1918 World Series key in US love affair with national anthem

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CHICAGO (AP) - The national anthem has been a standard part of American sports games for the better part of a century.

Experts say Game 1 of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs helped pave the way. The game in Chicago was in the seventh inning when a Navy band started playing "The Star Spangled Banner." A Red Sox player and Navy veteran named Fred Thomas stood with a military salute on the field.

The crowd noticed and soon joined in. The New York Times reported that "a great volume of melody rolled across the field" and the song ended with cheers and "thunderous applause."

John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian, says the event helped the song become widely popular. It became the official national anthem in 1931.