On This Date In History: The World Series Gets An Early Start

Here's a post for all of our history buffs.

The United States entered World War I in April of 1917. As the war continued on, the military was in need of men to serve their country.  In June of 1918, Provost Marshall General Crowder issued his "work or fight" order.  Below is a quote from the New York Times on the announcement.
"Instructions to draft boards were issued today by Provost Marshall General Crowder explaining and amplifying the work or fight order under which after July 1 all men of draft age, regardless of their classification must engage in employment held to be productive or join the army."

Baseball was not declared "productive" and as a result,  the government ordered that the baseball season be cut off on Labor Day, September 2, 1918.  Every major league team was greatly affected by the order as they all lost players to their required military service.  The Red Sox were completely overhauled by team executive Ed Barrow.  He filled up the depleted roster with guys from other teams but his biggest success was playing Babe Ruth in the outfield for the first time.  Babe responded by hitting .300 with 11 triples, 11 home runs and 66 RBI's.  The well managed Sox took over the AL lead and landed in the World Series.

The NL club that managed the work order best was the Cubs.  They were not as depleted as the defending NL champion NY Giants who ended up finishing 10.5 games behind the Cubs.

On September 5, 1918, the World Series started, one month earlier than it was scheduled to begin.  The Red Sox took game one in Chicago with Ruth on the mound, 1 - 0.  The Cubs won the second game at home but the Sox came back and got the victory in game three by a score of 3 - 1.   As the series headed to Boston for game four, there were rumblings that the players were not going to be paid their prize money for competing in the World Series.  The players from both teams threated to boycott the rest of the Series due to the potential non-payment.  Prior to game four at Fenway, the Mayor of Boston made a plea of patriotism to the players who gave in and finished the series.  The players compromise proposal was that the owners donate all proceeds to a war charity, which the owners never actually carried out.  They played game four, and with Ruth on the mound again Boston won 3 - 2.  The Cubs took game five and on September 11,  the Sox went on to win game six and the 1918 World Series.

As all baseball fans know, the 1918 World Series win would be the Red Sox last until 2004.  The 1918 World Series remains the only Series to be played entirely in September.



Cubs owner Charlie Weeghman and Manager Fred Mitchell

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