by Stan Crader
The most interesting World Series occurred in 1918. The Cubs were playing, but that’s not what made that particular series stand out from all the others before and since. Over 100,000 Americans had already lost their lives in World War I; baseball players were needed in battle rather than in the stadiums. The series was ordered by the government to be finished before labor-day, making players available for the draft. Game one between the Cubs and Red Sox was played in Chicago, but not in Wrigley. The series had been moved to bigger Comiskey Park. Wrigley existed, but by a different name (Weeghman Park).
Babe Ruth was on his way to pitching a game-one shutout and eventually 16 scoreless innings over two games for the Red Sox. But that’s not the most remarkable feature. During the 7th inning stretch of game-one a military band played a song that had been played at previous games. But this time, on this day, the Red Sox third baseman, Fred Thomas, also an active duty Navy Sailor, turned toward the flag, stood at attention and saluted. Other players followed suit and eventually the entire crowd of over 30,000 did the same.
Realizing something magical had occurred, the Cubs repeated the same song for the 7th inning stretch during the remaining games played in Chicago. The Red Sox, not wanting to be outdone did the same when the games moved to Boston’s Fenway Park.
Baseball continued to play the song during the World Series for the next several years. And the crowd continued to stand, face the flag, cross their hearts and join in chorus.
Finally, on March 3, 1931, Congress adopted this song, written by Francis Scott Key, made popular by baseball, America’s favorite sport, as the national anthem. We know it as “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Stan Crader was born and raised in Bollinger County Missouri. Coming of age in rural Missouri provided him the material for many of the rich characters in his books. He credits the variety of jobs and the people with which he has worked for providing him his creative foundation.