On This Day

1933 all star game, 1933 national league all stars, 1933 nl all stars, first all star game
Associated Press
The National League team poses before the first major league All-Star Game, July 6, 1933.

On This Day: First Baseball All-Star Game Played

July 06, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On July 6, 1933, Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward organized the first All-Star game as a part of the Chicago World’s Fair.

Ruth’s Homer Leads AL to Victory

The All-Star game was the idea of Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, who proposed that the best players from the American and National leagues take part in a one-off game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park while the city was hosting the 1933 World’s Fair, the Century of Progress Exposition.

“By the 1930s, baseball had already established itself as America's favorite pastime,” writes Baseball Almanac, “and the national exposition provided the perfect stage to introduce baseball's best to the rest of the country.”

The game, dubbed “The Game of the Century,” was scheduled for July 6, a day when both leagues had no games scheduled. Retired Giants manager John McGraw was chosen to manage the National League, while Athletics manager Connie Mack led the American League.

“There were 47,595 fans in the stands, all eager to see a novel concept in action—action that would be performed by the most glittering assemblage of ballplaying talent ever brought together on the diamond at one time,” describes The Sporting News.
There was one player in particular who excited fans and players alike. “We wanted to see the Babe,” said NL starting pitcher Bill Hallahan. “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.”

The first run was scored in the second inning, when AL starting pitcher Lefty Gomez drove in Jimmie Dykes with a single. In the next inning, Ruth gave fans what they came to see, hitting a two-run homer into the right-field stands. The crowd were said to have “roared in acclamation” for the homer, according to Baseball Almanac.

The AL went on the win the game 4-2, but, more importantly, the event was a financial and popular success. Initially envisioned as a one-time event, an All-Star game has been played every summer since its founding, with the exception of 1945.

History of the All-Star Game

The game has largely retained its original 1933 structure, but it has seen a few changes over the years. From 1959 to 1962, two games were played, with proceeds going to support the players’ pension fund.

Two games, in 1961 and 2002, have ended in ties, the latter being a public relations disaster for baseball. The following year, hoping to add more significance to the game, baseball decided to award the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series.

The method for selecting teams has varied over the years. Fans and managers chose the teams for the first two games, but only managers chose the lineup from 1935-46. In 1947, baseball brought back the fan vote, which “was handled by having newspapers print ballots in their sports section that could be filled out and mailed in to the central office of the league,” according to Baseball Minutia.

Newspapers and other businesses in Cincinnati led an aggressive campaign in 1957, leading to the election of seven Reds into the All-Star starting lineup. Commissioner Ford Frick removed two Reds from the lineup and took away the fan vote, which would not be restored until 1970.

Fan voting has continued to caused controversies over the years, as big-name players or players from popular teams are routinely voted in over more deserving players.

Related Topic: First NHL All-Star Game

Six months after the first MLB All-Star game, the NHL held its first All-Star game: the Ace Bailey Benefit Game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and a collection of the NHL’s top players.

The game was organized to raise money for Bailey, a Maple Leafs forward who fractured his skull after being slew-footed by Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore in a Dec. 12, 1933, game. Held in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Feb. 14, 1934, the benefit game began after Bailey shook hands with Shore, an NHL All-Star, at center ice.

“As Bailey extended his hand to the Bruin, the crowd went wild,” writes the Hockey Hall of Fame. “Bailey's extraordinarily sportsmanlike gesture made clear his forgiveness of Shore.”

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