Editor’s Note from Joseph: I really love the Major League Baseball All-Star game. I was thinking about writing a post discussing my childhood home run derbies in my friends’ game room, missing so many of them for church camp each summer, my love of voting each year as a good American should, etc. But then I realized that my post would be more self-serving. THEN, I realized I’d rather read what Patrick Russell had to say. And it didn’t disappoint! Enjoy Patrick’s third guest post for us here at The Wise Guise. In case you missed his last post about baseball, check out his reflections on being a Japanese baseball fan.
Phew. I’m going to be honest with you right now: I’m exhausted. The Dog Days are soon upon us, and I am sorely in need of a break. “But,” you ask, “aren’t you a grad student/ teacher/ occasional Wise Guise guest-blogger? Don’t you get summers off and have easy Wise Guise deadlines where no one frets if you are a day or six behind when you promised to submit?” I am a grad student/ teacher/ guest blogger with a proclivity for last-minute submissions. I didn’t get here by chance. I didn’t take the road of easy. Or the path of the painless. I worked hard to write those 2.25 blogs.* For Joseph, who has been very nice not to hound me about this when I promised it to him a week ago. For all Wise Guise readers. Some call this a summer break.
It’s not a break.
It’s not a break, for I write on. The battle for the blogosphere begins now. I write for the Wise Guise. I will write. I will write. I will write. The road to October starts here. And like the commercial that I so blatantly ripped off –go ahead and watch it. I’ll wait as you marvel in this exposition of my artistic genius. OK. Oh stop it! You didn’t have to say that! You’re too kind. Such praise! ENOUGH! I’m only a man. A man with a gift.—AS I WAS SAYING…like this commercial that served as the Calliope to this Homeric endeavor, I’m pretty excited for the All-Star Game.
In preparation for tonight’s 83rd Annual MLB All-Star Game, I thought I’d give you a brief history of the MLB All-Star game. Pay attention because there’s a quiz. The quiz is a trivia quiz. On the All-Star game.
Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward conceived of the Major League Baseball All-Star game as a one-time event to coincide with Chicago’s 1933-1934 World’s Fair. The event was so popular, however, that it became an annual tradition; excepting 1945, when war-time travel restrictions made such an event impractical, there has been an All-Star Game every year since—and two a year from 1959 to 1962. The All-Star Game marks the symbolic—though not actual—halfway point of the season, and is usually—though not always—played on the second Tuesday of July. I believe Abraham Lincoln mandated that. I know he set some holiday on some day of a certain numbered week during some month. I’m pretty sure this was it. The All-Star Game has been played as early as July 6th, and as late as August 9th, 1981, when a mid-season strike threatened to prematurely end the season. The Commissioner decided to use the All-Star Game as a “prelude to resuming play,” and an attempt to win back the fans alienated by the strike. Judging by the 72,086 fans in attendance, I’d say it worked. But I’m no expert on things of that nature. I’m only an expert on Abraham Lincoln and the holidays he created.
Each league’s team is generally managed by the previous year’s pennant winning manager—again, with exceptions, as managers retire/are fired or leave their pennant-winning team for a job in the other league. Each team has 34 players on the roster (despite my best efforts, I have not been one of these 68. Yet.). Every MLB team must be represented by at least one player. Fans chose eight starting NL position players, and 8 starting AL position players plus a DH—which is always used, regardless of the venue’s league affiliation, which alternates year-to-year. Players and coaches vote for 8 pitchers (5 starters, 3 relievers), and a backup for each position player. The manger of each team then chooses 8 additional players (9 for the NL). The fans then vote on a final player for each team, out of a pool of 5 from each league. The Commissioner’s office replaces those who are injured or who decline to participate…or those who the citizens of my fair town, Cincinnati, famously cheated to elect. In 1957 the Cincinnati Enquirer put pre-voted ballots in every paper. You couldn’t even buy a drink in town unless you first filled out a ballot. 8 Reds made the team (St. Louis’s Stan Musial was the sole non-Red. He was that good.). Commissioner Frick replaced a few players with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and decided that the fans couldn’t vote for the All-Stars anymore. And then he took his ball home so the rest of us couldn’t play. Fans didn’t vote again until 1970. Thomas Jefferson must have turned over in his grave. Not Abe, though, because he’s not dead. He lives through you.
The National League leads the series 42-38-2, with the only two ties coming in 1961, when the game had to be called for rain, and—infamously—in 2002, when Bud Selig kissed his sister and called it a 7-7 tie in the eleventh inning because all the pitchers had already been used. In his attempt to sooth over fan anger at this result, Selig decided that the winning league of each All-Star Game would have home-field advantage in the World Series—which had previously alternated annually between the leagues.
And that’s the All-Star Game as we know it today. Now, as promised, a baseball trivia quiz. The answers are at the bottom. Keep score and compare results with your friends.
1. Who has hit the most home runs in the pre-All-Star Game Homerun Derby?
a. Josh Hamilton
b. Prince Fielder
c. David Ortiz
d. Robinson Cano
2. Who has played the most All-Star Games?
a. Hank Aaron
b. Willie Mays
c. Stan Musial
d. It’s a trick question! They all have the exact same!
3. Who was the first U.S. President to see the All-Star Game while in office?
a. Abraham Lincoln
b. Benjamin Harrison
c. Tricky Dick Nixon
d. Ronald Reagan
4. Which two family combinations are comprised of two All-Star Game MVPs?
a. Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr.
b. Aaron Boone and Brett Boone
c. Sandy and Robbie Alomar
d. Bobby and Barry Bonds
5. Who played the most positions in an All-Star Game?
a. Willie Mays
b. Pete Rose
c. Roberto Clemente
d. Josh Hamilton
*Correction: I have now worked hard to write those three (3) blogs. 3. For those of you keeping track at home.
1) A Hamilton hit 35 in 2008…and came in second. Ortiz has hit the most all-time. 2) D They each played in 24. 3) C. You thought it was going to be Abe, didn’t you? Harrison was the first sitting President to watch professional baseball game. Reagan was the first sitting President to watch from the dugout (as well as the first sitting President to call play-by-play during a game). Nixon was also the first sitting President to see a triple play. I wonder if he recorded it. Too soon? 4) A and C. Griffey, Sr in 1980, the Kid in 1992; Sandy in 1997, Robbie in 1998. 5) B. Rose played first, left, right, second, and third.