On July 22, 1934, The Yankees were playing a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. Babe Ruth was slaughtering the Sox, driving in four home runs in a single game. On the other side of town, John Dillinger sat in a movie theater watching Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama. By the end of the night, the Yankees would sweep the Sox and Dillinger would be dead.
Dillinger had two passions in life: crime and baseball—and he was great at both. Dillinger had played baseball ever since he was a kid. His first outing was on a team in Moorseville, Indiana, at the urging of his dad who was trying to get him out of his life of gangs and petty crime. After deserting the Navy in 1923, Dillinger moved to Martinsville where he got a spot on the semi-pro team the Martinsville Athletics, playing shortstop and second base. For the first time he was getting paid to play, but once the season ended the money dried up and he went back to a life of crime.
Dillinger teamed up with one of the umpires from the league to rob a store; they got caught and Dillinger was sent to prison. His love of baseball didn’t wane, though—he joined the prison team and played like a champ. Right before his parole hearing, Indiana Governor Harry Leslie saw him play and said that Dillinger should be playing pro. The parole board didn’t think so, though—they denied his parole. Dillinger then asked to be moved to the Michigan State Penitentiary because they had “a real baseball team.” With prodding from the Governor, his request was granted. While he was there, he played ball but also met the guys who would become part of his crime gang.
Dillinger obviously never went back to pro ball once he got out; instead he became the FBI’s first Public Enemy Number One, and ended up bleeding to death in front of the Biograph theater. Maybe he should’ve gone to see the Yankees play that night.