Mains: Baseball amid a virus in 1950

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on May 5, 2020:

As described three weeks ago, the 1950 baseball season was played in the shadow of the worst polio outbreak, in terms of number of cases, in US history in 1949. The disease, which peaked during the summer, had no cure. (It still doesn’t.) The vaccine that made Jonas Salk an international celebrity was five years away. The season was played with apprehension of another breakout. Two weeks ago, I wrote how the McCarthyism began in February. And last week, I noted that the Korean War, which would claim millions of lives, began in June.

So in a summer dominated by fears of another polio outbreak, fears of global Communism, and fears of an overseas war in which US troops were dying, people needed relief. On October 1, two down-to-the-wire pennant races came to an end. Only two days earlier, the Indians blew out the Tigers 12-2 in front of just 9,814 fans at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, as Cleveland starter Bob Lemon went the distance to earn his 23rd win of the season, tied for the most in the league. That loss handed the pennant to the Yankees for the second straight season in what would become a five-year run.

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Originally published: May 7, 2020. Last Updated: May 7, 2020.