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)