Sunday, July 21, 2013

80 Years of All Star Memories

There had been unofficial games of the sport's greatest players before but not like this.  22 years before this there was a collection of stars who played a game to gather proceeds for the widow of poor Addie Joss.  Joss was one of the best pitchers the game had seen in the brief history.  Joss was one of the first pitchers in the modern era to throw a perfect game.  Only 31, he had not been feeling well for quite some time.  Before an exhibition game, in the middle of a conversation, Joss collapsed.  The meningitis he never knew he had would take his life before he ever awoke again.  To provide money to his family, a collection of stars decided to play against Joss's Cleveland team mates and donate any money they made to Joss's widow. 

The Indians had some stars of their own including Jack Graney, Nap Lajoie, and Terry Turner.  Opposing them was a collection of talent never before assembled on one team.  Gabby Street (C, Washington), Hal Chase (1B, Washington), Eddie Collins (2B, Philadelphia), Bobby Wallace (SS, ), Frank "Home Run" Baker (3B, Philadelphia), Tris Speaker (CF, Boston), Ty Cobb (RF, Detroit), Sam Crawford (LF, Detroit), Smokey Joe Wood (P, Boston) and Walter Johnson (P, Washington).  Most of them would be Hall of Fame members.  Others were absolutely dominant  and at the top of their games. 

Fans became obsessed with the idea of seeing great players from opposing teams playing together.  Barnstorming became a huge success.  Post season tours of non-major league cities were big sources of extra cash for the game's big stars.  That was until the owners became terrified that their big name stars would get hurt and their drawing power would be hurt badly.  The league outlawed the barnstorming tours but they filed a mental note about the money they could make.

Enter the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.  That would be 80 years ago this year.  It was not only the World's Fair, it was Chicago's Centennial Celebration.  Whatever they had planned it had to be big.  The fair included a few exhibitions that would be obscenely offensive today.   Black face performers.  A Midget City.  A series of incubator demonstrations with real babies.  There were also the normal exhibitions by car manufacturers, star performers and an appearance by the Graf Zeppelin.

The fair needed one more thing and with the Cubs having a great team, they had won the NL the year before, the city was baseball mad.  Why not find a way to showcase their great players?  Arch Ward, the Chicago Tribune sports editor suggested that they could get even more people to show up if they used more than just the local stars.  Why not use all of the league's stars?  And even better, why not let the baseball fans see who they want?  It was perfect.  The Tribune distributed ballots in each daily paper, this was a Chicago exhibit after all so the Chicago fans got to choose.  They would be the ones paying for the ticket and playing who they vocally wanted to see ensured high ticket sales.

The 47,595 fans certainly got their money's worth.  It was the last time Connie Mack and John McGraw, rivals since the American League began 30 years before, faced off as managers.  They had gone head to head in the World Series in 1905, 1911 and 1913 and were chosen to lead each squad today.  In future years the manager of the All Star Teams would be the managers of the previous seasons World Series representatives.

McGraw had retired the year before but it was a reunion of sorts for Mugsy.  On his team were Carl Hubbell, Hal Schumacher and Bill Terry, his former players.  Terry, who despised McGraw (and the feeling was probably mutual) had taken over the reigns of the Giants when McGraw retired.  The bigger reunion for McGraw was managing Frankie Frisch.  McGraw, at one point, was like a father to the Fordham Flash but McGraw's tirades and finger pointing grated on Frisch.  After a disagreement (to put it very mildly) in 1926, McGraw shipped Frisch to the Cardinals.  Now, here Frisch was playing for the old man again.  Just like old times, Frisch was the star for McGraw, hitting the first National League Home Run in All Star history.

Old rivalries were renewed as well.  McGraw hated the new style into which the game had evolved.  He was the scientific type.  The Ty Cobb type.  He won with sacrifice hits, good defense and great pitching.  This Home Run game was bull shit in his opinion.  He despised Ruth and the way he had ruined the game with all these long balls.  This was McGraw's first time facing off against Ruth since they had gone head to head in the World Series three years in a row from 1921-1923.

This may have been billed as an exhibition game but it was really a grudge match.  There was a lot of pride at stake and the wounds were still not healed from the war that was ended thirty years ago.  This may have been a showcase for the fans but these players still had to explain themselves to the rest of the league if they messed up.

The first run in All Star game history came in the bottom of the second.  Jimmy Dykes of the Athletics walked with one out.  Joe Cronin of the Senators walked right behind him.  After a fly out for the second out, Lefty Gomez, the Yankees starting pitcher stepped in to hit.  Gomez hit a single to center field bringing Dykes around to score.  That's right.  A pitcher got the first RBI in All Star Game history.

