Test Your All-Star Game Knowledge!

On July 14, 2015, Major League Baseball will hold its 85th annual Midsummer Classic…the All-Star Game. This year’s battle between National and American League All-Stars will take place in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park. There’s been only one year when there hasn’t been an All-Star Game…do you know when and why? (The answer is at the end of the article.)

Here are a few more interesting All-Star Game facts. See how many you know…and don’t forget to tune in to this year’s game.

When and where was the first All-Star Game played?

The first All-Star Game was played in Chicago on July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox…85 years ago! It was conceived by Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, who tossed out the idea that the top players from both leagues should face each other in one special game as a special feature of the 1933 World’s Fair. The American League won 4–2. Connie Mack was the manager for the NL; John McGraw managed the AL team.

Who hit the first home run in an All-Star Game?
As if it were part of a Hollywood script, Bath Ruth, the Bambino himself, hit the first-ever home run in an All-Star Game in the AL’s 4–2 win. The team was up 1–0 when the Babe hit a two-run blast in the 3rd inning into the right field stands.

Have there been any walk-off home runs in the All-Star Game?
Yes! There hasn’t been one since 1964, and there have been only three altogether…but one of them was voted as the Top All-Star Game moment of all-time a few years back.

•    Ted Williams of Boston hit the first walk-off home run in the 1946 game. One reason it became famous was that he hit it off Rip Ewell, who was throwing his famous “Eephus Pitch,” a high-arching slow ball that would drop over the strike zone. But in the ninth inning of that game, Williams actually took a few steps forward and belted one over the fence to win the game, 5–3.
•    In 1955, Stan Musial of the Cardinals ended a 5–5 tie with a solo home run to lead off the 12th inning. Legend has it that he walked up to the plate and said to Yankee’s catcher Yogi Berra, “Let’s end this thing.” Yogi replied, “I’m getting tired.”
•    The last walk-off home run was hit by Jonny Callison of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1964 game. Losing 4–3 going into the bottom of the ninth at newly opened Shea Stadium, Callison blasted a pitch off Dick Radatz with Orlando Cepeda on second to win it 6–4, using a bat he borrowed from Billy Williams of the Cubs, who’d homered earlier in the game.

What was special about the 1949 All-Star Game in Brooklyn?
In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball by becoming the first black man to play in the Majors. But it would take two more years for a black player to make an All-Star Game squad. In 1949 four players became the first to integrate the All-Star Game: For the NL, Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe—all with the Brooklyn Dodgers; Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians was on the American League roster. (Not many people remember that Doby was the first black player to play in the American League.) It was only fitting that the game was held at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Dodgers’ home turf.

What’s the highest number of runs scored by one team in a game?
Usually the number 13 gets pegged as unlucky. But for the American League, it’s only brought good fortune. Three times in All-Star Game history the AL has scored thirteen runs in a winning effort—1983 (13–3), 1992 (13–6) and in 1998 (13–8). The best output by the NL? Nine runs in a 9–3 win in 1969.

Who were the five Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell struck out in ’34?
Carl Hubbell was a famous screwball-throwing left-hander for the New York Giants and in 1934 was tapped to start the All-Star Game. Before the game started, the New York Giants star was presented the National League’s MVP award for the 1933 season, during which he compiled a 23–10 record that included an 18-inning shutout win. But in the All-Star Game, he had his work cut out for him—five of the hitters he would face would be future Hall of Famers. Off to a bad start, Hubbell allowed a single and a walk to the first two men up. Then he bore down and struck out these three hitters on 12 pitches:
•    Babe Ruth
•    Lou Gehrig
•    Jimmy Foxx

In the second inning, he picked up where he left off, fanning the first two hitters:
•    Al Simmons
•    Joe Cronin

It’s still regarded as the most incredible pitching effort in any All-Star Game.

Have any All-Star Games ended in a tie?

There have been two:
•    The first tie was in the 1961 game at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The game was called because of rain after nine innings and a 1–1 tie.
•    The second tie in All-Star Game history took place in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, home of the Brewers. Before entering the bottom of the 11th, it was decided (and announced) that if the NL didn’t score, the game was going to be called. It wound up a 7–7 tie. Afterward, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that moving forward, the winner of the All-Star Game would get home-field advantage in the World Series…and that’s how it still stands today.

Have any All-Star Games ever been cancelled?

In 1945 the game scheduled for Fenway Park was cancelled due to travel restrictions in the U.S. brought about by WWII. Boston was awarded the 1946 game…the very same game in which Ted Williams hit the “Eephus Pitch” to end the game in a walk-off.

photo credit: http://www.foxsports.com/ohio/story/reds-bar-gabp-great-american-ball-park-all-star-game-asg-020515