The Game of the Century

June 27th, 2013by Peter AlterFiled under: Collections, Exhibitions

On July 6, 1933, Comiskey Park on the South Side hosted perhaps the greatest assemblage of baseball talent ever seen. At 1:15 p.m., future Hall of Famer and New York Yankee Lefty Gomez threw the first pitch of the inaugural Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

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Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez, Comiskey Park, 1930
Chicago History Museum, SDN-069890

Mayor Ed Kelly wanted to hold a major sporting event while Chicago hosted the A Century of Progress International Exposition, so Chicago Tribune editor and sports promoter Arch Ward organized the Game of the Century. Ward and team owners expected the exhibition between the top players of the American and National Leagues to be a one-time event. It caught on, though, and the best major leaguers have come together every year since, except for 1945.

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Future all-star players and Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (left) and Lou Gehrig with Yankee manager Bob Shawkey between them, Comiskey Park, 1930
Chicago History Museum, SDN-069912

Future Hall of Famer, Yankee, and 1933 all-star Babe Ruth autographed this baseball during the festivities at Comiskey. Many other major leaguers’ signatures surround the Sultan of Swat’s moniker, although he’s the only ’33 all-star to sign. White Sox pitcher and future Hall of Famer Ted Lyons is arguably the second most prominent player to autograph it.

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All-Star game ball signed by Babe Ruth, 1933
Chicago History Museum, ICHi-67246

In the bottom of the third with the Americans up 1–0, Ruth stepped up to the plate. He saw Charlie Gehringer, a future Hall of Famer and Detroit Tiger on base. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Wild Bill Hallahan stood on the mound. The Babe smacked a Hallahan pitch over the right field fence for a two-run homer, giving the home team a 3–0 lead. Former White Sox pitcher Joe Benz just happened to be sitting in the right field stands and caught Ruth’s blast. He later returned the home run ball to the Babe. Ruth’s team went on to defeat the Nationals, 4–2.

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White Sox pitcher Joe Benz, Comiskey Park, 1913
Chicago History Museum, SDN-058684

Stop by the Museum this summer to see the 1933 All-Star Game ball, our next Unexpected Chicago artifact, which will be on display in the Kolver Family Lobby beginning Thursday, July 4.

> Baseball’s most infamous scandal is now on Tumblr

> Learn more about the A Century of Progress International Exposition

> Read more about Comiskey Park

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