Johnson: Bisbee’s Warren Ballpark hosts Giants-White Sox centennial celebration

From SABR member Rodney Johnson at on April 7, 2013, with mention of SABR members Mike and Judy Anderson and Jim Elfers:

Baseball immortals John McGraw, Charles Comiskey, Christy Mathewson and Tris Speaker made a stop in Arizona for a pair of games one-hundred years ago. This weekend Bisbee and Warren Ballpark celebrated the centennial of those games at the fourth annual Copper City Classic.

The two-day vintage base ball tournament included six teams participating teams playing nine games using 1860’s rules. That means underhand pitching; one umpire (called an arbitrator); no gloves; no balls and strikes; and fly balls caught on a bounce are outs. The order of the day is that the games are played for fun.

Presented by The Friends of Warren Ballpark, the tournament was used as a fund-raiser to raise money to restore and remodel the ballpark’s restrooms which are badly in need of repairs. Warren Ballpark opened in 1909 and is the oldest ballpark in America.

Tournament honorees included Giants hall-of-fame manager John McGraw; Red Sox and Tigers pitcher Earl Wilson; and Bisbee minor league star Tony Antista.

The legendary McGraw led his Giants into Bisbee for an exhibition game against the White Sox on November 7, 1913. The Giants beat the Sox 9-1 at Warren Ballpark. Olympic Gold Medallist Jim Thorpe crashed one of five home runs struck by the Giants in the game. The day before, New York beat Chicago 14-5 25 miles down the road in Douglas.

The two Arizona contests were the nineteenth and twentieth games in the Giants and White Sox 46-game world tour which began after the World Series in Cincinnati on October 18, 1913 and finished in London on February 26, 1914. The trip took the teams across the United States and on to Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The “tourists,” as they were called, finally arrived home on March 7 aboard the Lusitania which was sunk 15 months later by a German U-boat, helping to push the U.S. into World War I.

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Originally published: April 9, 2013. Last Updated: April 9, 2013.