Major League Baseball’s first All-Star game took place July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth (who hit a two-run homer) and 18 other players at the ballpark that day would become Hall of Famers, as would five of the six coaches, two of the umpires and both managers, John McGraw and Connie Mack.
Lefty Gomez, starting for the American League All-Stars, picked up the win as the AL All-Stars beat the National League All-Stars 4-2. The game was meant as a one-time event but has since become the annual “Mid-Summer Classic.”
All-Star Game In Context
Sometimes in reading about baseball, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around how long a history the game has and how it has interwoven into other events as well as the lives of generations of fans.
To provide some context, here are some things that were happening in 1933.
- The original “King Kong” movie starring Fay Wray debuted in March
- Franklin D, Roosevelt was sworn in for his first term in March. He had survived an assassination attempt in Miami by Giuseppe Zangara in February
- Newsweek published for the first time
- The first drive-in theater opened near Camden, New Jersey
That also was the year of the World’s Fair in Chicago, which is the reason that the All-Star game happened in the first place.
World’s Fair Sporting Event
The World’s Fair event in Chicago celebrated the city’s 100th year and was called the Century of Progress Exposition. The idea of having a sporting event had been a part of the plans. Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward spurred the idea of an All-Star Game featuring the league’s best talent, according to the Baseball Almanac.
Fans voted for the players in ballots that were placed in newspapers around the country. The starters for the game include future Hall of Fame members Gehrig, Ruth, Gomez, Bill Terry, Frankie Frisch, Chick Hafey, Chuck Klein, Lefty Gomez, Rick Ferrell, Charlie Gehringer, Joe Cronin, and Al Simmons.
Gomez got the win and knocked in a run, while Bill Hannahan took the loss. In addition to Ruth’s home run, Frankie Frisch also homered.
The game was an enormous success, with 49,000 people attending. Money made on the game went to help disabled and needy former baseball players.
An Annual Event
With the success of 1933, baseball decided to continue the game the following year, this time at the Polo Grounds in New York City. It became an annual tradition.
Lefty Gomez of the New York Yankees started five of the first six All-Star Games for the American League from 1933 through 1938, with the lone exception being when Lefty Grove of the Boston Red Sox started in 1936.
The first MVP award was given in 1962, going to Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came into the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-runner for Stan Musial. He stole second base and ended up scoring the first run of the game, adding another when he scored from third on a foul ball to right field.
The AL leads the series 44-43 over the National League, with two ties in 1961 and 2002.