Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Great American Eclipse, Baseball's World Series, and the number 9

On August 21, 2017, the first total solar eclipse visible across the united states since 1918 will occur, being dubbed the Great American eclipse. The lapse of time between the eclipses is roughly 99 years. Indeed, the number 9 seems to be significant factor when considering the two eclipses.

Eclipses in general occur in cycles called the Saros cycle, which is roughly 18 years between eclipses on a given Saros, 18 being a multiple of 9. The eclipse of 1918 was part of Saros 145 and the eclipse of 2017 is part of Saros 126 (doing a kabbalistic reduction, that is, adding all the individual numerals until a single-digit number is reached: 1+ 2 + 6 = 9). What is interesting to note is that these two cycles are spaced roughly nine years apart and what’s more, the first eclipse of the century for either Saros occurred in 1909, the last two digits being nine, and so these eclipse’s occupy all the years in the twentieth century ending with a multiple of nine (1909, 1918, 1927, etc…), including 1999, which has three 9’s. Moreover, the number 9 has the unique characteristic that all factors of 9, when the sum of the individual digits are added, always reduce to 9; therefore any multiple of 9 has a kabbalistic reduction equivalent to 9.

Looking at American events from 1918, one notices that in Baseball’s World Series, the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs. What is striking about that event is that neither team would win a World Series for the remaining of the century, making it a key date in the droughts that were later named the “Curse of the Bambino” for the Red Sox and the “Curse of the Billy Goat” for the Cubs, with the Cubs ending their drought just one year prior to the 2017 Great American Eclipse. The game of baseball itself lasts 9 innings and is comprised of 9 players per team. It was invented by a Theosophist, Abner Doubleday.

A dark cloud seems to have hovered over that 1918 World Series. It is one of only three Fall Classics where neither team hit a home run, the others being in 1906 and 1907, both of which the Cubs also played in. It remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September because of restrictions due to World War I. There were players threatening to strike due to low revenues and allegations have surfaced that the Cubs were involved in game fixing tactics due to pay disputes with their owner.[1]

For the Chicago Cubs, the number 9 turns up as a significant number in other ways as well. Their drought actually lasted between 1908-2016, a period of 108 years, a multiple of 9. Both 1908 and 2016 are reducible to 9. Also, The World Series where the curse of the Billy Goat supposedly originated occurred in 1945, one of the eclipse years ending in a multiple of 9. The Cubs were also strangely involved in the Mets’ famous miracle year. On September (the 9th month) 9, 1969, (at date full of 9’s)  in a critical Cubs/Mets pennant race game, a black cat walked between Cubs captain Ron Santo, and the Cubs dugout, after which the Mets won the series and began their remarkable run to the World Series.[2]

Now it would seem that the 1918 eclipse is more significant for the losers than the winners, the Boston Red Sox, who ended their drought of 86 years in 2004. However, if one looks at a famous Red Sox player who wore the number 9, Ted Williams, some interesting observations emerge. Williams was born in 1918, just twelve days before the Red Sox clinched the American League pennant. His number was retired in 1986, a year which the Red Sox lost in the World Series against the New York Mets and also the year where the “Curse of the Bambino” was first coined. It was the last time they played in the World Series before ending their drought 18 years later, a multiple of 9.

Moreover, the 1986 World Series was marked one the most famous baseball errors of all time. With just one out away from winning the World Series, Boston’s Bill Buckner, coincidently a former Chicago Cub, allowed a ball to pass between his legs at first base, allowing the Mets to mount an amazing comeback World Series victory.  Apparently Buckner was wearing a Cubs batting glove under his glove when he committed his error.[3]

In the year the Red Sox finally ended their drought, on August 31, 2004, Boston’s Manny Ramirez hit a foul ball into Section 9, Box 95, Row AA and struck a 16-old boy, knocking two of his teeth out. Coincidently, the boy apparently lived on a Sudbury farm once owned by Babe Ruth, the protagonist behind the “Curse of the Bambino”.[4] Moreover, on Wednesday, October 27, 2004, the Red Sox recorded the final out of their World Series victory during a total lunar eclipse.[5]  Let us hope that the teams in this year’s World Series will have better luck.  

[1] "Cubs threw 1918 World Series?". ESPN. April 20, 2011.
This article dedicated to Ferguson Jenkins

PS - Did anything significant happen in the 2017 World Series? I think so. The Houston Astros finally broke their 56-year World Series drought with their first win ever. They defeated both the Yankees and the Red Sox in the playoff season. It was their 18th year at Minute Maid Park. Astro Jeff Altuve was the AL season MVP. He wears number 27, a multiple of 9. George Springer was the World Series MVP. He was born September 19, 1989. The 1918 American eclipse saw the start of long droughts, the 2017 eclipse saw the ending of a long drought. I think that bookends these two events with a poetic sense of closure. In 2018, the Red Sox won their 9th World Series.

For more on this curious questions see: 
9 surreal facts to know about Angels' no-hitter honoring Tyler Skaggs 
see also
Of Baseball and Theosophy
Madame Blavatsky and the Birth of Baseball 

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