“Baseball History-Baseball Memories”
It’s nights like tonite when you see the emotional link baseball holds on its fans…grandfathers-to-fathers…fathers-to-sons……sons-to the next generation.
What started as a 1-year experiment, became a fixture on the July baseball schedule, the All Star Game, the Mid summer night classic.
It was 1933, with the Chicago World Exposition underway, the idea was hatched, to bring all of baseball’s stars together to play. Tonight will be the 87th renewal of a game that was supposed to be played just that one summer.
Legendary Babe Ruth took care of the experiment, with a 9th inning home run, to give the American League the win. The game would become part of baseball’s calendar, and its record book too.
The following year, with 9-future Hall of Famers playing at the same time, Giants lefthander Carl Hubbell set a record never to be broken. He struck five in a row…five Hall of Famers in a row. Babe Ruth- Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. It was 1934, never to be forgotten, nor duplicated.
In 1941, just before the onset of World War II, the record setting summers of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were taking place. The Thumper would hit (.406) in the season before he left for the war. A mark still standing. Joe DiMaggio would set sail on his 56-game hitting streak, still intact. And in that game, Teddy Ballgame hit a 3-run homer in the 9th to win it for the AL.
In 1955, Stan-the-Man, Stan Musial, sent them all home happy with a 3-run homer in the 12th inning.
The picture from 1970 is forever emblazoned on everyone’s mind, as Pete Rose crashed into Ray Fosse at home plate, a hit likely heard round the world too.
Oh the big nights were seldom to be topped by Reggie Jackson and his 1971-moon shot home run, a mammoth blast onto the roof at old Tigers Stadium.
And no one forgets the final at-bat, the farewell tour around the bases, as Cal Ripken hit a homer in his final All Star at bat.
Of course the game is imperfect too.
In 1959, baseball decided to host two All Star games per season, taking the shine off something special. They abandoned it a couple of years later.
In 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot box, electing all 8-starters from their team to the National League starting lineup, till baseball stepped in.
The horrors of 2002, saw the game stopped after 11-innings, in a 1-1- tie, when the two teams ran out of pitching, with Commissioner Bud Selig ruling the game cannot go on.
In 2003, the much controversial decision was made that the home field advantage would go to the league that won the All Star Game, a decision still triggering passionate debate.
In 2014, baseball somehow forgot to salute Tony Gwynn, who had passed on, while mentioning so many others who had left baseball that year.
There have been bad injuries in the game too. Ted Williams fractured his elbow, badly hurting the Red Sox in 1950. Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew tore a hamstring making a play at 1st base in the 1960s. And Dizzy Dean, in the wayback decade of the 1930s, fractured a toe on a line drive hit up the middle. He would never be the same again.
And there were times to remember also. In 1999, baseball honored the wheel chair bound Ted Williams at Fenway Park. The snapshot of Tony Gwynn wheeling Teddy Ballgame out to the mound. a forever snapshot.
1993 brought us Randy Johnson and his 101-mile an hour fastball, and John Kruk bailing out of the batter’s box, not wanting to face him, and then Larry Walker turning around and batting right-handed against the Big Unit.
What happens tonite is so special, because the history of baseball, its record book, the shrine that is Cooperstown, the players and the nicknames, mean oh so much to the game. Like I said, grandfather to father, father to son, this generation to next generation.
For this special night, there is so much to remember about the ‘Grand Old Game’.