Star-Spangled Banner was Baseball’s Anthem Before It Was America’s

From Luke Cyphers and Ethan Trex at on September 8, 2011:

THAT STORY BEGINS, as so many tales in modern American sports do, with Babe Ruth. History records various games in which “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played dating from the mid-1800s, but Ruth’s last postseason appearances for the Boston Red Sox coincided with the song’s first unbreakable bond with the sports world, in 1918. Game 1 of that year’s World Series was notable for many reasons. For starters, the Red Sox and the opposing Cubs were considered champs back then. After 1918, they would serve as symbols of futility; neither won a title for the rest of the century. But at the time, the Cubs were so highly regarded that their World Series home was not Wrigley Field (then Weeghman Park), which seated only 14,000 fans; the National League champs instead rented out the White Sox’s Comiskey Park, which accommodated about 30,000.

There was also World War I, which blackened everything, including the national pastime. The U.S. had entered the war 17 months earlier, and in that time some 100,000 American soldiers died. Veterans who survived often came home maimed or shell-shocked from encounters with modern warfare’s first mechanized mass-killing machines. At home, the public mood was sullen and anxious. The war strained the economy and the workforce, including baseball’s. The government began drafting major leaguers for military service that summer and ordered baseball to end the regular season by Labor Day. As a result, the 1918 Series was the lone October Classic played entirely in September.

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Originally published: September 12, 2011. Last Updated: September 12, 2011.