After two singles and a walk filled the bases against Claude Passeau, Joe DiMaggio grounded into a force play that scored a run, cutting the Nationals' lead to 5-4 with one putout to go. Williams took two balls and a strike, then flexed his wrists.
With the possible exception of Henry Ford II, nobody in Detroit is closer to the Deity than the baseball writers, whose detention pen perches on the topmost rim of the stadium within a handshake of Heaven. The aerie is extended to right and left beyond both foul poles, and cash customers sit out there as upon Olympus.
When Williams flexed his wrists, the ball took off for Grosse Pointe. Seemed in a fair way to make it, too, until intercepted by a godling up there on the cornice of the sky. The American League had another, 7 to 5.
There was the night game of 1942 in the Polo Grounds, which began with a cloudburst and ended with a blackout. There was the time Hartnett, managing the Nationals, forgot he had Morrie Arnovich on the bench waiting for a chance as pinch batter, overlooked the Phillies' hero entirely and was denounced in Philadelphia as though he had betrayed Betsy Ross.
There've been games to remember and excitements to savor, but the thing isn't baseball. It's a theatrical pageant, a newspaper promotion stunt, a mere exhibition. Competition is the essence of baseball, and there can be no genuine competition when the rules require that a pitcher be replaced after three innings even if he is throwing a no-hitter. This is a parody of baseball, and not a funny one.
Generally speaking, baseball people dislike the All-Star Game. Players covet the distinction of making the team, are resentful if they aren't chosen, and don't want to play if they are because it costs them a midseason vacation. Club owners pale at the spectacle of high-priced bric-a-brac risking disabling injury at no profit to the employers. Baseball writers, intensely interested in the pennant races, are bored by an exhibition that has no bearing on a championship.
Nobody likes it except the public and Arch Ward. The latter, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, made it all up out of his own head and sold the big leagues on it in 1933. The teams would be selected by vote of fans who read the Tribune or cooperating papers. For the first time ever, there'd be an opportunity to see all of the best players in the world on the field together.
It would be, Arch Ward insisted, a baseball fan's dream come true. (In that era of strong stomachs, the entertainment was called the "dream game.")
Arch Ward was right, as usual. The first game, July 6, 1933, in Comiskey Park, Chicago drew 49,200 paid admissions. The game has never drawn fewer than 25,534 fans, and the second biggest crowd of all, 68,751, was attracted last summer in Cleveland, which seems to indicate that the exhibition is gaining in popularity.
It will certainly sell out Milwaukee County Stadium this year, though that is no criterion because Charley Grimm could pack the joint with a banjo recital. Wisconsin fans have never seen Ted Williams or Yogi Berra, Al Kaline or Nellie Fox or Mickey Mantle. They'll swoon with the joy of it all, but they won't see a ball game.