Taking Back Our Stolen History
Mask Mandates for Professional Baseball Players go into Effect, How Pandemic Affected Other Sports
Mask Mandates for Professional Baseball Players go into Effect, How Pandemic Affected Other Sports

Mask Mandates for Professional Baseball Players go into Effect, How Pandemic Affected Other Sports

In 1919, during the second phase of the flu, baseball started amid the virus. At that time, the Allentown Morning Call reported on March 3, 1919, that all team members and umpires during baseball games were forced to wear masks. The MORNING CALL even reported that Truck Hannah of the Yankees was not permitted to take his mask off underneath his iron face guard.

By the time World War I and the global flu pandemic finally ended in 1919, American fans were more than ready to get back to watching sports.

The combination of the war and the virus had shortened the Major League Baseball season, decimated the college football season and prematurely ended hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals.

Fans not only returned to stadiums and arenas, their interest lifted sports into a new golden age. For sports today, a similar uptick in interest could be one silver lining once the current coronavirus pandemic is finally under control.

Baseball survived not only the war and pandemic but also the Black Sox scandal, in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate. The sport then thrived when Babe Ruth lifted it with his mighty bat and made the New York Yankees the game’s dominant organization.

The picture of a boxing match during the pandemic shows how many wore masks and many did not.

In boxing, Jack Dempsey won the heavyweight title in 1919 and became a must-see attraction, and New York state legalized the sport in 1920 after banning it three years earlier.

“Other states saw that New York was doing well, and they copied the New York model of the athletic commission,” said boxing historian Mike Silver, whose most recent book is “The Night the Referee Hit Back.” “Boxing exploded in the 1920s in popularity, mostly thanks to Jack Dempsey and his promoter, Tex Rickard. It actually was more popular than baseball during the ’20s.”

Health officials urged the wearing of face coverings in 1918 and 1919, and some cities mandated their use, but a notable resistance sprang up, with those resisting claiming forced use was a violation of personal liberty.

At least 18 college football teams didn’t play in 1918, including those in the Missouri Valley Conference, which at that time included Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. The season didn’t begin until October, and most games were played in November. Michigan and Pittsburgh shared the national championship, though neither team played more than five games.

A presidential edict led to baseball shortening its season because players weren’t considered essential workers and had to find a job or sign up for the war effort. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs in six games in the World Series, which ended Sept. 11, 1918, the final game attracting just 15,238 fans.

The Stanley Cup Final was declared a draw after five games between the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association because both teams were hit with the flu. Montreal, down to three healthy players, offered to forfeit, but Seattle declined. Future Hall of Famer Joe Hall of the Canadiens died April 5, 1919, four days after the Final was declared over.

“Life had pretty much gotten back to completely normal by January and February,” hockey historian Eric Zweig said of early 1919. “When April 1 came, they’re announcing all these guys are sick, it seems to have come from nowhere.”

A Dempsey fight in October 1918 was postponed, and six well-known boxers died during the pandemic.

In horse racing, the Triple Crown races — though they wouldn’t be called by that designation until 1930 — were run both years, but five jockeys died in 1918 from the flu.

Source: https://www.reviewjournal.com/sports/how-sports-survived-then-thrived-after-the-1918-pandemic-2085934/

read more here: https://www.si.com/college/tmg/tony-barnhart/spanish-flu