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When the All-Star Game of 1934 opened in the Polo Grounds, Detroit's Charley Gehringer hit Carl Hubbell's fourth pitch for a single and ran to second base as Wally Berger fumbled in center field. With the game four pitches old, the American League had a runner in scoring position.
Pitching to Heinie Manush, Hubbell tried to shave the strike zone and missed four times. Now there were runners on first and second with none out. Waiting to bat were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx. The National League's beet-red catcher, Gabby Hartnett, trudged out to the mound.
"Hub," he said, "just throw that thing. It always gets me out."
Three times against Ruth, Hub threw that thing—his left-handed screwball. The Babe struck out. Gehrig got three. As he struck out, Gehringer and Manush worked a double steal. Right-handed Jimmy Foxx wore the half-smile of greedy anticipation which the sight of a left-handed pitcher always brought to his wide mouth. One of his three strikes was a foul, not very loud. The side was retired.
Starting the second inning, Al Simmons struck out. So did Joe Cronin, and then Bill Dickey singled. That's how they always tell the story of the most memorable individual performance in 21 All-Star Games. Never anything like it before or since, they say; five of the world's most dangerous batters polished off in a row.
"My friend!" an embittered Gomez snarled at Dickey. "It's going down in history that Hub struck out five of the greatest hitters of all time. If you don't louse it up, it could be seven of the greatest—including Gomez."
In baseball's 21 midsummer circulation campaigns for the Chicago Tribune, other names besides Hubbell's have been celebrated, other games besides that second one have been memorable. There was the ninth, for example, played before 54,674 witnesses in Detroit's [Briggs] Stadium.
Beaten in five of the first eight games, the Nationals led this one, 5 to 3, with one out in the latter half of the ninth inning. Arky Vaughan, of the Pirates, had batted in four runs with two homers and had added a single in the National League cause. Ted Williams had doubled home a run for the Americans, flied out and taken a called third strike.