The New York Yankees have been vaccinated against the flu, and they’re not the only ones. Many professional athletes have been vaccinated against the flu in order to protect themselves from the virus.
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The New York Yankees and the 1918 World Series
On September 5, 1918, the New York Yankees hosted the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The game was significant because it marked the return of Babe Ruth, who had been out with an injury since early August. The Yankees won the game 3–2.
The next day, news broke that a number of players on the Yankees and Red Sox had contracted influenza. The outbreak soon spread to other teams in the league and by September 10, Major League Baseball had suspended play.
The 1918 World Series was eventually canceled due to the outbreak. It is unclear whether any of the players who contracted influenza during the outbreak went on to develop pneumonia or died from the virus.
The 1918 World Series and the Influenza Epidemic
The 1918 World Series was notable for several reasons. It was the first time the Series had been played entirely in October, due to the lengthening of the baseball season that year in an effort to increase gate receipts. It was also the last time the Series ended in a tie, due to rain cancellations. Finally, and most tragically, it was played during the height of the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918–1919, which killed an estimated 50 million people.
ThePlayer’s Association asked team owners not to cancel games due to the epidemic, out of concern that doing so would jeopardize their negotiating position in upcoming salary negotiations. As a result, games were played during the peak of the illness’ spread in October 1918. Some players contracted influenza during the Series and one player, Detroit Tigers third baseman Ossie Vitt, died from complications related to the disease.
Despite these tragic circumstances, the Series was a huge financial success, thanks in part to extensive promotion by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert even arranged for his team to be vaccinated against influenza before they took the field. It is not known whether any other teams were vaccinated, but it is likely that at least some players on both teams had already been exposed to the disease and were thus immune.
The 1918 World Series and the Vaccine
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series was played against the backdrop of the 1918 flu pandemic, which caused the death of more than 500,000 people in the United States and millions worldwide. Prior to the Series, several players on both teams contracted the flu and several died, including Boston’s manager Ed Barrow’s 14-year-old son.
Despite the grim circumstances, the Series was a huge success, with fans flocking to see the games. After the Red Sox won game six, clinching the championship, a celebratory meal was held at Boston’s Copley Square Hotel. It was there that players from both teams were given an experimental vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.
The vaccine had not yet been proven effective and there is no way to know if it had any impact on preventing the spread of flu during the Series. However, it is believed to be the first time a mass vaccination program was used in an effort to control a disease outbreak.
The 1918 World Series and the Aftermath
The 1918 World Series was significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the first time that the Series had been played in October, due to the outbreak of World War I. Secondly, it was the last time that the Boston Red Sox would win a World Series until 2004. Finally, and most importantly, it was during this World Series that several members of the New York Yankees were exposed to the Spanish Flu, which would later kill thousands of people across the United States.
The Spanish Flu pandemic began in early 1918 and quickly spread around the world. By October, it had reached New York City, where it would claim the lives of more than 12,000 people. Given the close proximity of the Yankees and Red Sox players during the World Series, it is not surprising that several members of both teams were exposed to the virus.
Despite this, both teams continued to play until Game 8, when the Yankees finally emerged victorious. However, their victory was short-lived as several players soon fell ill with the Spanish Flu. The most notable victim was Babe Ruth, who was hospitalized for two weeks and missed the start of the 1919 season.
While Ruth eventually recovered from his illness, others were not so lucky. Several members of both teams died from complications related to the Spanish Flu, including Red Sox star Harry Hooper and Yankees catcher Wally Schang. In all, more than 100 Major League Baseball players are thought to have succumbed to the virus.
The 1918 World Series thus stands as a reminder of both the triumphs and tragedies that can befall even the greatest baseball teams. It is also a reminder of how quickly a deadly virus can spread – even in something as seemingly innocuous as a baseball game.