Ray Schalk’s Architectural Performance

Ray Schalk was a Hall of Fame catcher for the White Sox in the 1920s, known for his ability to catch soaring pop flies–which, incidentally, were called “skyscrapers” before that term was applied to buildings. On May 11, 1925, as the 460 foot Tribune Tower neared completion, Schalk took part in a publicity stunt organized by the newspaper. In front of a lunchtime crowd of 10,000, Schalk took his position in the middle of a blocked Michigan Avenue, and caught a ball dropped from a derrick at the tower’s summit. It took three tries, but Schalk hung on to the third one before departing, via police escort, to catch for the White Sox that afternoon.

This wasn’t the record–Senators catcher Gabby Street caught a ball thrown from the top of the 550-foot Washington Monument. But it was an inspired act of architectural performance, and worth remembering as the Tribune Company’s ownership of Chicago’s other ballclub comes to an end. (See “Schalk Catches Ball off Tribune Tower,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 12, 1925. p. 29)

2 thoughts on “Ray Schalk’s Architectural Performance

  1. That story is included in my biography of Ray Schalk, due to be released by McFarland & Co. by September. On one of those drops from the Tribune Tower, the ball blew into the side of the building and glanced off. The other ball hit him squarely in the mitt but bounced out. Also, Schalk did not catch a game that afternoon. He was in uniform, but Sox brass, reporrtedly miffed (even though the Tribune publicized the stunt in the advance), benched him one game. — Brian E. Cooper


    • Thanks for the clarification–sounds like the Trib reporter couldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. I’ll look forward to your book.


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