MLB All-Star Game History
From April to October, fans of America's pastime spend sun-drenched afternoons and starry nights amid the enthralling din of a home crowd, the strong smells of a ballpark and the stirring spectacle of Major League Baseball. From the brightly painted seats of a baseball stadium, many young fans begin develop a cherished and long-lasting appreciation for the game as they watch their favorite players become heroes.
Every MLB franchise has a list of players who have, more than the rest, captured the admiration of fans, young and old, through late-inning heroics, unsurpassed talent, lurid personality or a flare for the dramatic. Each season, Major League Baseball brings these beloved players together at the MLB All-Star Game to give fans the unique opportunity to see the game's elite players compete on the same field.
Since 1933, the league has pitted top talent from the American League and National League against each other in an exceptional display of athleticism and tradition that has become known as the Midsummer Classic.
The first MLB All-Star Game took place on July 6, 1933 in the Chicago White Sox's home field, Comiskey Park. The event was first suggested by Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune, who thought that the game would be befitting of the city's Century of Progress Exposition.
For the inaugural game, both managers and fans were able to cast votes to select the players who would be honored by representing their league in the showdown. Beginning in 1935, managers were given the exclusive right to select the team, until fans were again allowed to take part in the selection process by choosing both teams' starters in 1947.
Because every fan has deeply held allegiances that are often scored by the die-hards of other fan bases, the selection of players to the Midsummer Classic has been an ongoing point of contention. In 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot box with such overwhelming zeal that a Red was elected to every starting position except for first base. In response, commissioner Ford Frick removed two of the Reds starters, and discontinued fan voting until 1970.
Significance of the All-Star Game
The Midsummer Classic is outwardly an event to celebrate the ongoing tradition of Major League Baseball. Usually landing on the second Tuesday in July, the game marks the halfway point of the regular season, and gives players a few days off to prepare for the home stretch. Today, events like the Home Run Derby and MLB Legends Game turn the game into a several-day festival of all things baseball.
But aside from a mere celebration, the All-Star Game has become a competitive battle between the American League and National League. For years, the face-off represented a symbolic competition to be recognized as the elite league, and a natural rivalry ensued.
Between 1960 and 1982, the National League lost only two All-Star Games - an embarrassing stretch for the AL that heightened the spirit of competition during the event. It took several years for the American League to redeem itself, but the league has only lost three games since 1988 and brings a streak of 13 consecutive All-Star Games without a loss into the 2010 Classic.
To add fuel to the fire, commissioner Bud Selig instituted a new rule after the 2002 game that would ensure that no future competitions would end in a tie. After a game in which both leagues exhausted their pitching staffs, Selig decreed that the winning team would hereafter be granted home-field advantage in the World Series.
Despite the ever-changing dynamics at the Midsummer Classic, the historic event has ceaselessly maintained a grandiose air of ritual, class and majesty that honors the game of baseball.