Dr. Stan the Stats Man Travels to Baltimore (Part 2) – Babe Ruth and “The 1918 World Series”

My talk was given on Friday at the Baltimore Convention Center. On Saturday after breakfast, we decided to visit the Babe Ruth Museum which is located just a few blocks away from Camden Yards. A trail of baseballs on the pavement led us to the museum. The museum is located on the site of the home that the Babe lived in for the first seven years of his life. The Babe’s original home was only 12 feet wide and consisted of three levels. Each level consisted of two small rooms. By adding several rooms to Ruth’s original home, the Babe Ruth Museum was created

. Visiting one small room in the Babe Ruth Museum opened my eyes to how special the 1918 World Series was. The year was 1918 and the World Series was between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. For Game 1, the Cubs were the home team but to accommodate a larger audience the game was shifted from Weeghman Park, renamed Wrigley Field in 1925, to Comiskey Park, the home of the White Sox. Game 1 of the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. There are different versions of how and why this happened. This is the explanation provided at the museum.  Because our country was involved in WWI, President Woodrow Wilson, who attended the game, suggested that playing our national anthem during the game would be the patriotic thing to do. There was already a band hired to play various songs between the innings. The bottom of the seventh seemed to be most appropriate time because it was traditional for the fans to stand and stretch then. A sparse crowd of 19,274 fans stood up as the band began playing our national anthem. Playing third base for the Red Sox was Jackie Thomas who was on leave from the U.S. Navy. He immediately stood erect and saluted. The other players and fans followed his lead and also stood erect. When the final notes came the fans provided a thunderous applause.

The reason this story was told at the Babe Ruth Museum is that the pitcher on the mound for the Red Sox was none other than the Babe. The Red Sox won Game 1 by a score of 1-0 and Ruth pitched a complete game 4 hit shut-out stretching his post-season scoreless innings from 13 to 22. Ruth batted ninth and went 0-3. Because of the great fan response the national anthem was repeated in Game 2 during the bottom of the seventh. Game 2 was won by the Cubs 3-1. In Game 3 won by the Sox 2-1 the anthem was shifted to the beginning of the game where it stayed for the rest of the series. Game 4 won by the Sox 3-2 saw Ruth back on the mound pitching eight innings giving up two earned runs and driving in two of the runs with a triple. The Babe was the winning pitcher but his scoreless post-season streak ended at 29.

In looking at the box-scores for the six games, I found it strange that Ruth only played in three of the six games. For games 1 and 4 he was the starting and winning pitcher and in Game 6 he was a late-inning defensive replacement and did not bat. This was strange since 1918 was the first time Ruth was allowed to play in the outfield when he did not pitch. In fact, Ruth hit .300, with 11 home runs, enough to secure him a share of the major league home run title. He was still used as a pitcher, and had a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA. Yet in the 1918 WS he had only 5 at bats with 1 hit and 2 RBIs

.Because WWI forced the early termination of the 1918 season, the 1918 WS is the only WS played entirely in September. It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win another WS; the Cubs last won a WS in 1908. Pitching dominated the1918 WS. The 9 runs scored by the winning Red Sox are the fewest runs scored by a winning team in WS history. Boston’s pitchers had a 1.70 ERA and Cub’s pitchers had an even better 1.04 ERA. The offense was anemic. The Cubs batted .210 and the Sox batted .186.with neither team hitting a home run.

Original Comments:

Dave Wilson said…

Stan…well written! Very enlightening and I enjoyed the read!

January 27, 2014 12:02:33

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