After an easy top of the third the fans got to see what they really wanted to see.  Charlie Gehringer, the Tigers' second baseman, walked and the big guy came up.  Chicago fans hated Ruth.  In the last World Series he had called his shot against the Cubs and had engaged in an ugly feud with them.  Now he stepped in with a runner on first.  He drove a pitch deep to right field and did what everyone would expect the Home Run king to do.  He hit the first home run in All Star Game history and the AL led 3-0.

The NL would cut the lead to 3-2 but that was as close as they got.  The final was 4-2 and the American League had won the first All Star Game.  The NL wanted a rematch and they would get it every year (with the exception of 1945) all the way to the present day. In fact for four years (1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962) they played two All Star Games in a season.  Currently the National League leads the series with a 43-39 record with 2 ties.

The rosters for the first All Star Game (as they do today) included a representative from each team.  Here were the rosters (starters are bolded, future Hall of Fame members are italicized):
American League:
Rick Ferrell C, Red Sox, 
7 time All Star. 
0-3 in the first All Star Game

Al Simmons CF/LF, White Sox, 
3 time All Star. Leading vote getter. 
1-4 with a single and grounded into a double play
Earl Averill CF, Indians,
6 time All Star,
1-1 as  Pinch Hitter with an RBI in the first All Star Game
Wes Ferrell, P, Indians,
2 time All Star. 
Did not play in the first All Star Game)
Orel Hildebrand P, Indians,
only All Star Game. 
Did not play in the first All Star Game)

Charlie Gehringer 2B, Tigers, 
6 time All Star.
0-3 with 2 walks, a Stolen Base and a run scored in the first All Star Game

Ben Chapman LF/RF, Yankees, 
4 time All Star,
1-5 with a strikeout in the first All Star Game
Bill Dickey C, Yankees,
11 time All Star,
Did not play in first All Star Game)
Lou Gehrig 1B, Yankees 
7 time All Star. 
0-2 with 2 walks and a strikeout.  He also committed an error in the first All Star Game.
Lefty Gomez P,Yankees
7 time All Star. 
3 innings pitched.  Allowed 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and 1 strikeout.  At the plate he was 1-1 with an RBI.  He earned the first Win in All Star Game history and his RBI single drove in the first run in All Star Game history.
Tony Lazzeri 2B, Yankees
Only All Star Game.
Did not play in first All Star Game
Babe Ruth RF, Yankees 
2 time All Star. 
2-4, 2 strikeouts, 1 run, 2 RBI, Home Run in first All Star Games

Jimmy Dykes 3B, Athletics,
2 time All Star,
2-3 with a walk and a run scored, helped turn a double play.
Jimmie Foxx 1B, Athletics,
9 time All Star.
Was the reigning AL MVP but did not appear in the first All Star Game.  He would also win his second consecutive MVP award in 1933
Lefty Grove P,Athletics,
6 time All Star.
3 innings pitched, allowed 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts and earned the first Save in All Star Game History.  He was 0-1 at the plate.

Sammy West CF, Browns,
4 time All Star,
Entered as a late inning defensive replacement.  Had no plate appearances

Joe Cronin, SS, Senators, 
7 time All Star,
1-3 with a run scored and a walk in the first All Star Game
General Crowder P, Senators,
3 innings pitched, allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, walked none, struck out none and had an ERA of 6.00 for the day.  He was 0-1 at the plate. 
This was his only All Star appearance

National League:
Wally Berger ,CF, Braves,
4 time All Star. 
0-4 and grounded into a double play in the first All Star Game

Tony Cuccinello, 2B, Dodgers. 
2 time All Star. 0-1 with a strikeout as a pinch hitter in first All Star Game

Woody English, 3B, Cubs.
Only All Star Game.
0-1 as pinch hitter and played SS in first All Star Game
Gabby Hartnett C, Cubs
6 time All Star. 
0-1 with a strikeout in first All Star Game
Lon Warneke P, Cubs. 
5 time All Star.
4 innings pitched.  Allowed 1 run, 6 hits, no walks, 2 strikeouts and had a 2.25 ERA.  Was also 1-1 with a triple and run scored in the first All Star Game

