A game played in Comiskey Park on a hot July day holds a rich piece of MLB history. The first MLB All-Star Game was at first billed as ‘The Game of the Century’ before it has been a fixture in every baseball scene.
A Piece of MLB History was Stemmed from the Great Depression
During the stretch of 1930 to 1933, the attendance of MLB games plummeted along with the average player"s salary. The fans who remained able to make it to games moved away from box seats and into the bleachers. With the struggle to gain attendance back, team owners were forced to shrink their rosters, fire coaches, and experiment with new innovations to MLB.
Bring in newly elected Mayor of Chicago, Edward Kelly. Kelly approached the Chicago Tribune with this idea of a major sporting event to pair with the 1933 World"s Fair to create a sense of optimism during the struggle that was the Great Depression.
This event turned into the league"s first All-Star Game. Sports editors of the Chicago Tribune pitched the idea of the finest players of the American and National Leagues. The idea of ‘The Game of the Century" gained a lot of intrigue when newspapers across the country allowed voting from fans on who would get to make the first All-Star Game in MLB history.
Of course the leading vote getter was one of the best players in MLB history, Babe Ruth. Add in the likes of Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig to the ‘Game of the Century" and baseball fans were ready to pack Comiskey Park.
The Game Itself
The American League All-Stars defeated the National League All-Stars in this key piece of MLB history. New York Yankee ace, Lefty Gomez toed the rubber for the American League All-Stars and earned the first All-Star Game win in MLB history. The first home run in All-Star Game history was none other than the Great Bambino himself, and Lefty Grove earned the first All-Star Game save.
Changes to the All-Star Game since 1933
As expected, there have been plenty of changes since the inaugural Midsummer Classic. The first big change is the creation of the Home Run Derby. There were alternatives to the Derby fans know and love throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but the first official tournament style Derby was in 1985, where former Pittsburgh Pirate and Cincinnati Red Dave Parker took home the crown.
A highly contested piece of recent MLB history is the decision to not give the winner of the All-Star Game home-field advantage in the World Series. To provide additional incentive for victory, Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the players union to give home-field advantage for the World Series to the champion of the league that won the All-Star Game, for 2003 and 2004. The agreement was extended for both 2005 and 2006, and it remained in place until 2016.
To fully appreciate the midsummer classic each year, understanding where it came from is necessary. Humble beginnings during a dark time in our country gave us ‘The Game of the Century" and put on display the many stars of the MLB. Now each All-Star game is a small blip in MLB"s rich history, but the first in Chicago gave us something to look forward to each and every year.
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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images