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JULY 6, 1933: THE GAME OF THE CENTURY: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4  



JULY 6, 1933




   “THE CHICAGO CENTENIAL OF PROGRESS EXPOSITION.” The title sounded impressive enough. It spoke of mighty forces creating wonders never seen before. A city working hand in hand with science and industry and dynamic social forces, the purpose being to forge a better life, a progressive vision for its inhabitants and yes, even for the world itself.

   In truth it could have been said to have been accurate. Chicago, paced by it’s slaughter houses which fed beef to the world, and it’s industrialized mentality which found it’s fruition in it’s gigantic factories and tough, calloused workers, had shown depression buffeted America how to keep on existing in those tough times.

   To tell everyone how they accomplished all this it was necessary to showcase their achievements in an exposition, and the Centennial was a perfect showcase. The crowning jewel of all this would be a Worlds Fair, the likes of which would have never been seen before. As it turned out, it pretty much filled that description. Gigantic towers and steel structures were assembled. Gardens and pools were constructed, Comfortable benches flanked paths which allowed easy passage to all of the exhibits displayed in the buildings. Inside could be found the newest automobiles from around the world, appliances designed to make, “Everyman’s” life easier, agricultural surprises fashioned from newly discovered genetic and hybrid sources, clothing from all corners of the world, furniture both useful and outlandishly impractical that took everyone’s breath away, and so it went.

   It was wonderful but something more had to be added. Something that had not been part of a Worlds Fair before and something that would make this one unique. What would it be?

   For 25 years Arch Ward had worked for the Chicago Tribune as its very distinguished and well respected sports editor. For about a month now he had been mulling over something the city fathers had proposed to him. “Arch, we need a special event for the fair, a blockbuster that would really stand out. You know sports plays an awfully big part in American life and baseball is the biggest sport of them all……maybe you can come up with some idea for us…… something that will really be outstanding.”

   For a few days now an idea had been skittering around in his mind. Everybody loved the World Series and everybody watched those exhibitions where Babe Ruth or Walter Johnson would lead a team comprised of some of the best players around and they played against each other. Yeah, not a bad idea……the best against the best……superstar against superstar. Maybe, and here’s a good idea…maybe we can have the National League play the American league…

but it would be the best players from each league. The managers could pick them…….no better yet, why not have the fans decide who is to play. Later the managers could add whoever they wanted too. What a terrific idea. Wonder if it would work? What would be good would be to just have it as a one time event, just like the Worlds Fair and even better we’ll give all the profits to that newly founded player’s pension fund. Heck some of the players could certainly use the money. This is getting better and better.

   Ward went to the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. And the Tribune agreed to pay for whatever expenses the game accrued. The next hurdle would be Commissioner Landis and one never knew what his mood would be from moment to moment. Not to worry. Landis thought it was a splendid concept and even suggested a date, July 6, since that was an open date for both leagues.

   The club owners however were the ones who gave Ward trouble. Some of them felt that they might be taking a chance with their players getting hurt during the game, but in the end Ward won them over. 





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