In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The Boston Red Sox win their third World Series in four years, beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in Game 6 at Fenway Park. The World Series was moved up to September due to the “Work or Fight” order given to able-bodied men with World War I entering a critical stage. It is also Boston's fifth overall World Championship and fourth since 1912.
After nearly three years of trying to stay neutral, the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. After a year, the war effort reached a critical stage, leading to an order to “Work or Fight” from the federal government, calling on all able-bodied men to either get war jobs or go over to Europe and join the battle. This shortened the 1918 baseball season by one month ending on September 1st, with the World Series beginning soon after.
The Boston Red Sox, the dominant team of the age, was back in the Fall Classic after a one-year hiatus. The Red Sox won the first World Series in 1903, along with 1912, 1915, and 1916. The Red Sox, managed by Ed Barrow, won the American League Pennant with a record of 75-51. The star of the team was Babe Ruth, who had been a top pitcher in Boston but had begun to be used more and more in the outfield as he led the league with 11 home runs. The Chicago Cubs, managed by Fred Mitchell, won the National League with a record of 84-45 and were seeking to win the World Series for the first time since back-to-back wins in 1907 and 1908.
The first three games of the series would be played in Chicago, but instead of using Weegham Park, the Cubs' usual home, the games were played at the larger Comiskey Park. Game 1 would feature a pitchers’ duel between Babe Ruth and Hippo Vaughn, with Boston winning 1-0 on an RBI single by Stuffy McInnis in the fourth inning. The game would mark the start of a new tradition in baseball as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played for the first time during the seventh inning stretch as part of the efforts surrounding the war.
The Cubs rebounded with a 3-1 in Game 2, as Lefty Tyler aided his cause with a two-run single to cap a three-run rally in the second inning. Tyler nearly had a shutout but finally yielded a run on back-to-back triples in the ninth inning, with George Whiteman knocking home Amos Strunk.
In Game 3, Hippo Vaughn found himself on the wrong end of a tight pitchers’ duel again in Game 3, as Boston won 2-1, with Carl Mays on the mound as Wally Schang and Everett Scott drove home runs in the fourth inning. Billy Killefer drove home the Cubs' run in the fifth, as the game ended with a dramatic play at the plate. Charlie Pick singled off Mays with two outs and then stole second base. Pick then tried to score on a passed ball by Schang, advancing from second. However, he was thrown out at home after a brief rundown.
Babe Ruth was back on the mound for Game 4, after a one-day travel took the series to Boston’s Fenway Park. Ruth aided his cause with a triple that scored two runs in the fourth. Looking to take a stranglehold of the Cubs, the Red Sox held a 2-0 lead until the eighth inning, when a fit of wildness cost the Bambino two runs. The two runs allowed in the eighth ended Babe Ruth’s record 29 and two-thirds scoreless innings streak, which would remain the record in the Fall Classic until it was topped by Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees in 1962. Boston answered by scratching out a run in the bottom of the inning to win the game 3-2 as Bullet Joe Bush recorded the save.
Hard luck Hippo Vaughn finally got some run support in Game 5, as the Cubs blanked the Red Sox and pitcher Sad Sam Jones 3-0. The Cubs put up one run in the third on a Les Mann double in the third and a two-run double by Dode Paskert in the eighth.
The Red Sox had Carl Mays on the mound for Game 6 against Lefty Tyler. In the third, George Whiteman plated two runs for Boston, while Fred Merkle drove in a run for the Cubs in the fourth. It was all pitching the rest of the way as Mays earned his second series with a three-hitter to bring the World Champion banner to Boston.
The 1918 World Series would be the third and final World Series played with no home runs, joining the Fall Classics from 1906 and 1907, two series that also involved the Cubs. World War I would end two months after the series’ final game. In postwar America, fans became enamored by the home run thanks to the exploits of Babe Ruth. The Red Sox would sell their budding star to the Yankees after the 1919 season and did not win another World Series until 2004, enduring 86 years of heartache. Not to be outdone, the Cubs would not win a World Series for 108 years ending their drought in 2016.