Tag Archives: all-star game

The First Big Crowd

July 20, 1858 | LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK – It’s not significant by today’s standards, but it was monumental 150 years ago. According to Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, the first big crowd to watch a baseball game, “no fewer than 1,500″ paying spectators,” came out to a Race Course on Long Island on July 20, 1858 to watch an all-star game.

The best players of New York City took on the best Brooklyn had to offer. Back then they were two separate cities. New York won 22-18, and promoters saw dollar signs.  The main reason admission was charged was to defray the cost of converting a field into a baseball diamond – there weren’t too many around back then. The gate receipts added up to over $700 dollars – a big chunk of change before the Civil War.

The event showed that if you put teams together with good players, fans will pay money to watch, and there will be more money to buy better players. The first big crowd had a ripple effect. As Leonard Koppett wrote,

“…those who would travel far and then pay 50 cents to watch a game would undoubtedly pay a penny or two to read about one.”

Newspapers soon found another way to attract readers; baseball scores, eventually box scores. And there were new ones every day.

Contributing Source:
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, 2004, by Leonard Koppett, Carrol & Graf Publishers, New York 

 

July 9 – Hero’s Welcome

1946 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – World War II is over. The all-star game is back – after a one-year hiatus – so is Ted Williams.

It was fitting that the mid-summer classic was played in Boston on this date in 1946. Seven Red Sox were on the American League squad, and they did not disappoint the home town crowd, especially Williams.

Like many players, “Teddy Ball-game,” as he was known, was in his first full season back after serving in World War II as a Marine fighter pilot.

Williams went 4 for 4 with two home runs and 5 RBI on this day. The most memorable moment was Williams clobbering Rip Sewell’s eephus pitch into the right-center field bullpen.

The American League crushed the National League on that day 12-0.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
1946 All-star game box score
History of the All-star game

 

Voting Taken From Fans

JANUARY 30, 1958 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick saw a lot of red at the 1957 all-star game and he didn’t like it. So today in baseball Frick took the all-star team voting away from the fans, calling it “a joke.” The starting lineups for the 1958 all-star team would be determined by a vote of players, coaches and managers.

Frick must have thought, ‘Hold on. No Mays, no Musial! No way.’ Frick replaced Bell and Crowe with the two future hall of famers.

The problem in 1957 was that Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot boxes enough that almost the entire team was Redlegls*. As it turned out five were in the starting lineup: Frank Robinson, Don Hoak, Roy McMillan, Ed Bailey and Johnny Temple, except for Robinson, not exactly household names. Gus Bell and George Crowe also appeared to have enough fan support to make the starting lineup.

Frick must have thought, ‘Hold on. No Mays, no Musial! No way.’ Frick replaced Bell and Crowe with the two future hall of famers.

According to Baseball-Almanac, players, coaches and managers would choose the starters for the all- star team through 1969. The vote went back to the fans in 1970, which is the procedure today. Fans pick the starting fielders, the managers pick the pitchers and the managers and players pick the reserves.

*The Cincinnati ballclub was called the Redlegs for a while in the 1950’s and 60’s because of paranoia during the red scare of communism. Anything “red” was verboten.

Contributing Sources:
Fred DeLuca, International News Service (INS), January 31, 1958
Baseball-almanac
MLB all-star game Wikipedia

Jan 16, 2003-HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA • MLB team owners voted unanimously on this day in baseball history to have the annual all-star game be more than an exhibition. Starting with the 2003 contest, the league that wins the all-star game will have home field advantage for the World Series.

Fifteen of the previous seventeen World Series champions (before the 2003 rule change) had home-field advantage. The two leagues had been alternating home field advantage since it began in 1903.

The move was precipitated by an embarrassing situation at the previous year’s all-star classic in 2002. Commissioner Bud Selig was forced to call the game, being played in his hometown of Milwaukee, in the 11th inning with it tied 7-7 because both teams ran out of pitchers.

The thinking now is that won’t happen again because the teams will be playing to win not just to get everyone in the game. Teams will be urged to save pitchers and other position players for the eventuality of the game going into extra innings.

*As a postscript, since 2003 the American League has had home field advantage 11 times to the National League’s 3. But the National League has been on the winning side of the World Series 8 times to the American League’s 6.

** Postscript #2, As of December 2016, the owners changed the home-field-advantage rule again. Starting with the 2017 post-season, home field advantage for the World Series will not go to the league that wins the All-star game. It will go to the World Series team with the best regular season record.

Contributing sources:
MLB All-Star game