Saturday, July 6, 2013

Major League Baseball's First All-Star Game

On July 6, 1933 Major League Baseball (MLB) hosts its first ever All-Star Baseball Game. The American League wins 4-2 at Comiskey Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox.

The All-Star game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual baseball exhibition game between players from the National League and the American League.

Currently selected by the fans are the starting fielders, while each teams head manager decides the pitchers, managers and players for reserves.

The game usually occurs on the second Tuesday in July and marks the symbolic halfway point in the Major League Baseball season (though not the mathematical halfway point; in most seasons, that actually takes place one week earlier). The league goes into an All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled on the day before or the day after. From 1959 to 1962, two all-star games were held each season, but this format was abandoned.

Unlike in similar all star games in other sports, players usually wear their own team uniforms, with the home team dawning a white uniform and the road team dawning a grey uniform.

The first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois, at Comiskey Park and was the brainchild of Arch Ward, then sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one.

Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy", given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.

The game's venue traditionally alternates between the two leagues every year. This tradition has been broken twice.

The first time was in 1951, when the American League's Detroit Tigers hosted the annual game as part of the city's two hundred and fiftieth birthday.

It was broken again in 2007, when the National League's San Francisco Giants were the host for the 2007 All-Star Game. That scheduling set it up so the 2008 game could be held in the American League stadium for the scheduled final season at Yankee Stadium in New York.

As of 2009, an American League stadium is scheduled to host the all-star game in even-numbered years and a National League stadium in odd-numbered years.

The "home team" is the league in which the host franchise plays its games.

The criteria for choosing the venue are subjective; for the most part, cities with new parks and cities who have not hosted the game in a long time – or ever – tend to get the nod.

In the first two decades of the game, ballparks in Philadelphia and St. Louis were home to more than one team.

This led to some shorter-than-usual gaps between the use of those two ballparks: Shibe Park (later known as Connie Mack Stadium) in Philadelphia and Sportsman's Park (the third ballpark with that name; later known as Busch Stadium, the first of three stadiums with that name) in St. Louis. In Philadelphia, the AL’s Athletics hosted the game in 1943, and the NL's Phillies in 1952. In St. Louis, the National League's Cardinals hosted the game in 1940, and the American League's Browns in 1948.

To date, only two franchises have never hosted a game: the Miami Marlins (although scheduled to host the game in 2000, Major League Baseball moved the game to Atlanta), and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Washington Nationals franchise hosted the game when they were the Montreal Expos, and All-Star Games have been played in the District of Columbia, hosted by both incarnations of the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers).

Of the remaining 28 franchises, the New York Mets have gone the longest period without hosting since their sole hosting duty in 1964, but this streak will come to an end in next week. The Dodgers will then become the team with the longest active hosting drought (1980).

A total of 83 All-Star Games have been played (including two games per year from 1959-1962), with the National League winning 43, the American League 38, and two ties.

The All-Star Game has seen several "eras" in which one league tended to dominate.
From 1933 to 1949, the American League won 12 out of the first 16.

The National League dominated from 1950 to 1987, winning 33 of 42 with 1 tie. This included a stretch from 1963 to 1982 when it won 19 of 20, including 11 in a row from 1972 to 1982.

Since 1988 the American League has dominated, winning 18 of 23 with one tie, including a 13 game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) from 1997 to 2009.

The National League ended their 13-year drought with a 3-1 victory in 2010 and won again in 2011 and 2012.

As of the 2012 All-Star Game, the cumulative run totals for all 83 games played was 693 – closely split between the leagues – with 341 runs for the American League and 352 for the National League.

The longest All-Star Game, in terms of innings lasted 15 innings, which has occurred twice: 1967 and 2008. The longest game, in terms of time was 2008, with a total time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.