Play-By-Playmate: A Brief History of Everything All-Star

By Jaime Edmondson

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History is often made at the MLB All-Star Game and Jaime's compiled a handful of facts and figures to help you show off your baseball knowledge as the 83rd edition of the event draws near.


We’ve reached the halfway point of the baseball season, which means it’s time for the boys of summer to take a short recess to allow most players to prepare for the season’s home stretch and for the chosen few to play in the 83rd MLB All-Star Game… 

Often we get caught up in the here and now, caught up in who's doing what in the current season...but baseball has been a longtime American tradition so I thought this would be a good chance to actually get to know the history behind the All-Star Game. Here are some fun facts and significant moments in what has become known as the "midsummer classic."

Who but the one and only Babe Ruth could have the honor of hitting the first All-Star home run? The Babe, at 38 years old, knocked one out of Comiskey Park at the first ever All-Star Game in 1933.

But he wasn’t the oldest All-Star to go long. The Iron Man himself, Mr. Cal Ripken Jr., went yard in 2001 at the age of 40. It was his 19th and last All-Star appearance and the homer was a solo shot in the third inning to break up a tied game.  

As for the oldest All-Star, period, that honor goes to Satchel Paige, who also holds the honor of being the oldest rookie to ever play professional baseball. Paige debuted for the St. Louis Browns at the age of 42. 

Youngest All-Star? Come tomorrow it will be Bryce Harper at the ripe old age of 19. 

Though the game was actually the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward, Ted Williams once said they “invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.” Mays hit .307 with 3 home runs, 3 triples, 9 RBIs and 20 runs scored over 24 All-Star Games and was the first player to win the All-Star MVP award more than once. His 24 appearances tie him with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial for the most by a single player. 

Getting to the All-Star Game is one thing. Hitting safely in seven consecutive games is quite another. Oddly enough, the feat has been accomplished three times: by Mickey Mantle (1954-60), Joe Morgan (1971-77) and Dave Winfield (1982-88). 

We know who has been to the ASG the most and who’s had the most successful streaks, but how about single-game performances? Well, that might go to Fred Lynn, who in 1983 hit the only grand slam in ASG history, breaking eight different records in the process. Lynn’s four homers over the course of nine All-Star Games are second only to Stan Musial’s six. 

Speaking of Musial, he holds the dubious honor of being the ASG’s best pinch hitter ever, coming off the bench ten times.

Other dubious record holders include Mickey Mantle, who has struck out more than anyone else at the All-Star Game, a record 17 times over 16 games. Oddly enough, Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose, two of the most prolific hitting machines to ever take the field, also hold the bad kind of records. They’re the only two players to have ground into double plays three times in their All-Star careers. 

So there you have it. That should give you enough collected All-Star history to spout off during the game. If you think any old records will be broken or new records will be set at the 2012 game, let me know below or on Twitter at @jaimeedmondson.

 

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