Year In Review : 1917 American League
Off the field...
The United States officially declared war on Germany as imperial, territorial, and economic rivalries led to the "Great War" between the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and Turkey) and the Allies (U.S., Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Romania, Montenegro, Portugal, Italy, Japan). In the end, ten million combatants were killed and over twenty million were wounded.
American painter and illustrator James Montgomery Flagg designed over forty-five patriotic posters including the "I Want You" edition that featured Uncle Sam and attracted thousands of recruits to register for WWI military duty. Flagg also wrote for Life Magazine and Judge, and even acted in silent films. These were so well received that during World War One he was asked to write promotional films for both the Marines and the Red Cross. After the war, it was the magazines of America that were his gallery and nearly every major publisher featured his art at one time or another.
In the American League...
New York Yankees lefty George Mogridge tossed a 2-1 no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on April 24th for the second of an American League record five no-hitters.
American League president Ban Johnson instructed all AL umpires not to tolerate unnecessary delays. His statement was in support of a complaint by Charles Comiskey that protested some managers and players who he felt were intentionally stretching games to two hours or more.
On September 15th, the Washington Senators' Harry Harper and Walter Johnson tossed back-to-back shutouts (5-0, 4-0) during a double header against the Philadelphia Athletics.
In the National League...
In April, the Cincinnati Reds purchased Olympic icon Jim Thorpe from the Giants, but eventually sent him back to New York in August. Thorpe never experienced the same success on a baseball diamond that he had in the Olympics and retired after an undistinguished six-season career.
On May 26th, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Walton Cruise became the first player ever to hit a ball out of Braves Park. His four-hundred two foot blast landed in the twenty-five cent stands in right field (known as the "Jury Box"). Amazingly, the next ball hit out of the park also came off the bat of Cruise (1921) when he returned as a Boston Brave.
Hank Gowdy of the Boston Braves became the first Major League player to enlist in the armed forces after he registered with the Ohio National Guard. During the war, Gowdy saw considerable action in France and after he returned in 1919, he shared Boston's catching duties before he was re-acquired by the New York Giants in 1923.
Around the league...
Organized Baseball officially terminated relations with the union, leaving the players without representation. Players Fraternity president, Dave Fultz, called off a strike in which the players were attempting to eliminate a ten-day clause, in which teams refused to pay any injured player after ten days.
America's entry into WWI combined with an unusually wet spring to postpone forty-eight National League games in the first month. As a result, half of all Major League clubs showed losses for the year and eight of twenty Minor League teams folded before the end of the season. On a side note, the American League petitioned the United States Army to assign drill sergeants to each team for daily pre-game drills.
In June, 21,000 New York fans were treated to inter-league play as the Giants and Yankees met for the first Sunday game in the "Big Apple" (a war charity exhibition).