By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham
We give our two cents about the most important events from 1917
Four years ago, we had an idea for a post that came from our frustration with year end columns definitively declaring winners and losers for the previous twelve months while also predicting what the year’s ultimate legacy would be. As historians, though, we felt that these columns could not be written in the moment, as we need time to truly assess the important moments that come to define a give year.
With that, the Year in Review (100 Years Later) was born. (You can catch up on 1914, 1915 and 1916 before jumping into 1917) We adopted a March Madness style bracket and each year we select 16 finalists and narrow it down through a series of head-to-head match-ups to determine the most important event from that year.
Certain trends have emerged through the years. The first, and most important, is that we have eliminated all things from the First World War. We’ve done this for a couple reasons: first, our friends at Canada’s First World War have you covered on all things Great War. Second, the war would dominate the bracket and we want to highlight some lesser known developments that still influence our lives today – although to my great disappointment there is nothing aviation related this year.
Our brackets this year are the International Bracket, the Cultural Bracket, the Politics Bracket, and, everyone’s favourite, the Potpourri Bracket.
1) Order of the British Empire Inaugurated v. 4) Honus Wagner Retires
Sean: The first time I submitted a SSHRC application, I was applying to do a Master’s degree in England and actually wrote the words that it would be interesting to go to school in “the mother country.” It was a simpler time back then. Although, maybe I was just starting my campaign to be appointed to the Order of the British Empire. The OBE celebrates its 100th anniversary this year after being established by King George V during the First World War as a way to commemorate contributions to British society. With its five classes, two of which make you a knight or a dame, OBE appointments are made from recommendations by the United Kingdom and participating Commonwealth countries. Canada, though, not longer makes nominations because of the establishment of the Order of Canada. India, Pakistan, and Nigeria have similarly created their own honours.
Honus Wagner retired from baseball in 1917 after a 21-year career. Playing most of his career in Pittsburgh, Wagner won 8 batting titles and was part of the 1909 World Series champions. Apart from his Hall of Fame exploits on the field, however, Wagner may be better known today for his T206 baseball card, which is the rarest sport collectable in the world. With few copies remaining, the card rarely goes up for option, but when it does look out. A copy sold last year for $3.12 million, or as well call it around these parts, Aaron’s bar tab.
Between these two, I have to throw my support to Honus Wagner. The OBE has provided some cool things, like Dame Edna (she’s in it right?), but it’s a vestige of a by-gone era of British colonialism that has lost much of its relevance today. Wagner on the other hand, is still held up as one of the best players of all time and the story of his card will ensure that his name remains part of the culture in the future.
Slumming on Park AvenueAaron: What?!? Honus Wagner?!? I think you used by bar tab to come up with this conclusion. I have never heard of Honus Wagner and his 21-year career is no match for the OBE. I am no monarchist, but I believe that the Order of the British Empire is more important. What bothers me more is that you truly believe that Wagner is more important…
Sean: I really do. The OBE has been, too often, a way for rich people to celebrate other rich Slumming on Park Avenuepeople. It’s the Oscars of national awards. Plus, it’s part of a colonial tradition that rewards behaviour that has been damaging to millions of people. Wagner, on the other hand, was a terrific ballplayer who has remained a standard bearer for judging hitters. That is card is still relevant and sought after – not to mention subject to this terrific short documentary – tells me that he is more relevant to the average person in 2017 than the OBE.
Honus Wagner Retires Wins (75-74)
2) John F. Kennedy Born v. 3) First Synagogue Built in Madrid in 425 Years