Ah, the good old days when entire baseball squads would descend upon ancient monuments and try to bean them into rubble. Such a scene unfolded in 1889, when former ballplayer Albert Spalding led the Chicago White Stockings and All-Americas exhibition team around the globe to promote the sport.

And during a stop in Egypt, the teams clambered upon the Sphinx in uniform and acted like Napoleon's apocryphal soldiers. As James E. Elfers of the University of Delaware explains in The Tour to End All Tours: The Story of Major League Baseball's 1913-1914 World Tour:

Spalding's All-Stars posed for what is perhaps their most famous portrait, the players sprawled out upon the paws and legs of the Sphinx [...] The All-Stars and White Stockings had a contest to see who could give the Sphinx a "black eye." They all took turns flinging a baseball at the face of the Sphinx in an attempt to hit its eye.


You can read more about the subsequent theft of Spalding's baseball photographs here, and see the photograph in high-resolution here. American baseball players would visit the Sphinx again in 1914, when the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox paused for a photo op. This occasion would only see the players tossing balls over the Sphinx, rather than assaulting the monument with America's pastime.

Discussion Question: In Marvel Comics mythology, the Sphinx is a time machine. Does this mean self-anointed chrononaut José Canseco knows the secret of the Sphinx? (To wit: "I time travel all the time and have been for the last 20 years; it's real simple. But there are rules: You can't travel to the future, and you can't change history — but that's a good thing because you wouldn't want to wake up in a different future or past, as the case may be.")

[New York Public Library, University of Illinois, and Baseball Prospectus via Ptak Science Books]