All-Star Game returns to South Side
Home-field advantage in the World Series aside, the 74th All-Star Game has the makings of classic when you consider the previous three Midsummer Classics played at Comiskey Park.
Baseball's newest contribution to the glamour and romance of American sports, the All-Star Game, made its debut on July 6, 1933, at Chicago's Comiskey Park.
It was initiated at the insistence of Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune, to coincide with the celebration of Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition.
By the 1930's, baseball had become a major part of our American culture and the exposition provided a perfect setting. Many did not believe that the game could live up to the fan's expectations (although everyone was eager to see a novel concept in action).
The idea of a single game made up of the most glittering assemblage of ball-playing talent ever brought together on the diamond at one time, seemed too good to be true.
In 1933 and 1934, All-Star teams were selected by the managers and the fans. The National League's John McGraw and American League's Connie Mack were chosen to lead a lineup of big hitters, including Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and the one and only Babe Ruth.
With fellow All-Star, Charlie Gehringer on first in the bottom of the third, The Babe drove one into the right-field stands, the first homer in All-Star history. The crowd, according to one account, "roared in acclamation" and the first All-Star Game, won by the American League on the strength of Ruth's homer, was a resounding success.
Future Hall of Famers (20) -- Earl Averill, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Rick Ferrell, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Frisch, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Chick Hafey, Gabby Harnett, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein, Tony Lazzeri, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons, Bill Terry, Pie Traynor and Paul Waner.
Historic Moments -- Babe Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star history with a two-run shot in the third inning, and by some accounts made a "spectacular" running catch in right field. The first hit was recorded by Chick Hafey with a second-inning single. Lefty Gomez not only earned the first win, but also notched the first RBI. Charlie Gehringer had the first All-Star steal.
Historic Legacy -- You never forget your first. And this was it. This inaugural All-Star Game begat one of baseball's most cherished traditions.
In Their Words -- "We wanted to see the Babe. Sure, he was old and had a big waistline, but that didn't make any difference. We were on the same field as Babe Ruth."
As the All-Star Game entered its third decade, the National League was tired of being baseball's perennial loser. Trailing 12-4 in All-Star Games and losing the three previous World Series, the NL did not have the respect of the fans or American League players.
Inspired by their poor showing in previous decades, the NL resolved to make this year different. The 1950 All-Star Game turned out to be the first to go into extra innings, featured two dramatic home runs and produced some of the finest All-Star pitching ever.
As usual, the AL was leading (3-2) in the top of the ninth. Then Ralph Kiner led off with a long home run that tied the score and set the stage for a three-inning pitchers' duel.
Larry Jansen pitched for the NL into the 11th inning while giving up one hit in five innings. Allie Reynolds matched him, taking the AL into the 12th and giving up one hit over three innings. Ted Gray took over for the AL in the 13th and maintained the status quo.
In the 14th, however, the NL fired another leadoff rocket off the bat of Red Schoendienst. He was an unlikely hero, as he had sat for 10 innings while Jackie Robinson played second. Entering the game defensively in the 11th, Schoendienst stepped up in the 14th and homered into the left-field stands.
Even more disheartening for the AL was the loss of Ted Williams. While making a running catch of a Kiner drive in the first inning, he ran into the wall and broke his elbow. He stayed in the game, visibly injured, and went 1-for-4. Later he underwent surgery and didn't play again until Sept. 15.
The National League had gone the distance and made a statement. Finally, it had established a momentum that would last for several years.
Future Hall of Famers (19) -- Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, George Kell, Ralph Kiner, Bob Lemon, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Ted Williams
Historic Moments -- Ralph Kiner homered in the ninth to tie the game and make this the first extra-inning game in All-Star history. His NL teammate Red Schoendienst then homered in the 14th to win the game. Joe DiMaggio hit into a game-ending double play. Ted Williams broke his elbow in the first inning while making a catch against the wall. He stayed in the game and went 1-for-4, but wouldn't play again until mid-September.
Historic Legacy -- Hey, Hey! The first televised All-Star Game was called by Chicago (Cubs) favorite Jack Brickhouse on NBC and was seen by an estimated 10 million Americans at a time when there were only about 400,000 sets in the entire country.
In Their Words -- "The first All-Star Game I saw was in 1950 at Comiskey Park. That is the game that Ted Williams broke his elbow, banging into a wall. It was just a game in those days. You just played the game."
The American League followed one of its worst All-Star performances with one of the greatest efforts ever by either side. It was the 50th anniversary of the All-Star Game, and the American League decided to make it a real celebration.
After three decades of disappointment and 11 consecutive losses, the AL took the field with a vengeance and dominated the National League for nine innings. A seven-run third inning -- all seven charged to Atlee Hammaker -- gave the AL a 9-1 lead which seemed safe even for the junior circuit.
The star player of the game was Fred Lynn, whose grand slam in the third was the first in All-Star history. NL manager Whitey Herzog had ordered Robin Yount, the preceding batter, walked intentionally, which turned out not to be a good idea.
"I take it personally," Lynn said later. By '83, Lynn had four home runs and 10 RBIs in with 20 All-Star at-bats. Only Ted Williams had a higher All-Star RBI count, with 12 in 46 at-bats. Lynn's four homers tied him with Williams for the AL lead. The loss left the NL shell-shocked. It was no longer invincible.
Future Hall of Famers (11) -- Johnny Bench, George Brett, Gary Carter, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski and Robin Yount.
Historic Moments -- It took 50 years and 54 games, but California's Fred Lynn knocked out the first grand slam in All-Star history. And it remains the only All-Star slam to this day. The AL set records for runs (7) and hits (6) in one inning its their third-inning humiliation of Atlee Hammaker en route to snapping an 11-game losing streak. The AL's 13 runs also set a record.
Historic Legacy -- In what used to be an annual beating at the hands of the National League, Lynn and Co. turned the tides of momentum in this game by starting the AL to a 13-6-1 run entering the 2003 game.
In Their Words -- "I should have been the MVP for the AL,"