Chicago Cubs player signing autographs in Marion in 1920 (photo courtesy of Ohio History Connection)
Ohio Life

The Day the Chicago Cubs Played in Marion, Ohio

In September 1920, the Major League ballclub visited to face off against the hometown team of presidential candidate Warren G. Harding.

With just two months left before the 1920 presidential election, Sen. Warren G. Harding was well on his way to the White House, but the lifelong baseball fan was not too keen on having missed out on an entire season of America’s pastime.

Organized by Harding’s supporters, the Chicago Cubs boarded a train for Harding’s hometown of Marion to face off against the Kerrigan Tailors, a local semi-professional team, at the city’s Lincoln Park on the afternoon of Sept. 2, 1920.

“Shortly after 10 o’clock, with an escort of members of the Harding Marching Club and Baker’s Band, the visitors marched to the Harding residence and were introduced to the senator by William L. Veeck, president of the [Chicago Cubs],” The Marion Daily Star reported in its Sept. 2, 1920, edition.

The newspaper’s Fred Kraner wrote in his report the day after the game that admission to the park grounds was free, but those wishing to enjoy grandstand seating were charged 50 cents.

“The visitors sought places of vantage on the side lines and soon the crowd encircled the entire playing field,” Kraner noted in his report. “Baker’s Band was out early in the afternoon and entertained with musical numbers until the arrival of the presidential candidate and his party.”

The soon-to-be president and first lady arrived at the park at 3 p.m., and Harding responded to requests for photos and autographs before throwing out the first pitch around 3:15 p.m.

“I pay to you my tribute to baseball, because I like the game, just as every other real American,” Harding said in a speech. “It has been in the blood for over half a century, and it has helped us as a people.”

By the seventh inning, the score was 1-0 in favor of Chicago, and there was hope among the crowd that the Kerrigan Tailors could come back for a hometown win, but the Chicago Cubs came out on top in a 3-1 victory.