Press and Reviews
During the 2004 World Series, my book got some attention. You can read the articles here:
Portland Press Herald
Sports Illustrated --
Boston Globe -- Boston
Phoenix -- Boston
Baseball Weekly -- Robert W. Creamer -- Seven Days (Vt.)
Burlington (Vt.) Free Press -- Bergen (N.J.) Record
Publishers Weekly -- Library Journal -- Other Stuff
Sports Illustrated, Ron Fimrite
(June 11, 2001):
Was Boston's last victorious World Series -- way back in 1918 -- fixed? That possibility is suggested in the last chapter of this history of the long-ago encounter between the two classic also-rans of the modern game, the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Gambling was rampant then, and as we now know, the next World Series was definitely in the tank.
Wood, a sportswriter and music critic, only speculates about a crooked '18 Series. The rest of his book provides an entertaining and exhaustive account of a tumultuous season that was threatened and then shortened by the exigencies of World War I. This was also the year that Babe Ruth made what would soon become a permanent move from the mound to the outfield. Although later, as a Yankee, he was strictly a slugger, in 1918 Ruth demonstrated his astonishing versatility by pitching and powering Boston to its last world championship.
By then, Red Sox fans were notoriously jaded, what with five Series titles in 15 years and no end to the victory parade in sight. If only they had known.
Boston Globe, Gordon Edes
And if you haven't read it already, check out, 1918: Babe Ruth and the World Champion Boston Red Sox by Allan Wood, which asks, among other tantalizing questions, whether the fix was in the year before the Black Sox scandal.
Phoenix, Mark Bazer (June 7, 2001):
... Enter Allan Wood, who's emerged from countless hours buried in old Boston Globes, Posts, Evening Records and other local dailies to tell us a Red Sox tale with a happy ending. The Vermont native's first book is an intensely researched and entertaining read ...
The author understands that the usual game-by-game analysis and even the novelty of a Sox championship won't sustain a book. What made the 1918 season so unusual were the Great War, a narrowly avoided strike in the middle of the World Series, and the emergence of Ruth as a national superstar known as much for his bat as for his pitching arm.
Wood handles the potentially confusing nature of professional baseball's relation to the war especially well. Without overburdening the reader or losing sight of the pennant race, he reveals the chaotic nature of a league that was battling the government for the right to finish the season, all the while losing players to combat and war-related industries. Meanwhile, during a season in which his father died and he briefly quit the team, came down with tonsillitis, and battled management to pitch less and play in the field more, Babe Ruth still led the league in home runs and had a 2.22 ERA. And apparently he still managed to party and goof off every chance he got. ...
Wood [offers] compelling reporting on the off-the-field activity during the postseason. As different as the game was 80 years ago, the players' grievances and their near-strike over what they considered paltry World Series shares is a reminder that bitter feuds over money aren't a new phenomenon that has destroyed a once-innocent game.
[Wood] published this book himself ... A seasoned publisher ought to take note and, with a tight edit, give him a prominent spot on the vast Red Sox bookshelf.
Herald, Bob Clark (April 6, 2001):
We hardly need to be reminded that 1918 was the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, but how many know they did it with a patchwork team in a truncated season overshadowed by World War I? Allan Wood recaptures it well with particular emphasis on Ruth making the transition from pitcher to slugger and dominating headlines on and off the field.
Baseball Weekly (March 21-27, 2001):
Fresh research on the most "recent" of Bosox world championships uncovers possible evidence that this World Series (as was the case the following year) also might have been influenced by gamblers' wagers and ballplayers on the take.
Robert W. Creamer, author of Babe:
The Legend Comes to Life:
Mr. Wood has lit upon one of the most turbulent and important and at the same time least known years in baseball history. He has done remarkable, revelatory research, and he has a clean, clear way of writing.
Days, Camden Joy (May 30, 2001):
 is a richly detailed narrative of how Ruth's unprecedented slugging brought home the last world championship to Fenway Park. The scope of 1918 is bigger than Babe Ruth; it is nothing less than the story of a season under siege. By skillfully weaving sports biography into social history, Wood displays a patched-together pastime, its already crooked stitching unraveling further with the threat of war. ...
