The First All-Star Game was played in 1933 at Comiskey Park, in Chicago. Never intended to be an annual event, its whole purpose was to lift attendance at the struggling Chicago Worlds Fair.
While the “Century of Progress” World’s Fair was in full swing, anevent occurred on this day that changed baseball history: the first All-Star game. A few months earlier, Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly had gone to Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Tribune, with an idea. He wanted to arrange a sports event as an adjunct to the fair. “`We’ve got the man right here,’ McCormick said.
Ten minutes later, sports editor Arch Ward was in McCormick’s office,” as Ward’s biographer, Tom Littlewood, recounted the meeting.
Ward knew what he wanted: a matchup of the best players in the American and National Leagues.
The Giants legendary skipper, John McGraw, came out of retirement to manage the National League. Connie Mack was at the helm for the American League. The National League lineup included Hall of Famers Frankie Frisch, Gabby Hartnett, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein, Bill Terry, Pie Traynor, and Paul Waner.
If you think that lineup wasn’t too shabby, compare it to the American League’s which featured Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Tony Lazzari, Al Simmmons, and oh yeah, a 38-year-old veteran outfielder by the name of Babe Ruth. The old boy hit a second inning two run homer that put the American League ahead 3-0. The game ended with the AL on top, 4-2.
Look at the video. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa seem to be so happy. Do they not know – or not care that their accomplishments are tainted because they took performance enhancing drugs?
Mark McGwire broke the single season home run record that Roger Maris had previously set. Maris’s 61st home run came on October 1, 1961 during the 162nd and last day of the season. McGwire notched his 62nd blast on Septemeber 8, 1998, during the 145th game of the season. Both Maris’s and McGwire’s accomplishments were shrouded in controversy.
Ford Frick, who was Baseball Commissioner in 1961, decided that Maris’s record needed an asterisk because it took him 162 games to break Babe Ruth’s 1927 single season record of 60 home runs. Ruth got his 60th home run during the old 154 game schedule. Maris, unlike McGwire, was completely innocent of any wrong-doing.
On the day the McGwire broke Maris’s record, the Cardinals, despite McGwire’s home run, lost to the Sammy Sosa led Cubs, 6-3. At that point in the season, Sosa had 58 home runs. Sosa would get his 62nd home run of the 1998 season on September 14. By then McGwire had “gone quiet” for six days and the two were actually tied for the lead. When the season finally ended, McGwire had collected 70 home runs to Sosa’s 66.
While it was happening, and before we all knew what really happened (or maybe before we all emerged from denial), it was fun to watch.