It’s just a little over a week to the All-Star Game that is going to take place at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on July 14 and die-hard baseball fans are already finding out whether their favorite players made it to the team this year.
But did you know that the All-Star game is celebrating 82nd Birthday today? Yes, it was exactly 82 years ago today that the first All Star game was played in Chicago’s Comiskey park, the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League.
The All-Star Game was a brainchild of Arch Ward, a sports editor at the Chicago Tribune, and it coincided with the celebration of Chicago’s Century of progress exhibition. The event was also designed to bolster the sport and improve its reputation during the darkest years of the Great Depression.
The idea was to organize a one-time event, a “Game of the Century” where the best players of the American and National leagues would face each other. But the plan had two interesting twists – the fans would be able to vote on the lineup and all the proceeds from the game would be donated to a charity for retired players.
Before the game, the ballots were printed in 55 newspapers across the country and the fans cast several hundreds thousands of votes. Babe Ruth himself drew 100,000 votes. Players like Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Joe Cronin and Lefty Grove also made it to the team. Here are the American League and National League All-Star rosters from 1933:
American League Roster
Manager – Connie Mac
National League Roster
Manager– John McGraw
Babe Ruth entered history by hitting the first All-Star Game homerun.
In the old days, the fans selected the starting lineups, and the managers picked the pitchers and reserves. Today rosters are bigger, a player vote decides a large chunk of who is selected and the managers fill out the rest, including the starting pitcher slot.
Today there are 34 players on each roster, that number has been in effect since 2010. 17 players – eight NL and nine AL players – are selected through the fan vote. As America’s Pastime is evolving, this was the first year all-digital voting was introduced, but not everything went as planned and as many as 60 million votes had to be revoked.
Fans pick the starting lineups, including the DH, but not including the pitcher for the AL team. Both teams use DH regardless of what ballpark they’re playing in, so the NL manager selects a DH for the lineup from someone on his roster.
In addition to this, the players elect nine AL backup position players and eight NL backup position players. The rest of the players are selected by the managers and by the Essurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote.
Back in 1933 over 47,000 fans packed into Comiskey Park to experience the “Game of the Century”. The game was actually such a success that instead of being a one-time event, “the midsummer classic” was held every year since except in 1945 when it was cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions. There were two All-Star Games played each season from 1959 through 1962. The second game was added to raise money for the MLB players’ pension funds, as well as other causes. The experiment was later abandoned on the grounds that having two games watered down the appeal of the event.
By this day the game has evolved into a five-days-long All-Star FanFest, with countless opportunities for fans to experience baseball and meet their idols.
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