This is the last of 10 installments featuring significant White Sox moments from All-Star games past.
Two months after Babe Ruth helped usher in the Midsummer Classic in July of 1933, an equally significant star-studded affair took hold at Comiskey Park -- the East-West Negro League All-Star Classic.
If I could be transported in time to witness any single baseball event, this would be the one. You had Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, Willie Wells, Turkey Stearns and Mule Suttles all on the same field, and playing for an event that turned out to be bigger than the Negro League's version of the World Series, which was inconsistently structured ... when the leagues could agree to play it at all.
They chose Chicago because of its central location. Bad weather limited the attendance of the inaugural game to just shy of 20,000, but as each year passed, it became an event of increasing significance to the black community. As noted Negro League historian Larry Lester put it, "The East-West All-Star Game was the biggest event in black America except a Joe Louis fight."
(That quote is from this article. Read it. It's great.)
Comiskey Park served as the home for most of the games, including 1947, when Wrigley Field hosted Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. Even though it was played three weeks after the game's best white players rolled through the North Side, the East-West game outdrew its counterpart by 7,000 fans.
The East-West game's cultural impact was massive, and it would grow to extend beyond the black community. The talent on the field was too overwhelming for white fans and media to ignore, and the sheer popularity of the game made it quite possibly the primary factor in integrating the game.
The attention the game received was huge for fans of Negro Leagues history as well. There's not much footage of the players in motion, but of the clips you can see, Comiskey Park's open arches are often visible in the background.