“The Game of the Year”
Baseball teams from Macomb and Colchester were scheduled to play a five-game series in mid-1921.
The series was tied 2-2 after four games with the deciding 5th game scheduled for September 11.
The game was played at the Macomb fairgrounds in front of more than 1,600 people.
The contest was about to begin when a car pulled up and three of the infamous Chicago Black Sox (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ed Cicotte and Swede Risberg) got out and joined the Colchester team.
Despite protests from the Macomb side, the three players, who were acquitted of fixing the 1919 World Series but still banned by the commissioner of baseball, were allowed to play.
It’s believed that infamous bootlegger Kelly Wagle of Colchester was responsible for the Black Sox players making their way to Macomb.
Reports are that the crowd heckled the three players throughout the game, going after Cicotte for wearing red, white, and blue socks and Jackson for not serving in the military during WWI.
Colchester ended up winning the game on September 11, 1921 by a score of 5-0.
RECREATION OF THE GAME OF THE YEAR
Sue Scott is the curator for the Western Illinois Museum in Macomb.
She says the museum was looking for an opportunity to bring some local history to life and several members thought the Game of the Year” provided a great option.
“We are trying to show that our community is rich in history,” says Scott, “baseball, buildings, cars, people.”
Scott says the research phase got underway in preparation for the big game on July 28, 2012.
As the big day drew near, the teams were determined through a silent auction. The final rosters were as follows:
Macomb : Max Kreps, Ron Walker, Dave Clements, Frank Jobe, Dave Arnold, Ryan Walker, Patrick Stout, Terry Faulk, Neil Armstrong & Danny Hamm.
Colchester : Ryan Dorethy, Michael McClintock, Curt Harvey, Joe Glenn, Kevin Timlin, Michael Dicer, Mike Kolar, Ken McClintock, John Reynolds, James Reynolds & Ryan Sullivan.
The organizers of the recreation of the “Game of the Year” could not have asked for a better day for a baseball game.
The never-ending days of blazing sunshine and triple digit temperatures gave way to slightly overcast skies and a high temperature around 80-degrees on July 28, 2012.
They tried to stay true to 1921, with traveling vendors selling popcorn and peanuts, a softer baseball for the game, and a $0.50 admission fee.
Ginger Rexroat of Colchester spent time in the stands behind home plate and in the grassy areas near the dugouts.
She watched the game and took pictures with the camera she kept around her neck.
Rexroat says she attended because she loves Colchester and its history.
“And it’s baseball and we love baseball,” says Rexroat. “It is just a nice wholesome place to spend an afternoon.”
Rexroat also had a personal connection to the original game.
“There is a gentleman playing in place of Mr. Reynolds and our banker down in Colchester (Mark Reynolds),” says Rexroat. “His grandfather was actually the Reynolds who played on this team and Mark and Jane are good friends of ours.”
Rexroat says it was nice to experience history brought back to life. She also really enjoyed the product on the field, especially Frank Jobe, who played center field for the Macomb team.
At age 75, Jobe provided one of the highlights of the day when he stole second base in the third inning. He scored on the second of back-to-back base hits, putting Macomb up 2-1.
Jobe says he enjoyed surprising people with his speed on the base paths.
The game eventually ended in a 3-3 tie after 5 innings. The players waived off the idea of extra innings, deciding to call it a day.
The game proved to be a success for the Western Illinois Museum.
Curator Sue Scott says it raised about $2,000 and generated several new members.
She says there is already talk of a repeat performance.
Frank Jobe says he would be willing to take the field again, even at the ages of 76, 77, or even 78.
“I think this is just the start of something special and I think it will grow” says Jobe. “I think we will get more participation from people around the community and I think people will be more than happy to come out again. If I am still kicking… I will be here.”
Many of the players echoed those sentiments as they walked off the field at Macomb High School.