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Bob O'Farrell and Grover Cleveland Alexander Fans Field, Bloomington, 1938

On April 17, 1938, pitching great Grover Cleveland Alexander brought the Empires, his semi-pro baseball team from Springfield, IL, to Fans Field on Bloomington's south side. The Empires traveled the 60 miles north for a preseason exhibition game against the hometown Bloomers, a professional minor league club in the Class B Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League.

"Old Pete" (as the Hall of Fame righthander was known) is seen here shaking hands with Bloomers skipper and former big leaguer Bob O'Farrell (on the left). Alexander and O'Farrell were St. Louis Cardinals batterymates (pitcher and catcher) in the 1926 World Series against the New York Yankees. Alexander, who had already earned two complete-game victories in the series, was brought in during the seventh and deciding game in the Big Apple to protect the Cards one-run lead. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and St. Louis ahead 3-2, Alexander faced Bob Meusel at the plate with none other than Babe Ruth on first. The Babe then sprinted to second hoping for a steal. O'Farrell fired the ball to the Cards Rogers Hornsby who tagged out Ruth to end the game and give the Cardinals the World Series title.

Twelve years later in Bloomington, O'Farrell's Bloomers would beat Alexander's Empires 13 to 6.


Written By

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

Posted in Historic Photos

October 10th, 2014

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