How The New York Times Covered the 1916 World Series

How The New York Times Covered the 1916 World Series


The only other time the Red Sox and Dodgers franchises faced off in the World Series, things were a little different. The Red Sox opted to play their home games at Braves Field rather than the smaller Fenway to make some extra admission money. The Dodgers were known as the Robins, or sometimes the Superbas. And they played in Brooklyn. The event was lowercase and had an apostrophe: “world’s series.”

The New York Times was a little different too, as you can tell from the colorful (at times purple) prose it once used. Here’s how The Times reported the four-games-to-one Red Sox victory.

The lead: “The withered stalk of the baseball season burst with a crash into radiant bloom at Braves Field today. The Superbas, pride of Brooklyn and of the National League, and the carmine-hosed Boston warriors scrambled for the petals of the first blossom.”

Keen analysis: “The workaday laws of mathematics would make 6 to 5 pretty close, whether the enumerated objects were peanuts, subway tickets or runs. As a matter of cold fact, however, the initial contest of the champion teams of the major leagues for world’s honors and worldly wealth was one-sided.”

Colorful writing: “An unwelcome breeze played merrily, but frigidly, around the gaunt limbs in the press box eyrie, and shivering creatures thought lovingly and longingly of the ‘woolen ones’ reposing in bureau drawers at home.”

Puzzling prose: “He smote Cutshaw athwart the floating ribs with an inshoot.”

The lead: “Under lowering gray skies that finally yielded splashing tears of sympathy for a team mighty even in defeat, the Brooklyn Superbas went down today before the Boston Red Sox in the second encounter of the world’s series.”

Keen analysis: “In complexion, the game of this afternoon was as much like that of Saturday as Lillian Russell resembles Sun Yat Sen.”

Colorful writing: (On starting pitchers Sherry Smith and Babe Ruth, who each threw complete games) “Foot to foot through fourteen grueling innings they struggled, each averting many times by calm, masterly work threatening downfall. Repeatedly when the tiniest kind of a safe blow would have wrought damage, each man held the enemy in a grip of steel.”

Puzzling prose: “When the rays were ruddy to the onlookers boasting allegiance to the sacred codfish, they were tinged with indigo for partisans of the rubber-plant jungle just forninst the eastern end of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The lead: “It was not so much the way they did it, as what they did that boomed the Brooklyn Superbas’ world’s series stock yesterday.”

Keen analysis: “Almost any ball game would pale in comparison with the fiery battle fought in the second game of the series. Therefore, it is not unduly belittling yesterday’s encounter to rate it as decidedly inferior in interest and merit to its immediate predecessor.”

Colorful writing: “No better evidence of this could be adduced than the gyrations of joy indulged in all over the spacious greensward at the game’s close by thousands of dancing, yelling, leaping fans, who swarmed from stands and bleachers as Stengel’s fingers closed on Lewis’s fly for the final put-out, and moved in grotesque parade about the field.”

Puzzling prose: “The way they did it was by subtracting only 25 per cent of the spice from their gingery game of Monday’s Boston matinee, while the dish that Chief Carrigan set forth was minus at least 40 per cent of its previous seasoning.”

The lead: “Lord Ebbets, the Squire of Flatbush, had many callers yesterday at his spacious estate. They arrived in taxicabs and trolley cars. They departed in high dudgeon and low spirits.”

Keen analysis: “Yesterday all the punch they had after the first inning could have been applied to a baby’s cheek without inflicting serious damage.”

Colorful writing: (On Boston pitcher Dutch Leonard, who started shakily before settling down) “After giving the hopes of local fandom the pleasant thrills of a rapid ascent to the mountain peak, he cast them from the summit and they were dashed to bits on the cruel rocks below.”

Puzzling prose: “Marquard was an easy victim on a grasser to Leonard.”

The lead: “The Red Sox celebrated Columbus Day in their home town by wresting the world’s championship banner free from the trembling, nerveless fingers of the Superbas.”

Keen analysis: “The score of today’s final battle was 4 to 1. If it had been 40 to 1, it would have represented more accurately the respective merits of the two contending teams.”

Colorful writing: “As a contest it resembled a tug of war between an elephant and a gold fish.”

Puzzling prose: “Dear old Tallapoosa College, of Thee I Sing, would have had quite as good a chance to halt the striding Boston team.”

“They piled on to the field, and for half an hour indulged themselves in a parade with the Royal Rooters, in which they visited the dugouts of both teams, only to find that the players had vanished.”



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