Deadball Committee World Series Project: 1918 sample chapter

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Editor’s note: The following is a sample chapter from the Deadball Era Committee’s World Series Project. Learn more about it here: http://sabr.org/content/deadball-era-committee-world-series-book-project.

1918

Allan Wood, Series Editor

{The 1918 World Series took place in early September due to the “Work or Fight” order that forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1. It remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September.}

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4

The mighty shadow of Babe Ruth falls athwart Chicago tonight like a menace. But for the tremendous figure of the Boston Red Sox pitcher-outfielder and slugger, these parts of the United States would shout from the housetops the boast that Fred Mitchell’s Cubs will smear the Boston hose in the world series which starts tomorrow afternoon at Comiskey’s South Side Park.

Never did one man count so heavily in the before-the-game pressure of a world series. A bigger, more important part he fills than did {Grover Cleveland} Alexander in 1915, {Rube} Marquard in ’16, Eddie Collins in ’17. Take him out of the way and the Cubs would be superior and would have enough confidence to do harsh things to the men from Massachusetts. But there he is, a huge, human, horrifying prospect for Mitchell and his men, absolutely unruffled and calm.

Manager Barrow will pitch Ruth if the Cubs start Jim Vaughn. This is opposing ace with ace, for it is no secret that Ruth, right at this stage of the game, is far and away the best bet the Bostonese have in the box. Look over his recent record and you will see a string of wins, with small base hit allowance to the foe. As the Colossus told me tonight, “I hope he will start me. I can win and start the team off right.”

You see, he absolutely lacks the nervousness which has hampered so many great pitchers on the eve of the title series. He just cannot understand why any one should consider the possibility of his being anxious and worried. He goes further and says, “Why, I’d pitch the whole series, every game, if they’d let me. Do it? Of course I can do it.”

—Burt Whitman, Boston Herald and Journal

The Cubs have two left handers who are expected to turn the Red Sox on their heads, first because the Red Sox are supposed to be weak against that pitching, and second, because those two left handers, Big Jim Vaughn and George Tyler, are among {the} three or four best port siders in the game.

Chicago rates Vaughn above Tyler. The Red Sox rate them just the other way. They know Vaughn is a great pitcher, but they fear Tyler more. Why? Here’s the answer: Vaughn is a speed ball pitcher with considerable stuff, but mostly speed. The Red Sox think they can hit fast left-handed pitching.

Tyler hasn’t the speed of Vaughn. He throws a sweeping outcurve ball, delivered with a cross-fire motion, a good slow ball and a better change of pace than Vaughn. That’s the sort of pitching the Red Sox don’t like.

—W.C. Spargo, Boston Traveler

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

{T}o-day’s game ushers in the most unique, the most extraordinary world’s series in the history of the game. It’s a world’s series and it isn’t. To those who love baseball, who take the national game seriously, who consider an afternoon without the thrills of the green turf an ill-spent afternoon this series is fraught with possibilities. To them it contains all the thrills of the banner events of the years gone by.

But to those who look upon the world’s series as a spectacle, as a thing to be enjoyed because of its rampant enthusiasm, because of its maddened throngs, this series doesn’t appeal. …

And this sentiment seems to prevail throughout the city. Go where the fans congregate and the excitement, the interest are intense. They are wagering upon the outcome of the series as they did when the thought of war was unknown. But go into the hotels, into the lobbies where seething throngs formerly gathered, and you hear little of the series that starts on this day.

—Bill Bailey, Chicago American (Morning Edition)

The first game of the world’s series was called off this morning at 10:20 o’clock. The National Commission members met then and wasted no time in deciding the matter, as the field was thoroughly soaked by the drenching rain and there was little hope that the downpour would cease. …

This means that the first three games of the series will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the latter day having been a blank in the original schedule issued by the commission. It means too that the receipts doubtless will be much higher.

—Bill Bailey, Chicago American (Afternoon Edition)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6

{On September 5, in Chicago, the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs 1 to 0. Winning pitcher, Babe Ruth; losing pitcher, Jim Vaughn. The Red Sox lead the best-of-seven Series, one game to zero.}

To be at home when that exacting old codger, Mr. Opportunity, drops around is not only the proper caper in the matter of etiquette, but a swell move from a diplomatic angle. Well, the Red Sox were waiting for the old boy in the vestibule when he brushed in today at Comiskey Park, and that is why they trimmed the Cubs 1 to 0 in the opening battle of the World’s Series.

They passed up nothing in the way of opportunities. They made hay while the sun was on the job, did not stop anywhere for a drink and sneaked in the stitch of time, while the Cubs threw Mr. Opportunity down flat, turning their back on him as they would a professional panhandler. …

It was a battle of southpaws Babe Ruth being pitted against Hippo Jim Vaughn and while the National League champions outhit the Red Sox, Babe proved himself to be a master workman. There were times when he had to be there to avoid disaster, and the world should know that he was there. On the attack, the Oriole Adonis was just about as useful as an umbrella which has been given the Kayo by the wind.

On his first trip to the plate, Babe soaked the apple to center, {Dode} Paskert getting under it after flopping around in the pasture for a while. The next two times that the Oriole boy faced Hippo he fanned and he looked stupid, as he was missing bad balls. The fans applauded him every time he stepped to the plate and he was a picture even when he was striking out, but the kind of picture that no Boston artist would seek to paint. …

{Ruth} can rest on his pitching laurels. He worked out of a number of tight holes so artistically that many wanted to know if he ever hung around with Houdini.

—Edward F. Martin, Boston Globe

A gent who sat behind the Red Sox bench bet $300 on Boston to win. During the early innings he called Sam Agnew over and told him to tell Babe to keep the ball in close to the Cubs. When the Sox took the field in the next inning Sam delivered the message to Babe, then yelled over to the man who made the wager, “Everything is O.K., old boy, Babe says he’ll do that.”

