The Baseball All-Star Game
The baseball All-Star Game has provided a look at the best players in the game year after year and given us some of the game's most memorable moments.
This is a look back at the history of the "Midsummer Classic," the players that have left their unforgettable marks, and how it continues to display the talents of the game's stars today.
1955 | 1957 | 1959 | 1966 | 1970 | 1971 | 1983
1987 | 1989 | 1993 | 1999 | 2001 | 2002 | 2007
The First Stars
The origins of the baseball All-Star Game go all the way back to the summer of 1858.
Baseball was thriving around the New York area, and the top players from Brooklyn agreed to play the best players from New York City in a best of three series.
Because most games were played in smaller city lots in baseball's early days and didn't allow for many spectators, the popularity of these games between the "picked nines" required a special venue.
The Fashion Course racetrack was chosen because it was enclosed and allowed there to be an admission to the game...ten cents!
The line-ups and scores for that first baseball All-Star Game on July 20, 1858:
|C||Joe Leggett||Excelsiors||1||2B||S.R. Pinckney||Unions||3|
|2B||John Holder||Excelsiors||2||CF||Edward Benson||Empires||3|
|SS||Frank Pidgeon||Eckfords||1||3B||A.J. Bixby||Eagles||1|
|CF||John Grum||Eckfords||4||C||Charles De Bost||Knickerbockers||2|
|LF||Peter O'Brien||Atlantics||2||SS||M.E. Gelston||Eagles||2|
|1B||John Price||Atlantics||3||1B||Louis Wadsworth||Gothams||3|
|P||Matty O'Brien||Atlantics||3||LF||Monson Hoyt||Empires||4|
|3B||M.P. Masten||Putnams||1||P||Tom Van Cott||Gothams||4|
|RF||A.E. Burr||Putnams||1||RF||Harry Wright||Knickerbockers||0|
As you can see by the following scoreboard, the Brooklyn team jumped out to an early lead and looked to be headed to victory. But a couple of big innings by the New York nine in the middle innings catapulted them to victory.
The second game would see the Brooklyn squad dominate, 29-8, setting up a third and decisive match on September 10, 1858.
|SS||M.E. Gelston||Eagles||5||P||Frank Pidgeon||Eckfords||3|
|1B||Louis Wadsworth||Gothams||2||CF||Henry Manolt||Eckfords||1|
|CF||Edward Benson||Empires||4||RF||John Grum||Eckfords||2|
|2B||S.R. Pinckney||Unions||3||3B||Matty O'Brien||Atlantics||1|
|P||R.H. Thorne||Empires||5||LF||Peter O'Brien||Atlantics||1|
|C||Charles De Bost||Knickerbockers||2||C||F.R. Boerum||Atlantics||3|
|RF||Simon Burns||Mutuals||3||SS||Dickey Pearce||Atlantics||3|
This time New York jumped out to a big lead and never looked back.
These would be the most significant games between the stars of baseball that would be played until the beginning of the modern baseball All-Star Game 75 years later.
The Midsummer Classic
The modern baseball All-Star Game got its start in the summer of 1933 as part of the World's Fair in Chicago at Comiskey Park. It was such a success, featuring a home run by the aging but still legendary Babe Ruth, that the game became a tradition each year during the middle of the season.
The All-Star Roster
All-Stars have been selected by a variety of methods over the years, beginning with a vote in the Chicago Tribune that first year and now involving voting by the managers, players and fans.
The first key to the rosters of the baseball All-Star Game is that now every team must be represented by at least one player. This makes sure that fans in each city get to see their teams best player(s) each year and avoid All-Star teams made up mostly of the big-market squads.
The teams are made up of 34 players, with the eight starting defensive positions and an American League DH selected by the fans via balloting at the stadium and on-line voting.
The major league baseball players then vote on and select five starting pitchers, three relievers, and back-ups at each of the defensive positions.
Then the All-Star team manager fills out the roster to 33 players, leaving one position unfilled. Then he and the Commissioner's Office select five players for that final spot to be voted on by the fans.
Once the rosters are set, there are inevitably injuries or starting pitcher rotations that keep players from being able to participate in the All-Star game. These final spots are filled by the All-Star team manager.
But it wasn't always this complicated to put an All-Star team on the field.
From 1935 to 1946 the manager of the All-Star team selected the players.
Then in 1947 the fans were allowed to vote on the eight position players that started the game.
But after the Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot boxes in 1957 and got seven reds players in the starting line-up, fans lost their voting privileges until 1969.
Baseball All-Star Game Moments
The Midsummer Classic has given baseball some of its greatest plays and memories over the years. Here are some of the great All-Star moments.
