The War (Not The Flu) That Saved The World SeriesHistorians in the News
For most baseball fans old enough to remember life before 2004, the 1918 Red Sox are seared in the sport’s collective memory, an outfit that for nearly a century was a reminder of decades of Boston baseball futility.
Kind of like the 1940 Rangers . . . only more so.
But if not for a strange confluence of world war and pandemic, we all would have spent the many years between Red Sox championships talking about the 1916 team instead.
In short, “the war saved the World Series,” said Randy Roberts, a Purdue history professor and co-author of a new book called “WAR FEVER: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War.”
Roberts described it as “the accidental World Series. I probably should have called it that [in the book]. It’s a good name for a chapter. But that’s what it was.”
Many people who are aware the 1918 season was cut short and the Series between the Red Sox and Cubs was played in early September assume it was because of the flu epidemic that ravaged the globe in 1918 and 1919.
In fact, it was World War I that prompted the schedule change, and indirectly allowed the Series to occur.
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