This Year's World Series Isn't the First Played During a Pandemic. Here's What Happened to Baseball in 1918

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War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and American in the Shadow of the Great War, a book co-authored by Johnny Smith, associate professor in the School of History and Sociology, was mentioned in the article "This Year's World Series Isn't the First Played During a Pandemic. Here's What Happened to Baseball in 1918", published Oct. 23, 2020 in Time.

Smith's book, co-written with Randy Roberts of Purdue University, explores the confluence of World War I, the World Series, and a worldwide influenza pandemic in 1918. The books paralells to the present day are numerous, especially as the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers contest the 2020 World Series in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Excerpt:

In War Fever, Smith and Roberts write that it was just a few weeks before the start of the series that Babe Ruth and two other Red Sox teammates got notices from their draft board informing them they had to find “essential occupations” by Sept. 1 or face enlistment. The Series, between the Sox and the Cubs, was scheduled to start on Sept. 5. It would be the only World Series ever played in September.

Ruth’s place on the ball field was about more than just competitive advantage. The 1918 season had been the year that Ruth revolutionized the game from the Ty Cobb “deadball era” of choppy, small hits and bunts used to move the runner around, to the colossal over the fence home runs that Babe excelled at hitting. During this time, says Georgia Tech history professor Johnny Smith, “the sports writers, particularly in Boston, constructed an image of him as all that is good in America. His power at the plate at a time when no one else was hitting home runs or swinging for the fences the way that he did becomes a metaphor for American manpower in the war. The difference in the war is going to be American manhood, American strength. Ruth demonstrates that the powerful American man is what decides the outcome on the ball field just like powerful American manhood will decide the outcome in this war.”

Full article.

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, School of History and Sociology

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, School of History and Sociology; ivan allen college of liberal arts
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  • Created On: Oct 26, 2020 - 2:27pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 29, 2020 - 7:38pm