Muscle Sport Magazine

1918 MLB Season Shortened Due To World War 1


Major League Baseball had decided to shorten the 1918 season due to the United States of America entering ‘The Great War.’ The last games would take place on Labor Day, which fell on September 2 that year. The US Secretary of War Newton D. Baker had announced a “work or fight” mandate on July 1, but the ballplayers were granted an extension until Labor Day and later until the completion of the World Series. The Fall Classic ended on September 11 (Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs, four games to one) and the Armistice was signed on November 11, ending World War 1.

One of the games played on September 2, 1918 pitted two teams against one another who would not figure into the postseason. As a matter of fact, one of them – the Philadelphia Athletics – were glad to be done with yet another year finishing in the second division, holding up the basement at 52-76 (24 games out of first place). The Washington Senators actually had – for them – a very successful campaign (72-56), finishing third and only four games back.

The Athletics won the opener 5-2 and the Senators sent their fans home happy by taking the nightcap 8-3 in a wacky contest that included a coach pitching. Nick Altrock, 43, went to the pitcher’s mound in the eighth inning (his fifth appearance as a hurler that summer, mind you) and hit an inside-the-park home run (the only home run by a Senator at home that year) in the bottom of the inning. Altrock – known as a clown prince of the game – faced a position player named Wickey McAvoy (a catcher by trade, but who started at first base that day), who wasn’t exactly throwing smoke. The middle aged coach stroked one deep and actually missed both second and third base in his haste. But home plater umpire Billy Evans would not spoil all the fun and called Altrock safe, whose last home run came during his playing career in 1904.

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