Technically, this is the first time the Dodgers and Red Sox have played each other in a World Series. These two teams, with their current names and current cities, have never faced each other in a Fall Classic. But back in 1916 the Boston Red Sox and the Brooklyn Robins played, with Boston winning four games to one.
The Robins actually used the Dodgers nickname starting around 1910 (stemming from the “Trolly Dodgers” nickname taken from Brooklyn trolley dangers), but their legal name was either the Robins or the Brooklyn Base Ball Club. So for the sake of this little exercise we’re going to count them as the Dodgers an take a look back at how the world was different the last time this matchup happened.
Here’s what made 1916 so different from 2018.
- The average life expectancy was 49.6 years old for men and 54.3 years for women.
- The first supermarket in the country opened. It was a Piggly Wiggly. America!
- Hamburger buns were invented by the eventual founder of White Castle, which would open five years later.
- A movie ticket cost seven to ten cents on average.
- D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance was the number one movie of the year, followed by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Joan the Woman.
- Gregory Peck, Olivia de Havilland, Kirk Douglas, and Betty Grable were all born.
- A union plumber was paid 69 cents an hour. (....Nice.)
- A dozen eggs cost 34 cents.
- The first Tournament of Roses game was played, with Washington State beating Brown 14-0.
- Lincoln Logs were invented, so you could give your annoying kids something to play with while you listened to the Tournament of Roses game on the radio. Which actually wouldn’t be something fans could do for another seven years.
- A massive war involving multiple countries and thousands of troops was ongoing, and it seemed like it would never end.
- The Red Sox had some really “only in Boston” names like Marty McHale, Duffy Lewis, Hick Cady, and Chick Shorten.
- Similarly, Brooklyn’s roster had some truly “Brooklyn ball player or New York mobster” names like Gus Getz, Mack Wheat, Bunny Fabrique, and Leon Cadore.
- There were no reasonable minimum wage laws in most areas of the country.
- Common advice was that rent shouldn’t take up more than a fifth of your monthly pay, but average pay and average rent/home buying prices made that nearly impossible to abide by for many people, with the average wages totally less than $700 a year and home prices averaging above $3,200.
- Then-president Woodrow Wilson gave speeches that denigrated and stoked fear of immigrants. Including speeches like,
There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue. Their number is not great as compared with the whole number of those sturdy hosts by which our nation has been enriched in recent generations out of virile foreign stock; but it is great enough to have brought deep disgrace upon us and to have made it necessary that we should promptly make use of processes of law by which we may be purged of their corrupt distempers. America never witnessed anything like this before.”
- The country would pass the Immigration Act of 1917 just one year later, which required literacy tests, banned immigration from Asian and Oceanic countries, and established categories of banned immigrants.
- The country was also on the verge of repressing voices of “dissent” such as shutting down anti-war magazines, or government raids of the National Civil Liberties Bureau and the Socialist Party.
- Fenway Park was filled with a bunch of white, racist fans who definitely did not want black people playing baseball.
Okay, so, maybe 102 years ago wasn’t so different after all.