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Wrigley Field overflow crowd

Wrigley Field overflow crowd

July 17, 1937: Over 30,000 fans crowd the 22,000-seat Wrigley Field for a celebrity charity baseball game for Mt. Sinai Hospital. The Los Angeles Times caption reported the next day that “The overflow crowd was stationed in the outfield but no ground rules were necessary as none of the contestants was able to wallop the ball that far…”

In a Times story the next morning, Bill Henry reported:

Since it was played in the sweet name of Charity, it’ll have to go down in history as a ball game that 30,000 sweating, shoving, movie-struck and thoroughly delighted spectators saw at Wrigley Field yesterday for the benefit of the Mt. Sinai Hospital.

If you’re going to be technical, the Cinema Comedians beat the Hollywood Leading Men, 7 to 6, but, on the other hand, the leading men looked a lot funnier than the comedians, so that makes it all even.

Officials of Wrigley Field, who have clapped their hands and jumped for joy when as many as 5000 customers showed up for a Coast League game, discovered that all they need to do to jam the park is to hire Robert Taylor to coach at third base and Joe. E. Brown to play second and their problem is solved. Funny they never thought of it before.

The crowd had the park full shortly after noon and by 2 p.m. with the 22,000 seats filled and thousands jamming the aisles and runways and when thousands more began swarming in the outfield they started turning ‘em away. If they’d have had a big enough field the Mt. Sinai folks could have bought the County Hospital building with the proceeds…

…the comedy team of Olsen and Johnson arrived in a car, which believe it or not, contained twenty-three people, mostly midgets, fourteen assorted dogs and twenty-one pigeons. Two of the pigeons helped the three Ritz Brothers play left field and the rest of the birds flew around in the grandstand and gave the spectators below something to worry about.

High lights of the affair included Mitchell and Durant (photo on right) batting as a team, one on the other’s shoulders, and then engaging in a brawl all the way around the bases…

Arthur Treacher, the British actor noted for his impersonation of the perfect English butler, attempted to serve tea in accordance with the best British tradition during the third inning….

The game was called after only four innings — which had lasted two hours.

Wrigley Field was built in 1925 and was torn down in the 1960s. Headlined “Park Place,” Times staff writers Lance Pugmire and David Wharton wrote this 2002 article on Wrigley Field.

The panoramic view was made by a Los Angeles Times artist by combining three different prints shot by an unknown Times photographer.

Photo: The original 1937 caption reported, “The comedy team of (Frank) Mitchell and (Jack) Durant proved a potent batting combine in yesterday’s fracas. Durant is no fool – he’s the guy getting the free ride.”  Credit: George Strock/Los Angeles Times

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