The Red Sox and Dodgers will meet in the World Series on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Fenway Park. It’ll be the first time these two clubs have faced each other in October in years: Fenway itself was just a few years old the last time they met in the World Series, and the Dodgers weren’t even the Dodgers then — they were the Robins, and still in Brooklyn.
With all of the ways the game has changed since then, we decided we’d reach out to players from the last World Series that featured the Red Sox and the team that would become the Dodgers, to ask them about that series and the exciting 2018 iteration we’re yet to see.
We sent off some emails and made some phone calls to get those answers, and this is what we got back.
Changes in Offense
SB Nation: The Red Sox and Dodgers both have great offenses. You could even argue the Dodgers have a better one, once you adjust for their stadium and remember they led the National League in homers. Dingers weren’t a big part of the game back in 1916: how did the Red Sox offense succeed back then?
Larry Gardner, the 1916 Red Sox leader in OPS+, and the only player to hit a home run in the 1912 World Series: [Larry Gardner did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1976 at the age of 89]
SB Nation: Babe Ruth led the Red Sox with three homers, even though he was a pitcher. Do you wish the designated hitter existed back in 1916, so that Ruth could have swatted a few more big flies?
Tillie Walker, who also hit 3 homers in 1916: [Tillie Walker did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1959 at the age of 72]
Changes in Pitching
SB Nation: The 1916 World Series was played during what is known as the “Dead Ball” era — today, we’re concerned the baseballs are too slick and make it too easy to hit home runs. How much truth is there to the idea that baseballs in 1916 were made out of old socks and chewed up tobacco?
Rube Marquard, “Dodgers” ace and Hall of Famer: [Rube Marquard did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1980 at the age of 93]
SB Nation: The game has changed so much that, even though you had a 3.06 ERA and threw over 180 innings the year of this World Series, you were the worst Red Sox starter and a below-average arm. Do today’s numbers ever make your eyes pop out a little, metaphorically speaking?
Rube Foster, Boston’s worst starter in 1916: [Rube Foster did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1976, at the age of 88]
Changes in the Game
SB Nation: Major League Baseball didn’t allow black players to play in 1916, but you, Chief Meyers, a Native American, were an integral part of multiple World Series teams in your playing days. How did you wrestle, internally, with the struggle of your people, treated so horrifically throughout America’s bloody history, being allowed to play while another group of Americans who also dealt with racism, violence, and the worst tendencies of white America were no longer allowed to play “America’s Pastime”?
Chief Meyers, the “Dodgers” catcher: [Chief Meyers did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1971, at the age of 90]
SB Nation: They play the World Series at night now — how wild is that?
Casey Stengel, Hall of Fame player and manager: [Casey Stengel did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1975 at the age of 85]
SB Nation: With the way language has changed over the decades, it has to be kind of embarrassing, in 2018, to have an embarrassing “boner” named after you since previously “boner” used to just mean mistake. Today we’d call that baserunning mistake a “TOOTBLAN!”
Fred Merkle, the guy who has a boner named after him: [Fred Merkle did not respond to our inquiry; he died in 1956, likely due to the embarrassment of having a terrible boner named after him]
The 2018 World Series will be broadcast on FOX, starting Tuesday, October 23!