ regular season park. This was not uncommon during these years. The Red Sox had moved to Braves Field in Boston for the same reason in their earlier Series appearances.
Game One of the 1918 Series is remembered because, in a show of wartime patriotism, The Star Spangled Banner was played for the first time in a major league baseball game when the band struck up the song during the 7th inning stretch. It was also in Game One the Babe pitched a 1-0 shutout, extending a post-season scoreless innings stretch that went back to 1916.
The Cubs bounced back for a 3-1 victory in Game Two, and the Red Sox took the lead again with a 2-1 victory by Red Sox ace Carl Mays in Game Three.
In Fenway Park for Game Four, the Babe’s Series scoreless inning streak ended at 29 2⁄3 when the Cubs tied the game in the eighth inning. But the Red Sox went on to win the game 3-2 when Wally Schang scored on a passed ball by relief pitcher Phil Douglas. As the number six batter for the Sox, the Babe also had some big hits in this game, and he is still the only starting pitcher in World Series history to bat other than ninth place.
Hippo Vaughn, the Cubs pitching ace, finally came through in Game Five with a five hit shutout performance that gave Chicago a 3-0 victory. In the final Game Six, Carl Mays earned his second series victory when a throwing error by outfielder Max Flack allowed 2 Red Sox runs to score. These runs were all they needed, and Boston beat Chicago in the 1918 World Series 4 games to 2.
Incidentally, Max Flack became known as the ‘goat’ of the 1918 World Series. And it was Flack’s performance during these games that helped fuel rumors that some Cubs players were on the take. He made several errors during the Series and he also remains the only player in Fall Classic history to be picked off base more than once in a single game.
The 1918 World Series showcased outstanding pitching. The Red Sox pitchers combined for an ERA of 1.70, while the Cubs were even lower at 1.04. Naturally, the opposite was reflected in the hitting by both teams. Chicago had Series batting average of.210 and Boston could only muster a combined average of.186. No team scored more than 3 runs in a game and it remains the last World Series in which no player hit a home run.