October 25, 2007

Fall Classic Leads to Series of Front-Page Thrills

The Boston Herald, Oct. 14, 1903 (Newseum collection)
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The Boston Herald, Oct. 14, 1903 (Newseum collection)

The Boston Post, Oct. 12, 1912 (Newseum collection)
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The Boston Post, Oct. 12, 1912 (Newseum collection)

The North American, Philadelphia, Sept. 29, 1920 (Newseum collection)
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The North American, Philadelphia, Sept. 29, 1920 (Newseum collection)

The Baltimore News, Oct. 1, 1932 (Newseum collection)
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The Baltimore News, Oct. 1, 1932 (Newseum collection)

The Evening Sun, Baltimore, Oct. 8, 1956 (Newseum collection)
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The Evening Sun, Baltimore, Oct. 8, 1956 (Newseum collection)

Since 1903, the Fall Classic — baseball’s World Series — has brought the thrill of the game to the pages of newspapers.

"The World Series is the best sports story going," said Mel Antonen, baseball writer at USA Today. "The characters are real and intriguing. Game strategy is altered with every pitching change or pinch-hitter. Unsung heroes emerge, and the results are as unpredictable as they can be. There’s a historic perspective that charms fans and ignites never-ending debates. And the World Series transports baseball fans back to their childhood."

Baseball’s annual championship is one of many classic sports stories found in the Newseum collection of more than 30,000 historic newspapers and in the Newseum’s News Corporation News History Gallery.

"All over! Hail, world’s champions!" The Boston Herald’s story began after the Boston Americans defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 in the final game of baseball’s first modern World Series. A fear of rain on Oct. 13, 1903, kept attendance at less than 7,500, the newspaper said, but there was excitement nonetheless.

There were no instant replays in 1908 when the question arose: Did New York Giant Fred Merkle touch second base in a pivotal regular-season game against the Chicago Cubs? Said The Providence (R.I.) Daily Journal:"Things were happening so fast all over the diamond about that time that it was hard to tell." The game was eventually declared a tie and replayed, and the Cubs won the National League pennant. They went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. The Chicago Daily Tribune said: "Cubs come back wearing a halo."

Attendance records were broken in 1912. The Oct. 12 Boston Post charted bonuses for the series players. "If Red Sox Win They Collect $4024.68 Each." The Boston Red Sox did win, besting the New York Giants in an eight-game series.

The aftermath of the 1919 World Series, in which the Cincinnati Reds defeated the favored Chicago White Sox, is remembered as one of baseball’s darkest moments. Rumors that White Sox players took cash from gamblers to throw the World Series were confirmed a year later. Eight Chicago players were pictured at the top of the Sept. 29 North American of Philadelphia: "Two of Eight Sox Players Indicted Confess to ‘Throwing’ Series Games." The newspaper’s exposé provided details of what became known as the Black Sox scandal.

The Yankees defeated the Cubs in the 1932 series known for its "called shot" by Babe Ruth. The Baltimore News pictured Ruth hitting a home run in his first appearance at bat in Game 3 on Oct. 1. In the fifth inning, Ruth reportedly responded to jeering from the Cubs dugout by gesturing and then hitting a second homer. "Babe’s Second Smash Longest Seen in Chicago Park," the News said.

A first in series history came on Oct. 8, 1956, when New York Yankee Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Evening Sun of Baltimore said: "Larsen stopped the Brooks cold as he electrified the crowd with a magical assortment of slow curves, fastballs and other breaking balls of various speeds." The Yankees won it in seven.

What historic event or topic in the news would you like us to feature next?

Send your suggestion to talktous@newseum.org.

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