He reveals how the Red Sox operated in the day when Fenway had its stands full of gamblers and adolescent peanut vendors, and Boston's cold-hearted manager faced a clubhouse that was firmly divided along religious lines. Thoroughly dominating everyone's attention was one colorful character: the crude, generous Ruth, something of a cross between a pig and a teddy bear, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for liquor and women.
Although Ruth has been the subject of countless biographies, he continues to intrigue researchers. The great mystery, the legend of the unbelievable Babe, begins with Ruth's impoverished upbringing. Historically, the lives of the poor are written in faint pencil, easily smudged. Details are vague at best. Wood informs us that Ruth himself never even learned his own date of birth until he was almost 40 years old. Few noticed the street urchin slinking about the Baltimore waterfront at the turn of the century until, having been sent to a Catholic reformatory, he was introduced to a ballfield.
Why exactly was he sent to the reformatory? How did he come to be called "Babe?" Did his parents ever visit? How was his father killed? In a crisp tone tinged with healthy skepticism, Wood sets forth the Ruthian rumors and abundant contradictions. The legend, after all, permits only so much clarification. As with Shakespeare or Elvis, the Babe simply pounced from the shadows into the public eye. ...
[In 1918] for the first time in his major-league career, Ruth was positioned at something other than pitcher. Playing first base or left field, Ruth took the opportunity to show what he could do when permitted daily at-bats. ... [M]ost ballparks at the time were enormous -- but none had been built large enough for Ruth. It seems that anywhere he went, he nailed a pitch over the wall and out of the park, startling passers-by and smashing windows. ... "Every home run he launched during that season," writes Wood, "was described by the hometown press as 'the longest hit ever seen on the local grounds,' or some variation thereof."
What's sure to initiate blood-boiling debates in barber shops all over New England is Wood's contention that the Cubs may have intentionally thrown the series. Sox loyalties may wince, but the evidence appears pretty damning.
Wood's original research lends urgency to what is sure to become a classic sports book. The fleeting circumstances of baseball, its deceptive pace and sudden, petulant dramas, are rendered with a color and immediacy rarely found in synopses of the game's pre-radio days.
Burlington (Vt.) Free Press
(April 1, 2001):
... a thorough and well-researched book about who the players were in 1918 and whether the World Series that year was fixed."
Bob Klapisch, The
Bergen Record (April 8, 2001)
1918: one of five "picks for good summer reading".
Publishers Weekly (March 19, 2001):
The year 1918 is special for Red Sox fans the last year their team won the World Series. Growing up in Vermont, Allan Wood was one such fan, and in 1918: Babe Ruth and the World Champion Boston Red Sox, he explores his partisan obsession to the fullest. That series was marred by disputes between players and owners over revenues; indeed, the players almost called it off. It also marked the emergence of 23-year-old Babe Ruth, whom many still see as the greatest player the game has ever known.
Wood, who has copiously researched his subject, explores how this ancient triumph came to pass and raises the possibility that, like the infamous "Black Sox" series the following year, the 1918 series was fixed. This book's level of detail is excessive for anyone who isn't a hardcore sports fan but the questions it poses are certain to inflame New Englanders.
Library Journal (April 15,
The 1918 season was momentous for the Red Sox. It was played under wartime restrictions; it saw their fifth World Series crown the last to date; and the Bambino began to change from ace pitcher to slugging outfielder. Wood, a Red Sox fan and sportswriter, backtracks to George Herman Ruth's youth as a rebellious urchin who was reoriented to his Hall of Fame career under a mentor at a Baltimore orphanage. Wood proceeds to provide an admiring story of the Red Sox triumph, despite depleted rosters and threats of a government shutdown and players' strike.
There is a page devoted to "1918" at redsoxconnection.com
Transcript of an on-line chat I did on July 24, 2001