“A Mid Summer Night’s Dream”
The stars come out tonite in Cleveland. It’s baseball’s iconic All Star Game.
Color, history, electricity.
The best face the best, in what is really more than just an exhibition game.
It’s flair, dynamics, passion.
It started in 1933 as a charity game in Chicago, to raise funds. It marked a beginning of a tradition that no one could derail…not World War II…..Baseball Labor strife…nor even Commissioner Bud Selig.
They play tonite in Cleveland, the annual meeting between the two leagues. Only once, in 1945, was the game postponed.
There have been controversies. Games rained out. Played in the rain. Tie games. Beanballs, ejections, and All Star game shutdown when they ran out of pitchers in the 2002-Selig era.
Even the most absurd, when baseball sponsored two All Star Games from 1959-to-1962.
Then more recently, the Selig driven rule, that the league that won the All Star Game, would have home field advantage for the World Series. Glad that’s gone now.
We remember individual accomplishments, but also the sense of honoring the past, like Tony Gwynn did, escorting Ted Williams, in a wheelchair, to the mound at Fenway Park.
Big days and big plays are what we remember, whether we were a kid, or a 70-year old fan.
Babe Ruth won the first ever game with a home run in that 1933-debut. No one really knew what baseball had stumbled upon with this so-called charity game, that became a treat every summer for fans and players alike.
Big bombs have highlited what we have seen in past July’s.
Tony Perez hit a 15th inning homer in 1967.
Stan Musial of the Cardinals won the game with a blast in 1955
Cal Ripken’s farewell season with the Orioles included an All Star home run forever remembered.
Jackie Robinson became the first colored player to be in the game in 1949, joined by his Brooklyn teammates Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella and the Indians’ Larry Doby.
But it’s the drama, and the accomplishment that forever lives on.
The best moments of all time?
Ted Williams 1946 outing when he went (4-4) coming back from war.
Or Teddy Ballgame’s 3-run home run in the 9th inning, just before baseball went off to war in 1941.
Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, put on a show at Tigers’ Stadium with a 525′ foot home into the light towers, atop the roof in Detroit.
We have video of Pete Rose’s Charley Hustle head first dive, burying Indians catcher Ray Fosse at home plate in 1970.
And you can find the grainy black and white video of King Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants, striking out 5-Hall of Famers in a row, in 1934. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmuy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin all went down swinging at that impossible to hit screwball in the Polo Grounds..
Baseball has made this a week of Mardi-Gras like festivals during the All Star Break. Home Run Derby, the Futures Game, the Fan Fest, and then the game itself.
Sit back, relax, remember, and then enjoy all things baseball, what was done in the past, what we have to look forward to, tonite.
A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream….that keeps recurring every July. A very special time in baseball.