In the late summer of 1918, a division of Massachusetts militia volunteers led the first unified American fighting force into battle in France, turning the tide of World War I. Meanwhile, the world’s deadliest pandemic—the Spanish Flu—erupted in Boston and its suburbs, bringing death on a terrifying scale, first to military facilities and then to the civilian population. At precisely the same time, amidst the surrounding ravages of death, a young pitcher named Babe Ruth rallied the sport’s most dominant team, the Boston Red Sox, to a World Series victory—the last the Sox would see for eighty-six years.

In this episode I I talk with Google executive Skip Desjardin about September 1918, a moment in history almost too cinematic to be real.

In September 1918, you will learn the sensational true stories that simultaneously struck America:

  • Nineteen-year-old “Ace of Aces” Lieutenant David Putnam from Massachusetts, who was shot down defending a US biplane from eight German aircrafts;

  • Maud Park, the suffragette whose pragmatism and tenacity gained her an audience with President Wilson to lobby for his support for the 19th Amendment;

  • The brief strike held by the Cubs and Red Sox before they took the field in Game Four of the World Series because they were outraged by the reallocation of the gate receipts;

  • The exemption of baseball players from the “work or fight” order until after the World Series, which upset fans’ sense of justice because their family members had not been given this privilege;

  • The Spanish Flu which spread veraciously, baffled doctors, and was under-reported due to a fear of causing mass panic.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

September 1918: War, Plague, and the World Series