Ruth drew crowds despite pandemic

With a deadly pandemic that resulted in millions of deaths, baseball fans still gathered in thousands to watch arguably the best to play America's pastime .



April 10, 2020 - 3:25 PM

Babe Ruth shakes hands with the 29th president of the United States, Warren Harding. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images/TNS

HARTFORD, Conn. — The third week of September 1918 was indeed an exciting time for Hartford and its sports fans. The Red Sox had wrapped up a championship season, shortened by The Great War, on Sept. 11 when Babe Ruth defeated the Cubs, 2-1, in Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park. And as the pandemic that would kill more Americans than the Civil War was storming through Connecticut, so was Ruth, age 23 and already baseball’s biggest attraction, a man who could not possibly have grasped the concept of social distancing.

The Babe lived to draw crowds, and his postseason tour drew 5,000 fans to the Hartford Baseball Grounds off Wethersfield Avenue on Sept. 15, and 3,000 more when he returned on Sept. 23.

Though there is no indication that anyone thought to cancel these games, staged to benefit Hartford’s soldiers fighting in Europe, and Ruth didn’t disappoint — but this was obviously not the time.

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