COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - The year 1940 brought a new tradition to the birthplace of baseball.
On June 13, the inaugural Hall of Fame Game, a contest featuring a team from the American and National Leagues of Major League Baseball, was played between two of the most iconic franchises in the game, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs won the very first game of the series defeating the Red Sox 10-9 in a seven-inning game that was shortened by rain as 3,500 fans looked on.
Chicago got the scoring started early with three runs in the top of the first inning off Red Sox starting pitcher Lefty Grove. The Cubs scored all of their runs in the first via the long ball including a leadoff homer by third baseman Stan Hack and a two-run shot by center fielder Jim Gleeson.
The Cubs lead didn’t last long, however, as the Red Sox quickly responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning.
Cubs’ starter Jake Mooty gave the lead right back with the damage starting right away in the second. He was greeted promptly with a home run by Ted Williams, the first of two on the day for the future Hall of Fame outfielder. Jim Tabor followed with a homer of his own, a two run blast to tie the game at 3-3.
Chicago jumped back into the lead in the third inning with a second round-tripper by Gleeson, and Boston knotted it back up with future Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx scoring on a wild pitch following his double.
After eight combined runs in the first four innings of play, the game went quiet until the seventh and final frame.
In the seventh, the two teams erupted for a combined 11 runs, the Cubs scoring six and the Red Sox five, falling one short of tying the game.
The six Chicago runs came on three hits, including another RBI for Gleeson, a two-run single and a home run. All of the damage came off Red Sox right-hander Emerson Dickman.
The Red Sox countered with a five-run bottom of the ninth. Three of the runs came on Williams’ second homer of the afternoon, but the Boys from Beantown fell one run short.
The Boston Red Sox taking some swings near Doubleday Field's home plate. BL-7663.92 (Frank Otto, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)