1934 - The Hall Star Game
|AMERICAN LEAGUE||NATIONAL LEAGUE|
|2B||Charlie Gehringer||Tigers||2B||Frankie Frisch||Cardinals|
|LF||Heinie Manush||Senators||3B||Pie Traynor||Pirates|
|RF||Babe Ruth||Yankees||LF||Joe Medwick||Cardinals|
|1B||Lou Gehrig||Yankees||RF||Kiki Cuyler||Cubs|
|3B||Jimmie Foxx||Athletics||CF||Wally Berger||Braves|
|CF||Al Simmons||White Sox||1B||Bill Terry||Giants|
|SS||Joe Cronin||Senators||SS||Travis Jackson||Giants|
|C||Bill Dickey||Yankees||C||Gabby Hartnett||Cubs|
|P||Lefty Gomez||Yankees||P||Carl Hubbell||Giants|
The most impressive part of this game, and one of the greatest baseball All-Star Game performances ever, was pitcher Carl Hubbell's dazzling pitching in the first two innings. He struck out Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx to end the first inning and then Simmons and Cronin to begin the second. Five consecutive Hall of Famers down on strikes!
1937 - The Beginning of the End
The final out of the third inning came on a line drive back up the middle that struck Dean in the foot, breaking his toe. After the game, he and the Cardinals decided to start him pitching again before his toe had completely healed.
It turned out to be a horrible mistake as it changed his delivery and led to arm injuries that derailed his career. He would only start 34 games after 1937 and win only 16 more.
1941 - Walk-off Williams
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the American League got the bases loaded with one out. Joe DiMaggio hit a certain double-play ball, but the throw to first was wide. Williams stepped up to the plate with his team down 5-4 and promptly hit a game-winning three-run home run to right field.
1945 - Grounded by War
Associated Press writers and most of the major league managers voted on "stand out" players for the year, but they are not recognized as official All-Stars.
1946 - Eephus This
But the hometown fans got a real treat when their hero, Ted Williams, stepped up to the plate against Pittsburgh Pirates pitch Rip Sewell and his famous "Eephus" pitch.
"The Splendid Splinter" had already homered earlier in the game, and the American League was leading 9-0. But the show wasn't over.
Sewell's first pitch was his signature high lob, and Williams looked foolish as we waived at the air. But when he tried to get it by him again, Williams uncorked a long home run into the right field bullpen, giving him his second homer, his fourth hit, and a total of five RBI for the game.
1949 - Jackie Robinson, Take Two
1952 - Rain, Rain, Go Away!
1955 - Stan is Still the Man
Stan Musial stepped into the batter's box to lead off the bottom of the 12th and left little time for drama, sending Frank Sullivan's first pitch on a towering arc over the wall to end the game in walk-off fashion.
1957 - Seeing Red
The Commissioner stepped in and replaced two of the starters, Gus Bell and Wally Post, with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. He then proceeded to revoke fan voting, which wouldn't be reinstated until 1969.
1959 - Double Your Pleasure
The National League took Game 1 in July, 5-4, behind the stellar pitching of Don Drysdale. But the American League came back the next month and won, 5-3, with key home runs from Yogi Berra and Rocky Colavito.
The doubleheader format lasted for a few years, but it never really sparked much excitement and was abandoned in 1963.
1966 - Dog Day of Summer
As luck would have it the game actually went into extra innings. But Maury Wills won it for the National League in the tenth inning and perhaps spared a few hospital visits in the process.
1970 - Hustling Home
The American League had looked to be poised to end its seven-game losing streak when it entered the bottom of the ninth inning leading 4-1. But Catfish Hunter gave up a lead-off home run to Dick Dietz, back-to-back-to-back singles, and a sacrifice fly to Roberto Clemente, sending the game to extra frames.
As the game extended into the 12th inning, the pressure mounted with pride becoming increasingly on the line with every at bat.
The American League looked like it had caught a break in the top half of the inning when Cito Gaston missed a shoestring catch in center field and Carl Yastrzemski ended up with a double. But they couldn't take advantage and went into the bottom of the 12th still tied.
After two quick outs, a single by Pete Rose seemed harmless enough. But another one by Billy Grabarkewitz put Rose in scoring position for the eventual NL Comeback Player of the Year award winner, Jim Hickman.
Hickman singled to center, where Amos Otis charged the ball hard, setting up a play at home. American League catcher Ray Fosse set up to block the plate and awaited the throw.
"Charlie Hustle" was known for his head-first slides and appeared to be preparing for another one as he neared home. But the throw brought Fosse up the line a few steps and Rose instead lowered his shoulder and bowled over the catcher, dislodged the ball (and Fosse's shoulder!) and scored the winning run.
1971 - The Jackson Five-Hundred Foot Blast
But the attention quickly turned to the offense as the National League gained a 3-0 lead early on, with home runs from Johnny Bench and Hank Aaron.
The American League immediately responded in the bottom of the third inning when Reggie Jackson entered the game with a man on base. What followed is one of the most memorable moments in baseball All-Star Game history.
To call the result of Jackson's swing a home run just doesn't do justice to the towering blast. It nearly left the stadium. Tiger Stadium. Where home runs go to die at the warning track.
Were it not for a light tower on the roof in right-center field, the ball may have landed somewhere in the parking lot more than 520 feet from home plate.
