Today, the Star Spangled Banner Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers the date when the national anthem was first played for a national sporting event.
During World War I, the Secretary of War cut short the baseball season, but he did allow the World Series to be played in early September.
At the first game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, the small military band played the Star Spangled Banner during the seventh inning stretch.
The crowd that had been mostly silent throughout the innings began to sing, haltingly at first but then with more and more voices joining with a resounding finish.
Chicago’s baseball management decided to have the national anthem played at the next two games, again with success.
When the Series moved to Boston, their baseball management moved the Star Spangled Banner to the front of the game and added recognition to wounded soldiers who had received free tickets to the game.
The Red Sox won the Series in six games for that shortened 1918 season.
From the Lewiston [ME] Daily Sun, a description of the first game of the series and the first Star Spangled Banner:
Red Sox Won the First Game, 1 to 0
Chicago Fans Saw Home Team Drop Contest Without a Protest
Chicago, September 5, 1918.
One of the smallest crowds which ever turned out for a World’s Series opening saw the Boston Red Sox, of the American League, defeat the Cubs of the National League, 1 to 0 today in an errorless game.
The battle was between two eminent representatives of what the dictionary calls the family Hippopotamidae—names, “Hippo” Vaughn of the Cubs and another “Hippo” rejoicing in the name of “Babe” Ruth.
These two giants fought it out all the way and although Ruth allowed six hits to his opponent’s five, the “break” went to the invaders and they were consequently making convenient claims to the World’s Championship tonight.
The effect of the war was everywhere apparent, especially in the temper of the crowd which, largely local, saw the home team drop the first game without a protest. There was no cheering during the contest, nor was there anything like the usual umpire baiting.
Today’s attendance was 19,247. Rain caused postponement of the first game scheduled for yesterday. Today the downpour had ceased and the grounds were comparatively dry.
The sun showed fitfully and there was a stiff, chill breeze from the north. No seats were occupied in the upper tier of the second floor of the grand stand and the right section of the stand was practically empty. In the left section there were many vacant chairs.
A number of boxes were without occupants and in the bleachers, the three lower rows all around the fields were vacant.
War taxes, the high cost of living curtailed railroad service at advanced prices, the weather, the curtailed season and over all the shadow of the war were said to account for the indifference of the public.
The dyed-in-the-wool fans were there, but not the general public.
The left field bleacher space, usually given over to the virtues of a certain chewing gum admonished the crowd to “keep the glow in Old Glory” and the right field space commanded “Buy War Savings Stamps and do it now.”
At intervals six airplanes from the War Exposition on the Lake Front reminded the spectators that baseball is not an essential industry.
Even the brass band was cut down to a war basis of twelve pieces, and it attracted most attention when it played “The Star Spangled Banner.”
On this occasion players and audience stood respectfully, Fred Thomas among them.
Thomas, third baseman for Boston, was in the Red Sox uniform, by grace of a furlough from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
One thrill was granted the crowd aside from the game and that was what must have happened to the aspirations of the ticket speculators. They had unlimited seats which they attempted to sell at double and treble normal prices.
The one-handed spear by Scott of Vaughn’s hot grounder in the seventh inning provided the one spectacular feature of the contest.
It was a beautiful play but at the time the Cubs were not threatening. The whole nine innings failed to produce a hit for extra bases, nor any real test of speed for the outfielders.
George Whiteman, Boston utility outfielder, starred in the outfield for Boston, and doubtless prevented the Cubs from scoring. He was also the only man of the visitor to make two hits one of which figured in Boston’s lone but victorious tally.
Vaughn’s momentary weakness in the fourth inning cost him the game.
Shean, the first man up for Boston walked when the giant Cub twirler attempted to work the corners on umpire O’Day.
Strunk, who followed, flied to Vaughn on an attempted sacrifice and Whiteman delivered his second blow, sending Shean to second.
Paskert’s quick return prevented the Red Sox second baseman from taking third. McInnis’s single to left scored Shean, while Whiteman moved up to second. Scott popped to Deal and Whiteman scrambled back to the keystone sack just in time to beat the Cub third baseman’s peg to second; Vaughn mixed them to Thomas, who swung heavily at three wide ones. This ended the inning for Boston and the scoring also.
Boston never threatened again.
The premier brand of Ruth’s pitching was the chief factor in the Cub defeat, although the superb support rendered by his teammates assisted in repulsing the Cub attack.
Had the Nationals been able to bunch their blows on the Boston pitcher the game would have been over in the first when Mann singled after two were out and took third on Paskert’s Texas leaguer to left field.
Merkle was passed, filling the bases. With the game depending on his next offering, Ruth served up a low fast ball to Pick, at the same time waving his outfielders back toward the bleachers and the Cub second baseman dropped a high fly to Whiteman closing the inning.
Whiteman captured the ball after a hard run and earned laurels thereby.
Whiteman stepped in between the Cubs and victory again in the sixth.
With one out Paskert singled to center taking third when Merkle bounced a grounder over Ruth’s head and into center field.
Pick grounded out to McInnis unassisted, and Stuffy’s quick throw from first held the Cub center fielder at third.
A moment later Whiteman again stepped into the fore and raced across the field after Deal’s long fly to deep left. He captured it after a hard run and the game was saved for the Cubs never threatened again.
After the sixth, Ruth pitched airtight ball and despite Manager Mitchell’s strategies the Cubs never had a look-in.
They went out in order, save in the final inning, when after one was out, Mitchell sent his reserves into the front line.
Merkle had sent a long fly to Whiteman, when Mitchell sent O’Farrell in to bat for Pick.
The Cub reserve catcher flied out ingloriously to Thomas.
Deal caused a momentary revival of interest with a single over third and McCabe was sent in to run for him.
Killefer put an end to the pastime by sending a long fly to right, which Hooper captured after a hard run.
The Star Spangled Banner Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of Boston Red Sox players, circa 1918.