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When Knights Hosted the MLB All Star Game

7/9/2019

By Andrew Fowler
Credit: Knights of Columbus / James Heffernan

Credit: Knights of Columbus / James Heffernan

The Knights of Columbus sports a longtime connection to baseball including owning the land that Yankee Stadium stood on from 1953 to the mid-1970s.

Knights helped spread baseball’s popularity across the country by sponsoring Babe Ruth’s exhibition games, and many of the game’s greatest players were members. The Knights’ founder, Father Michael McGivney, even played for his seminary’s team.

During the time that the Knights owned the land it sat on, Yankee Stadium hosted the All Star Game only once: on July 13, 1960.

That day, more than 38,000 people went through the turnstiles to see Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente and other stars square off. They saw Ted Williams and Stan Musial — both players marking their 19th appearance in an All Star Game. They saw Vern Law of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees as the starting pitchers.

In total, 17 future Hall of Famers played.

The National League won in a 6-0 shutout off the bats of Eddie Mathews, Mays, Ken Boyer and Musial who all hit home-runs.

Fun fact: there were two All Star games that season. The first game was held at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The trend of holding multiple games lasted from 1959 to 1962, and was designed to improve the players’ pension fund.

The Knights of Columbus was able to buy the nine acres beneath “The House that Ruth Built” as part of the Order’s lease-back investments. According to then-Supreme Knight Luke Hart, the Knights met with the Bankers Trust Company and wrote a check for $2,500,000.

Hart wrote in his diary that “It was, of course, the largest check I ever signed.”

But the Knights’ ownership of the land ended when the City of New York decided to renovate the stadium in the mid-1970s and acquired the property by eminent domain. Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant said, “It was not our wish to sell it, but we had no choice.”

So the second 1960 All Star Game would be the only time the Knights hosted the Midsummer Classic. It may not have been a game for the ages, but it is exciting to know that some of the game’s mightiest legends played on a field owned by the Knights of Columbus.

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

Share your story with andrew.fowler@kofc.org.