1918 World Series

This year it was the “Boys of September” – and the Fall Classic was over even before the first day of autumn. The war-shortened season ended with doubleheaders on September 2 for both the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Three days later, they began the World Series.

The Cubs had finished a full 10 ½ games ahead of the second-place Giants. The Red Sox won the A.L. flag, 2 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland and four ahead of Washington. The Cubs hosted at Comiskey Park in Chicago; the Cubs had borrowed the larger field, just as the Red Sox had borrowed Braves Field in 1915 and 1916. The Red Sox decided to play at home in Fenway, though, in 1918.

Babe Ruth was given the honor of starting Game One for Boston. He shut out Chicago on six hits, extending his postseason scoreless streak to 22 innings. The only run of the game came on hustle in the top of the fourth. Sox second baseman Dave Shean walked. An attempt to bunt him to second failed spectacularly as Amos Strunk popped up on the first pitch. George Whiteman singled over the shortstop and Shean took second. Then manager Barrow called the hit-and-run and, even though left-fielder Les Mann fielded Stuffy McInnis’s single cleanly and fired the ball home, Shean slid across home plate, safe. Chicago’s left-handed ace Hippo Vaughn (with 22 wins even in the short season) didn’t allow another baserunner until the ninth inning, but there was no more scoring. With the 1-0 shutout, the Red Sox took the first game. Vaughn had a 1.75 ERA in the regular season. Ruth had been 13-7, with a 2.22 ERA.

Lefty Tyler (19-8, 2.00) beat Bullet Joe Bush, 3-1, in Game Two. Bush was only .500 (15-15) in the regular season, despite the best ERA (2.11) on the club. Three runs on four hits in the bottom of the second gave the Cubs a lead they never let go. Back-to-back triples by Strunk and Whiteman to lead off the ninth raised hope amongst the Red Sox, but they couldn’t even bring Whiteman home.

In order to reduce unnecessary back-and-forth travel in a time of war, the first three games were played in Chicago. Carl Mays was Boston’s only 20-game winner at 21-13, with a 2.21 regular-season ERA. He faced Vaughn, pitching again after just one day’s rest. Both men gave up seven hits. Boston scored twice in the top of the fourth, on four consecutive singles. The only run the Cubs scored came on a leadoff double and a one-out single.

Before Game Four, the “Star Spangled Banner” was played, beginning a tradition that had endured ever since. Babe Ruth kept throwing goose eggs at Fenway Park, shutting down Chicago for the first seven innings, and it was Ruth’s long triple that knocked in both Red Sox runs in the bottom of the fourth. After one out – and a scoreless streak that had now run 29 2/3 innings – Ruth finally coughed one up. And then another. The game was tied, 2-2. But in the bottom of the eighth, pinch-hitter Wally Schang singled. He took second base on a passed ball and then, when Hooper laid down a sacrifice bunt, Schang scored all the way from second as pitcher Phil Douglas’s throw to first base went wild. The final was 3-2, Red Sox.

Hippo Vaughn finally won one, shutting out Boston in Game Five, 3-0, a five-hitter. Sad Sam Jones took the loss, on a walk, stolen base, and a double in the top of the third. A two-run double by the Cubs’ Dode Paskert in the top of the eighth provided two insurance runs.

Game Six was at Fenway Park, too. Lefty Tyler vs. Carl Mays. The Series would have moved back to Chicago, but the Red Sox won a tight 2-1 game behind the three-hit pitching of the submariner Mays. Tyler only allowed five hits, but Boston got both its runs in the bottom of the third, when George Whiteman’s line drive was misplayed by the right-fielder, Flack. In the top of the fourth, Flack singled to lead off the inning and four batters later, Fred Merkle drove him in. 

The Cubs’ pitching could hardly have been better; they had a staff ERA of 1.04 for the six games of the World Series. In the six games, Boston had only scored nine runs total. But they won four games, and had now won five of the 15 World Series ever played.

With the win, the Red Sox won the World Series. They didn’t win another one for 86 years. And the 1918 win remains the last time the hometown crowd saw the Red Sox win a World Series at home. The Cubs had won back-to-back Series in 1907 and 1908, but have been waiting more than 100 years (and counting) for another championship.


Boston Red Sox, 75-51
Chicago Cubs, 84-45


Boston Red Sox, Ed Barrow
Chicago cubs, Fred Mitchell


Hank O'Day (NL), George Hildebrand (AL), Bill Klem (NL), Brick Owens (AL)

Hall of Famers:

Boston Red Sox: Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth. Cubs: Grover Cleveland Alexander (dnp).

1918 World Series, Babe Ruth, Boston Red Sox, Braves Field, Carl Mays, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Whales, Claude Hendrix, Comiskey Park, Fenway Park, Harry Hooper, Hippo Vaughn, Pete Alexander, Phil Douglas, World War I


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