OTD: 1933, The First Baseball All-Star Game Was Played in Chicago, And Won By Babe Ruth
It was a spectacle put together to boost the country's morale and to draw people to Chicago for the World's Fair. July 6th, 1933: The afternoon of the first official baseball All-Star Game. Of the thirty-six players that day, twenty are in the Hall of Fame, along with the two managers, Joe McCarthy and Connie Mack. (But this game even pre-dates that, as the Baseball Hall of Fame didn't open until 1936.)
America was three years into the Great Depression, and Chicago mayor Ed Kelly was talking to the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Col. Robert McCormick, about having an event during Chicago World's Fair, which was going on just a few miles to the south and east of Comiskey Park. Yes, it might attract more visitors to the World's Fair, but it would be a welcome distraction from the reality of the Depression, which the country was struggling to overcome.
Some of the most colorful teams and players of the era played in this game. The Tigers would play the "Gashouse Gang" St. Louis Cardinals the following season, while the Washington Senators (today's Minnesota Twins) would play in the 1933 World Series later that year. The Cubs has just been swept by the Yankees in the 1932 Fall Classic that featured Babe Ruth's "called shot", just a few miles to the north at Wrigley Field.
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The game attracted not only the best of the best but also a packed house of some 49,000 fans. The National Leaguers wore special uniforms that afternoon. The American League players word their home whites. Fans elected the starting lineups, so Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were there from the Yankees. Jimmy Foxx from the Philadelphia Athletics, Charlie Gehringer from the Tigers. After Gehringer walked in the third, Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star history. Then, in the eighth inning, with a runner on, Ruth made an over-the-wall catch in right-center on Cincinnati's Chick Hafey fly ball, denying the NL of the game-tying home run. The American League won that first game 4-2.
The Tribune's sports editor, Arch Ward, is credited with the idea of the All-Star game. There had been a benefit game in Cleveland some twenty-two years earlier for player Addie Joss, but this was an "official" All-Star Game. (And it might sound strange today, but the game was played in the afternoon, at 1:15 pm. It was a different world back then.)
Even though interest in baseball isn't what it was back when it was America's pastime, it's still the best of the All-Star games and has given us more than a few memories over the years, but it all started on this day in 1933.