The year was 1923. It's the year that Yankee stadium was first built. Babe Ruth hit 42 homers that season, with an astonishing .393 batting average. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series that year in six games against the NY Giants.
But before that would happen, the Yankees would play a game in Peanutville, as Allentown was called. In those days, major league teams often played exhibition games on their off days so players could add a few bucks to their pockets. The baseball gods had already smiled on Allentown once in 1894, sending Mike "King" Kelly to wreak havoc against the menace from Easton. Nearly thirty years later, they would smile again, sending the American League champions for a game against a little known team called the Allentown "Dukes."
The game was played before 4,000 screaming fans in what has been called Edgemont or Allentown Park. Mayor Gross posed for a picture with the Babe, who is holding his 36 inch, 37 ounce war club like a gentleman's walking cane. During batting practice before the game, the sultan of swat wowed the crowds several times by "lifting the apple over the fence."
Once the game got underway, the Yankees dominated, and were leading 7 to 1 at the beginning of the seventh. Then the Dukes exploded, and the game was suddenly 7 to 6.
Babe Ruth trotted out to face George "Scrap Iron" Papsin, who was now hurling for the Dukes. Here's how the Bambino himself describes that encounter to an Allentown Morning Call reporter. "'That boy has something on the ball, he crossed me up all around,' said Ruth as he reached for the water dipper. 'I wanted to knock that first ball a mile, and when I missed that fast one I figured that he was going to throw me a slow one. Instead it was a fast hook inside. The third one looked good, and I bit for it. I missed it though.'"
When the dust had settled after nine innings, the Dukes were victorious, 8 to 7. The major part of the Yankee starting line-up had played all nine innings, fighting for the win. But the baseball gods smiled on Allentown that day. Their Dukes beat the World Series champions on a field that no longer exists in a game that is all but forgotten.