Presented here is an outstanding artifact from a nearly forgotten episode in the history of wartime America: the War Bonds Jubilee event, presented on August 26 of 1943. This is an original gelatin silver news service photograph documenting that event, with seven of the 12 living Hall of Famers as of 1943, plus three who would eventually be enshrined.
By August of 1943, the Allied war effort in the Pacific was intensifying, and the United States was preparing to enter the European theater. At home, Americans were helping raise funds by purchasing war bonds. With a median income of $2,000 a year, asking Americans to dig deep and purchase bonds to help fund the war effort was no easy task, and the War Finance Committee enlisted the support of famous celebrities to help encourage people.
In 1943, New York Journal-American reporters Max Case and Bill Corum had the idea of assembling a team of All-Stars from the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to play against a team of All-Stars from the US Army. Hosted at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan, the “War Bonds Jubilee” became a massive event, featuring actors, singers, comedians and dance bands, and was capped by an exhibition of baseball’s all-time greats.
After the New York All-Stars beat the Army’s New Cumberland Reception Center team (a team that featured future Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Enos Slaughter) 5-2, the all-time All-Stars took the field. Sid Feder of the Associated Press chronicled the event as follows:
“There were still 35,000 lumps in 35,000 throats around the village Friday, all because a dozen old men walked out on a ball field. As they spread out on their regular spots on the field, the lump you got in your throat and the moisture in the eyes of some of the most blasé baseball writers in the press coop were more than enough to prove that the baseball fan is at least part elephant. He never forgets.
“It didn’t matter that in fielding some of Babe’s “practice shots” Murray fell down, Speaker was practically decapitated and Collins was all but carried into right field by a line drive. The folks had a look at ’em, and the Babe finally parked one. That was the icing on the cake.”
That home run, which the mighty Ruth served up against the great Walter Johnson, would be the last home run Babe Ruth ever hit in a major league ballpark.
The Jubilee would help sell a staggering $800 million in war bonds to help fund the American war effort.
The photo, taken in front of a full stadium, is one of the only remaining documents of the game, long lost to history. Featuring seven of the 12 living Hall of Famers at the time (missing are Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie, Cy Young, Pete Alexander, and Rogers Hornsby) and three future Hall of Famers, this is, perhaps, the greatest group of baseball players ever assembled. Featuring Duffy Lewis, Eddie Collins (HOF), Roger Bresnahan (HOF), Connie Mack (HOF), Bill Klem (HOF), Red Murray, George Sisler (HOF), Honus Wagner (HOF), Frankie Frisch (HOF), Babe Ruth (HOF), Walter Johnson (HOF), and Tris Speaker (HOF).
We’re thrilled to be offering such an important document of American history in our auction.