History: MLB's First All-Star Game

The following appeared in the January/February issue of Junior Baseball:

by: Matt Nadel

One of my favorite events during the baseball season is the All Star Game. There have been some great All Star Games in the past that, for example, ended in walk-off fashion or featured some iconic players doing iconic things, but I think that when introducing the history of the All Star Game, one MUST start the conversation with the 1933 All Star Game held in Comiskey Park in Chicago, the first ever Major League Baseball All Star Game.

Let’s start with some fun facts!

Fact 1: The game was actually part of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
Fact 2: It was supposed to be a one-time thing in order to boost morale and baseball’s reputation during the worst years of the Great Depression.
Fact 3: Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune, is credited with coming up with the idea after the mayor of Chicago at the time, Edward Kelly, wanted some sort of sporting event to tie into the World’s Fair.
Fact 4: Fans got to set the lineups for the American and National Leagues.
Fact 5: The NL players wore “NL-themed” uniforms, while the AL players actually just wore their home jerseys for whichever AL team they played for.

The most important thing about this game was the rosters. 20 of the 36 All Stars, five of the six coaches, and even two of the four umpires would eventually be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are some of the biggest names: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Carl Hubbell, Jimmie Foxx, John McGraw, Connie Mack, and Eddie Collins (as a coach). Other Cooperstown names include Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Pie Traynor, Gabby Hartnett, Joe Cronin, and Charlie Gehringer. I could name the rest of the Hall of Famers, but then I would have no room to give more information on the game.

47,000+ fans showed up on July 6, 1933 to watch an All Star Game that was fairly uneventful for the most part. Probably the biggest star of the game was (as you probably guessed already) Babe Ruth, who hit the first ever All Star Game home run, a two-run shot in the bottom of the third with Gehringer on first base after drawing a walk, and making a nice catch at the right field wall in the top of the eighth. After a little over two hours of baseball, the AL won the game, 4-2. No MVP was given out for the game, as the first All Star Game MVP wouldn’t be given out for another 30 years or so, but I would’ve given it to Ruth. His Hall of Fame teammate Lefty Gomez got the win for the AL, tossing three solid innings of shutout baseball.

After the success of the first-ever “Midsummer Classic,” even though the game was supposed to be just for the World’s Fair, the event was held in the summer of 1934 and every summer since besides 1945 (due to WWII). What a wonderful way for fans of all shapes and sizes to come together to watch a sporting event. Other leagues, like the NFL, NBA, and NHL would eventually come up with their own types of All Star Games, but the MLB’s will always be remembered as the first one of its kind.

Ensure you receive more great content like this by signing up for a Junior Baseball subscription today!