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Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox

Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox

5.0 3
by Allan Wood

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1918. When the Boston Red Sox are having a good season, there’s no escaping that date. Sports announcers talk about the “Curse of the Bambino” while fans of opposing teams taunt Boston diehards with chants of “nine-teen-eight-teen.” The year, of course, is the last season the Red Sox won the World Series.

Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red


1918. When the Boston Red Sox are having a good season, there’s no escaping that date. Sports announcers talk about the “Curse of the Bambino” while fans of opposing teams taunt Boston diehards with chants of “nine-teen-eight-teen.” The year, of course, is the last season the Red Sox won the World Series.

Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox is the first complete account of Boston’s last championship. Though the year is famous, fans and even baseball historians know very little about the events of the season. Even the most knowledgeable baseball fan will find one revelation shocking: Wood has uncovered the possibility that the 1918 World Series may have been fixed, much like the notorious 1919 “Chicago Black Sox” scandal.

During that tumultuous summer, the Great War in Europe cast an ominous shadow over the national game, as enlistments and the draft wreaked havoc with every team's roster. Players and owners fought bitterly over contracts and revenue, the parks were infested with gamblers, and the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs almost called off the World Series. And a Boston player known as The Colossus, 23-year-old Babe Ruth, began his historic transformation from pitching ace to the game's greatest slugger.

Allan Wood’s extensive original research and lively narrative brings to life a time when the Red Sox ruled the American League. In addition to poring over miles of microfilm, Wood spoke with descendants of the 1918 players, as well as two men who knew Babe Ruth in 1918. With 34 pages of photographs, many never-before published, Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox is a must-read for Red Sox fans and lovers of baseball history.

“Mr. Wood has lit upon one of the most turbulent and at the same time least known years in baseball history. He has done remarkable, revelatory research, and he has a clean, clear way of writing.” Robert W. Creamer, author of Babe: The Legend Comes To Life

Be sure to check out the author's Website: www.1918redsox.com

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The year 1918 is special for Red Sox fans the last year their team won the World Series. Growing up in Vermont, Allan Wood was one such fan, and in 1918: Babe Ruth and the World Champion Boston Red Sox, he explores his partisan obsession to the fullest. That series was marred by disputes between players and owners over revenues; indeed, the players almost called it off. It also marked the emergence of 23-year-old Babe Ruth, whom many still see as the greatest player the game has ever known.

Wood, who has copiously researched his subject, explores how this ancient triumph came to pass and raises the possibility that, like the infamous "Black Sox" series the following year, the 1918 series was fixed. This book's level of detail is excessive for anyone who isn't a hardcore sports fan but the questions it poses are certain to inflame New Englanders.

David Plaut
Fresh research on the most "recent" of Bosox world championships uncovers possible evidence that this World Series (as was the case the following year) also might have been influenced by gamblers' wagers and ballplayers on the take.
Baseball Weekly
Bob Clark
We hardly need to be reminded that 1918 was the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, but how many know they did it with a patchwork team in a truncated season overshadowed by World War I? Allan Wood recaptures it well with particular emphasis on Ruth making the transition from pitcher to slugger and dominating headlines on and off the field.
Boston Herald
Camden Joy
The scope of "1918" is bigger than Babe Ruth; it is nothing less than the story of a season under siege. By skillfully weaving sports biography into social history, Wood displays a patched-together pastime, its already crooked stitching unraveling further with the threat of war. ... Wood's original research lends urgency to what is sure to become a classic sports book. The fleeting circumstances of baseball, its deceptive pace and sudden, petulant dramas, are rendered with a color and immediacy rarely found in synopses of the game's pre-radio days.
Seven Days
Mark Bazer
....an intensely researched and entertaining read ...Wood handles the potentially confusing nature of professional baseball's relation to the war especially well [and] he reveals the chaotic nature of a league that was battling the government for the right to finish the season, all the while losing players to combat and war-related industries. ....Babe Ruth still led the league in home runs and had a 2.22 ERA. And apparently he still managed to party and goof off every chance he got.
Boston Phoenix
Ron Fimrite
....an entertaining and exhaustive account of a tumultuous season.
Sports Illustrated
Library Journal
The 1918 season was momentous for the Red Sox. It was played under wartime restrictions; it saw their fifth World Series crown the last to date; and the Bambino began to change from ace pitcher to slugging outfielder. Wood, a Red Sox fan and sportswriter, backtracks to George Herman Ruth's youth as a rebellious urchin who was reoriented to his Hall of Fame career under a mentor at a Baltimore orphanage. Wood proceeds to provide an admiring story of the Red Sox triumph, despite depleted rosters and threats of a government shutdown and players' strike. Sure to attract Boston area libraries and most sports collections elsewhere. Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Lib., Tucson, AZ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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iUniverse, Incorporated
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt


It was a fastball, a waste pitch left too far out over the plate. As soon as it left George Tyler’s left hand, Babe Ruth picked up the ball’s rotation, and his eyes lit up.

