Baseball History: The First All-Star Game

LeftyGomezbaseballcardThe tradition of the mid-summer classic known as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game began in 1933.

After a few years of discussion about adding this type of affair to the schedule, Chicago Tribune Sports Editor Arch Ward convinced commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to support the contest as part of the Century of Progress celebration in Chicago.

Ward, who died 60 years ago just three days before the 1955 contest in Milwaukee, had the game’s Most Valuable Player award named after him from 1962-1969 and 1985-2001. It’s currently known as the Ted Williams MVP Award.

In the first contest at Comiskey Park, the managers were John McGraw and Philadelphia A’s mentor Connie Mack. McGraw had retired from the New York Giants in 1932 was leading the National League, while Mack, who was at the helm of the A’s from 1901-1950, was in charge of the American League squad.

On the mound for the AL was Lefty Gomez, who was making the first of his five all-star starts. The New York hurler worked three frames and gave up two hits with one strikeout as he helped the AL to a 4-2 win.

Gomez also had a single that drove in the first run of the game in the second inning as the hometown hero of the Chicago White Sox Jimmy Dykes scored.

Perfect in the first and third innings, Gomez had some trouble in the second. After allowing singles to Chick Hafey of the Cincinnati Reds and Bill Terry of the Giants, Gomez got Wally Berger of the Boston Braves to hit into a double play. He ended the threat by fanning Dick Bartell of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth

A 38-year old Babe Ruth proved to be the hitting star for the AL as the New York Yankees slugger blasted a two-run homer in the third inning off NL starter Bill Hallahan of the St. Louis Cardinals to give his team a 3-0 advantage.

The NL scored both of its runs in the sixth off General Crowder of the Washington Senators thanks to a pair of St. Louis Cardinals teammates. Pepper Martin had a RBI ground out and Frankie Frisch followed with a solo homer.

Earl Averill of the Cleveland Indians finished the scoring in the bottom of the sixth with a run-scoring single off Chicago Cubs right-hander Lon Warneke that brought home Washington’s Joe Cronin.

Philadelphia A’s pitcher Lefty Grove tossed three scoreless innings finish the contest.

Ruth was in the latter stages of the his career as he had a shining moment in his first of two all-star contests. In 1933, he wasn’t able to reach his normal standards, but he still managed to hit 34 homers with 104 RBI and a .301 batting average. He retired in 1935 and became a charter member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

98px-BillHallahanGoudeycardGomez would join Ruth in Cooperstown in 1972. He finished 1933 at 16-10 for the Yankees, but his best season cam a year later as he won the first of his two pitcher’s triple crowns as he wen 26-5 with a 2.33 ERA and 158 strikeouts. In 1937, he was 21-11 with a 2.33 ERA with a career-high 194 strikeouts.

Hallahan, who was the losing pitcher, had a 102-94 mark in a 12-year career with Cardinals, Reds and Phillies. He was a member of the St. Louis teams that won world championships in 1926, 1931 and 1934. His best season was in 1931 when he was 19-9 and beat the A’s twice in the World Series. The 1933 all-star game was the only time he participated in the contest.

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