—W.C. Spargo, Boston Traveler

{T}he erudite scribes who have followed the Red Sox for the season … blame the National League’s board of strategy for not advising Left Fielder {Les} Mann and Center Fielder Paskert to shift towards the side line when {Stuffy} McInnis went to bat in the fatal fourth {when the Red Sox scored the game’s only run}. … McInnis, in American league circles, is a notorious left-field hitter. But when he took his place at the plate neither Mann nor Paskert moved an inch toward the side line, notwithstanding that runners were on second and {first} and the situation serious, with but one man out. McInnis looked the first one over, but the second pitch came across to suit him and he dropped a rather indifferent rap into left field toward the foul line. Proper preliminary coaching would have placed Mann directly in line for an easy catch on this ball and a resulting out, with no score. He would have been sufficiently well in to have bluffed any attempt to go home.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Cubs demonstrated that they apparently had not seen McInnis play recently. … Instead of moving toward the foul line and coming in a trifle, Mann played fully fifty feet from the spot to which McInnis generally hits and where he proceeded to hit in the fourth round.

—Henry P. Edwards, Cleveland Plain Dealer

The band halted the proceedings in the seventh inning by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” {This was the first time that the song, which did not become the national anthem until 1931, was performed at a major league game.} The players with the exception of {Fred} Thomas stood at civilian salute, the Great Lakes sailor coming to the military pose.

—J. V. Fitz Gerald, Washington Post

The effect of the war was everywhere apparent, especially in the temper of the crowd which, largely local, saw the home team drop the first battle without a protest. … No seats were occupied in the upper tier of the second floor of the grandstand, and the right section of the stand was practically empty. In the left section there were many vacant chairs. A number of boxes also were without occupants and in the bleachers the three lower rows all around the field were vacant.

—Baltimore Sun

The attendance today of 19,274 was nearly 13,000 less than the crowd which jammed Comiskey Park for the initial contest between the Giants and White Sox a year ago.

—Washington Post

Probably no opening contest in recent world’s series history was ever brought off with fewer vocal ebullitions or less display of heart-felt interest. … There were some 20,000 more or less persons present, but they seemed to have attended in the spirit of those who fulfilled a necessary rite.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

{On September 6, in Chicago, the Cubs beat the Red Sox 3 to 1. Winning pitcher, Lefty Tyler; losing pitcher, Bullet Joe Bush. The Series is tied at one game apiece.}

Hard words during yesterday’s engagement had paved the way for arguments that this afternoon led to fistic challenges and finally a clash in the dugout between the opposing forces. …

It fell to the lot of Otto Knabe, generally hated by the Boston players, to be the cause of the mixup. … Knabe, who picked Babe Ruth as his mark yesterday and “rode” the Boston southpaw all through the full nine innings … chose {Heinie} Wagner for the mark {in Game Two}. Heinie, a fixture on the third base coaching line which is directly on the front of the local dugout at this park, was forced to listen to a lot of Knabe’s personalities during the second inning {during which the Cubs scored all three of their runs}.

Knabe yelled something particularly aggravating at Wagner when the third man was out and Heinie had started to return to his own bench. Wagner resented the attack instantly and walked towards the Chicago bench. Out from the dugout jumped Knabe in a jiffy and in a second the two were engaged in a violent dispute. This was finally ended when Wagner issued a challenge to Knabe, at the same time motioning towards the Cub dugout.

Knabe accepted the invitation and followed Wagner down through the dugout and into the little alley where last year Chick Gandil made his famous attack upon {Lore} Bader of the Red Sox team.

In an instant both benches were in an uproar and spectators, hitherto unaware that something was transpiring behind the scenes, were amazed to see a string of players leap from the Boston dugout on a run, Carl Mays and Sam Agnew leading all the rest.

Agnew still wore his shin guards and protector, but discarded the latter while on the run across the field. {Walt} Kinney and {George} Whiteman followed with {Wally} Schang and Babe Ruth close on their heels, and for a brief moment it looked as though the world’s championship of 1918 would be fought out in the alleyway.

Just as the umpires, apprised of the situation, hustled over to the Chicago bench, Wagner was seen emerging with his hair all mussed up and the soiled back of his shirt proving that the sturdy little Dutchman had been temporarily downed. But Agnew, Ruth and the others hung over the rail encircling the dugout until summarily ordered back to their own positions by the umpires. …

Wagner was roundly booed by the crowd, and for a few minutes the Boston players were deluged with invitations to fight. Some of the more pugnacious Cub partisans came all the way down to the front of the grandstand and yelled their challenges to the Red Sox, but no notice was taken of these by the players.

The feeling against Knabe extends away back to 1910 when Otto was engaged in a series played between his club and the Red Sox during the spring training season at Hot Springs. At the time he came near mixing it up with Wagner and {Bill} Carrigan but no blows were struck. The bad feeling has existed ever since.

—Paul H. Shannon, Boston Globe

The series is back now where it started. Neither team has shown any marked superiority, but it must be remembered that the Cubs have used their two best bets, Vaughn and Tyler, whereas the Sox have two curve balling right-handers – Carl Mays and Sam Jones – who can be relied on to bother the Cubs. …

Talk there has been of Vaughn working with but one day of rest. That is unlikely. … There’s such a thing as too much southpawing, even when it keeps Babe Ruth out of the game.

Ruth’s big bat will be back in the fray against {Claude} Hendrix or {Phil} Douglas, and if the big boy catches one – curtains, that’s all. For observation of the Hose this season convinces me that the Colossus is pretty nearly the main spring of victory in the Sox machine.

—Burt Whitman, Boston Herald and Journal

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