With a sharp intake of breath, the young Boston Red Sox slugger stepped into the pitch. In his mind, the crowd at Fenway Park 20,000 fans, staring, howling, imploring fell away to silence as he cut the air with a ferocious swing. All he heard was hard wood hitting old leather.

It sounded like a rifle shot. The ball went screaming over the second baseman’s head, not rising more than 10 feet off the ground. In right field, Max Flack of the Chicago Cubs took one step in then suddenly realized his mistake. He turned his back to the infield and started running as fast as he could. He leapt, but the ball sailed over his glove, bounced once and banged up against the bleacher fence.

Fenway Park erupted. Straw hats sailed through the air. Scorecards and bags of peanuts flew skyward. Men slapped each other on the back and cheered their hero with lusty, proprietary roars. On the field, everyone was in motion: Flack chasing the ball to deep right field, Dode Paskert sprinting over from center, Charlie Pick coming out from second base to relay the outfielder’s throw, Charlie Deal straddling third base, watching the action unfold. Boston runners George Whiteman and Stuffy McInnis crossed the plate, both turning to watch Ruth tearing around second, dead set on third.

Babe slid hard into the bag safe! Deal tossed the ball back to Tyler. The crowd yelled even louder. Ruth stood on the bag, hands on his hips, the ovation echoing in his ears. What a remarkable season it had been for the 23-year-old Boston pitcher. His dreams of playing every day finally had been taken seriously and he had thrived. His name had begun appearing in newspaper headlines around the country and hundreds of people came out to games for no other reason than to see him in uniform. For seven weeks in July and August, he achieved a streak of sustained excellence unmatched in baseball history. It was fitting that Ruth’s first World Series hit was a triple, because deep in his heart, Babe knew that nothing felt better than smacking a three-bagger with men on base.

As Tyler walked slowly back to the center of the diamond with his head down, the triple was replayed in 20,000 minds and its importance began to sink in. The Red Sox now held a 2-0 lead in Game Four of the 1918 World Series. Boston would go on to win the game 3-2, widening its lead over Chicago to three games to one.

Two days later, on September 11, the Red Sox won their third World Series championship in four years, their fourth in seven seasons, and became the first team ever to win five World Series titles. Of course, none of the 15,238 people in Fenway Park that Wednesday afternoon could have known the significance that Game Six victory would eventually hold. If they had, they might not have filed out so quietly afterwards, their overcoats buttoned against the early autumn chill. If any of those fans could have foreseen the future, they might have lingered a little longer, tried to burn a stronger imprint of the game into their minds.

Exactly two months later, the Great War in Europe would come to an end. No one could imagine that after that beleaguered 1918 season a summer in which the eventual champions battled clubhouse dissensions, threats of a players’ strike, the bumbling ineffectiveness of the game’s ruling body, a possible shut-down of the game by the government, and a tragic, untimely death Red Sox fans would wait and wait and wait now 82 years and counting for another World Series title.

What People are Saying About This

Robert W. Creamer
Mr. Wood has lit upon one of the most turbulent and important and at the same time least known years in baseball history. He has done remarkable, revelatory research, and he has a clean, clear way of writing.
—(Robert W. Creamer, author of Babe: The Legend Comes to Life)

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Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Follow the 1918 season game by game and see why the Yankees ended up with Ruth. The author must have spent years researching the information. Rarely can you follow a sports season 85 years later and feel like you know what happened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
1918 is such a famous year - but no one really knows anything about it. This book gives you an entertaining and in-depth look at the last Red Sox team to win the World Series. It also contains a biography of Babe Ruth up to 1918. The Babe was incredibly talented and he was a wild man - Red Sox fans loved him and you will, too. This book is also about what baseball was like in those days. It's changed a lot, but in some ways it hasn't changed at all. Very interesting - and a really good read.