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Midsummer Classic: Midsummer Mockery

About two decades ago, Garry Templeton of the St. Louis Cardinals said this about the All-Star Game: "If I ain’t startin’, I ain’t departin’.”

The politics, incentive clauses, managerial prejudices, ballot stuffing and mindless rules, like you can be on the disabled list and appear, in the All-Star game make the Midsummer Classic in many ways - Midsummer Mockery.

It wasn't always this way and it wasn't intended to be this way.

The original idea was conceived in 1933 by Arch Ward, the Chicago Tribune’s sports editor. He saw the game as a one-shot deal to be played in conjunction with Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. He said the event should be called the "Game of the Century". The plan was to give the fans a real baseball rooting interest by allowing them to vote for their favorite players via popular ballot.

The first game was played on July 6, 1933, a sweltering afternoon at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago. There were 47,595 fans in attendance to see the National League team managed by John J. McGraw go against the American League squad managed by Connie Mack.

Both rosters were limited to 18 players. Mack made just one starting lineup change and wound using a total of 13 players. McGraw employed 17 players, including four pinch hitters.

That first American League team had sluggers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons. Lefty Gomez of the New York Yankees was the starting and winning pitcher for the American League and Wild Bill Hallahan of the St. Louis Cardinals was the starter and loser for the National League.

Hallahan fanned Ruth in the first inning, but he was not as fortunate in the third inning of that first All-Star Game. The Babe came up with Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer on first base.

The 38-year-old Ruth slugged a Hallahan pitch just inside the right-field foul line and into the lower stands. That two-run homer was the margin in the American League’s 4-2 victory.

"We wanted to see the Babe," said Wild 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."

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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