Chick Hafey LF, Reds. 
Only All Star Game. 
1-4 in first All Star Game

Carl Hubbell P, Giants.
9 time All Star.
Would win NL MVP in 1933. 2 innings pitched.  Allowed 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 strikeout.  He did not have a plate appearance in first All Star Game.
Lefty O'Doul OF, Giants. 
Only All Star Game.
0-1 as Pinch Hitter in first All Star Game
Hal Schumacher P, Giants. 
2 time All Star.
Did not play in first All Star Game
Bill Terry 1B, Giants. 
3 time All Star.  2-4 in first All Star Game
Dick Bartell SS, Phillies,
2 time All Star. 
0-2 with a strikeout.  Helped turn a double play in first All Star Game
Chuck Klein RF, Phillies. 
2 time All Star.
Reigning NL MVP.  Would finish 2nd in NL MVP in 1933. 1-4 in the first All Star Game

Pie Traynor 3B, Pirates. 
2 time All Star.
1-1 with a double as a pinch hitter in first All Star Game
Paul Waner OF, Pirates. 
4 time All Star. 
Was a late inning defensive replacement.  Did not have a plate appearance in first All Star Game.

Frankie Frisch 2B, Cardinals,
3 time All Star.
2-4 with a run, RBI and Home Run.  Helped turn a double play in first All Star Game
Pepper Martin 3B, Cardinals.
4 time All Star.
0-4 with an RBI and a strikeout in first All Star Game
Bill Hallahan P, Cardinals. 
Only All Star Game. 
2 innings pitched.  Allowed 3 runs, 2 hits, 5 walks, 1 strikeout and had a 13.50 ERA.  Was also 0-1 at the plate.  Took the first loss in All Star Game history.
Jimmie Wilson C, Cardinals. 
2 time All Star Game.
0-1 in the first All Star Game.

Lefty Gomez started the first All Star Game for the American League and Bill Hallahan for the National League. Three pitchers are tied for the record for starting the All Star Game five different times as a Starting Pitcher. Who are they?
Hint:  All three are in the Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Hope at Disneyland for getting last week's trivia question correct.
Answer to Last Week's Question:
The Cubs moved into Wrigley Field in 1916.  The stadium was built for Chicago's entry into the Federal League, the Chicago Whales.  It was originally called Weeghman Park, named after the owner of the Whales.  When the Federal League folded the Cubs took over the stadium and have played there ever since.  Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the park.


  1. In your great research, in your opinion was John Mc Graw the most hated manager in the history of baseball?
    When I followed baseball back in the 50's and 60's the all star game was a battle for pride and bragging rites. In the eighty's the rivalry lessened and with the inter league play, to me there is no rivalry between the leagues. I think the rule that the winning all star team gets home field advantage for the world series is a joke. The all star game is an exhibition. I would have the league with the best record during inter league play get home field advantage.

    My guess for the 3 starting pitchers are: Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax with Bob Gibson or Bob Feller as a possibility instead of Koufax. I think Koufax's career was too short to start that many times.


    1. I would say that McGraw was probably the most hated manager in history. It is hard to think of anyone who comes close. Maybe Durocher or Billy Martin. The all Star game definitely was a grudge match for quite some time, although, I think we all have lost sight of what the All Star Game is. It is a chance for us to watch the best players in the game and showcase the best parts of the game. To me, growing up watching the All Star Game, it was never important to me who won. The important thing was to get to watch players like Tony Gwynn, Bo Jackson, Nolan Ryan who were not always on TV because they were in smaller markets. The joy was just seeing what the greats could do against the other players. I think the fact that every team is represented is what makes the MLB All Star Game special. If it wasn't a requirement players like Segura in Milwauke, Jose Altuve in Houston or Carlos Gonzales in Colorado would be ignored and we would have a Yankees/Red Sox vs Cardinals Giants game.

      Sorry. Your guesses for the All Star Game starting pitchers are great but none of them are right.

  2. all star games are strange. i guess for me the jury is still out on the verdict of good or bad. my biggest complaint is that i bet over half of the participants dont even try hard. especially in the modern times. and in some sports (like football) some all stars dont even play. in baseball, now that the game matters, i still dont think some players even care. i say keep the skills/home run derby parts of the game and drop the rest.


    1. To me, MLB is the only All Star Game that gets it right. The Pro Bowl is a two hand touch game. NHL is a skate around and the NBA is a dunk contest. MLB actually plays a regular game and showcases the best of their sport. True, some players find anyway possible to get out of it but many of the players find it an honor to make the All Star Game.

  3. YAY! I got the trivia question right! :)

    The backstory for the All Star game is interesting. Do you think it's still a good idea to let the fans vote, or would it be a better game if the coaches/sports writers sent out who they thought were the best?

    1. I do still think the fans should get a vote on who starts. The point of the game is to showcase the best the league has to offer. The fans ar part of what is great about the game so their opinion is vital.

      Congrats on your correct guess last week. Any guesses this week?


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