Two batters later Frank Robinson hit another two-run home run, and each team added another one later in the game, Roberto Clemente for the National League and Harmon Killebrew for the American League.
Six home runs from six future Hall of Famers. But Jackson's cannon shot was the one that will live on forever in the minds of baseball fans.
1983 - The Grand Slam
The National League was also on an eleven-game winning streak and seemed destined to win each year, putting together late-game comebacks or dominant performances year after year.
With the American League beginning to run away with the game in the third inning, leading 5-1 and with runners on second and third, the National League decided to walk Robin Yount, a future Hall of Famer, and pitch to Fred Lynn with the bases loaded.
Lynn took it personally and proceeded to launch the first grand slam in baseball All-Star Game history, putting the game out of reach and ending the National League's dominant streak.
1987 - Can I Buy a Run Please?
Despite nine of the sixteen offensive starters being future members of the Hall of Fame, neither team could push a run across against the pitching staffs that sent no future Hall of Famers to the mound.
Tim Raines finally broke the scoring drought in the top of the 13th, lining his third hit of the game, a triple, with two runners on and giving the National League a 2-0 victory.
1989 - Bo Knows Lead-off
The National League scored two runs in the top half of the 1st inning, but could have scored a couple more except for a great running catch by Jackson in left-center field to end the inning.
Then he went to the dugout and traded in his glove for a bat.
The American League manager, Tony LaRussa, had struggled to find a player to put at the top of the line-up since his starters were mostly sluggers. But Bo could run. So LaRussa led him off in hopes that he would provide a spark.
And with his first swing, he did just that. Bo sent a towering home run deep over the center field wall onto a section of seats covered with a tarp, so far away that they were only used during football games.
Wade Boggs followed that up with another home run, the first back-to-back home runs for either League in All-Star history, and the American League was back in business.
Jackson knocked in another RBI and stole a base in the second inning, earning him the game's MVP and showing off his freakish athletic abilities. But it was that lead-off home run that will always be remembered.
1993 - Duck, Kruk!
"The Big Unit" entered the 1993 baseball All-Star Game in the third inning and easily retired the first two batters. Then up to the plate stepped John Kruk.
Johnson's first pitch sailed over Kruk's head and to the backstop, obviously rattling Kruk, who smiled and thumped his chest to match his racing heart-rate.
With his mind understandably focused on his own personal safety, he bailed out and took feeble swings on the next three pitches as fans in the stadium, the announcers in the broadcast booth, and everyone across the country roared.
But no one blamed him!
1999 - Pedro Dominates
Pedro Martinez began the game by nearly matching Carl Hubbel's record of five consecutive strikeouts.
He struck out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa in the first. Then he began the second by striking out slugger Mark McGwire. When Matt Williams reached on an error, Martinez reached back and fanned Jeff Bagwell while Williams was thrown out trying to steal.
Pedro was quoted as saying that after watching batting practice and the home run derby, he knew he had to put his pitches in the right spots or he was going to get hurt. Mission accomplished!
2001 - The Iron Man Goes Out in Style
The game began with American League shortstop Alex Rodriguez switching over to third base and allowing Ripken to field his long-time position at short one final time during the first inning.
The game was in a scoreless lull by the third inning, but as Ripken approached the plate with the bases empty and one out, the fans stood and honored him with a standing ovation. The always-classy Cal acknowledged them with a tip of his helmet.
Then in classic "Iron man" style, he drove the first pitch over the left field wall for a home run and won the All-Star Game MVP Award.
2002 - Nobody Likes a Tie
In a effort to get all of their players into the game, both managers had used everyone on their roster when the game had gone into extra innings. When neither team could claim victory in the 11th inning, Commissioner Bud Selig called the game.
Ironically, in honor of baseball great Ted Williams, who had died the week before, the All-Star Game MVP Award had been renamed in his honor. But because of the tie, no MVP was awarded.
2007 - Inside-the-Park Ichiro
After a lead-off walk, Ichiro Suzuki stepped to the plate and lined a ball off the quirky right field wall at AT&T Park. It ricocheted past Ken Griffey, Jr. and gave Ichiro an opportunity to show off his speed.
By the time the ball was back in the infield Ichiro had the first inside-the-park home run in baseball All-Star Game history.
The Home Run Derby
Since 1985, the best home run hitters in Major League baseball have displayed their strength and talents during the All-Star break in the Home Run Derby.
Winners have included greats like Andre Dawson, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey, Jr., Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa. But it has also provided power surges from the likes of Wally Joyner, Tino Martinez, Luis Gonzalez, Garret Anderson and Bobby Abreu.
Because of its entertaining display of power, the Home Run Derby is a fan favorite every year, with each ballpark providing its own unique targets for the sluggers to take aim at with their towering bombs.
The baseball All-Star Game will continue to be a cornerstone of America's pastime.
A showcase for rising stars and all-time greats, each year it provides an opportunity for fans to see something they've never seen before and may never see again.
Pride. Come-from-behind victories. Stellar pitching. Dramatic home runs.
They all make up what has become an annual classic. The baseball All-Star Game.