The Midsummer Classic is almost upon us. The National League andwill battle it out on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Sure, there's still plenty to gripe about the on-line voting, the players who were snubbed, Tony LaRussa's machinations, and the World Series home-field advantage thing. But if you're planning to watch on Tuesday night, we have some All-Star trivia, tidbits and tales to get you ready for the show.
Ballparks Hosting the All-Star Game
The first All-Star Game was played in 1933 at Comiskey Park I in Chicago. Comiskey I is one of three ballparks to host the game three times (1933, 1950, 1983). The other two are Fenway Park (1946, 1961, 1999) and Wrigley Field (1947, 1962, 1990). The first stadium to host the All-Star Game twice was the Polo Grounds V in New York (1934, 1942). Eight other ballparks also hosted the game twice: Sportsman's Park III (St. Louis), Shibe Park (Philadelphia), Crosley Field (Cincinnati), Griffith Stadium (Washington, D.C.), Forbes Field (Pittsburgh), Cleveland Stadium, Candlestick Park (San Francisco), and the Astrodome (Houston)
All-Star Game Notables
There were two All-Star Games in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1962 as a way to raise money for the players' pensions.
Stan Musial, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron each played in 24 All-Star Games.
Lefty Gomez was the starting pitcher for the American League in five All-Star Games (1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938 while with the Yankees). Robin Roberts and Don Drysdale each started for the National League All-Stars five times. Roberts did it in 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954, and 1955 while with the Phillies. Drysdale started in both All-Star Games in 1959, and in 1961, 1964 and 1969 while with the Dodgers. Warren Spahn was the National League starter three times, in 1949, 1958 and 1961, while with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. The nine years between 1949 and 1958 was the longest gap between All-Star starts for any pitcher.
Since 1933, there have been eight relief pitchers who finished the season with an ERA below 1.00. Four of them were not All-Stars in their sub-1.00 ERA season: Bill Henry (1964, Reds), Chris Hammond (2002, Braves), Dennys Reyes (2006, Twins), and Eric O'Flaherty (2011, Braves). This season, there are six relief pitchers who currently have an ERA below 1.00. Only one of those relief pitchers is an All-Star: Fernando Rodney of the Rays. The other five are not: Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri (Angels), Brad Lincoln (Pirates), Ronald Belisario (Dodgers), Robbie Ross (Rangers).
The most common score for an All-Star Game is 4-3. It's happened five times. The most runs scored by both teams, combined, in an All-Star Game is 20. In 1954, the American League beat the National League 11-9. The most runs scored by one team in an All-Star Game is 13. The American League did it twice, in 1983 and 1992. For four consecutive All-Star Games, from 1976-1979, the winning team scored seven runs.
Babe Ruth hit the first home run ever in an All-Star Game, in 1933 off Bill Hallahan. The record for most home runs hit by the two teams combined in an All-Star Game is six. It's happened three times, in 1951, 1954, and 1971. Of the 82 All-Star Games played, 14 featured zero home runs: 1938, 1944, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1966, 1968, 1978, 1985, 1990, 1990, 2009, and 2010.
Fred Lynn of the California Angels is the only player to ever hit a grand slam in an All-Star Game. He did it in 1983 off Atlee Hammaker of the Giants. Stan Musial holds the record for most career All-Star Game home runs: six. Willie Mays holds the record for most career All-Star Game stolen bases: six.
Four players were twice named the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player: Willie Mays (1963, 1968); Gary Carter (1981, 1984); Steve Garvey (1974, 1978); and Cal Ripken, Jr. (1991, 2001). In 1975, there were co-MVPs in the All-Star Game: Bill Madlock (third baseman, Cubs) and Jon Matlack (pitcher, Mets). Brooks Robinson (Orioles, 1966) and Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox, 1970) were named All-Star Game MVPs even though they played for the losing team.
"This Time It Counts!"
Since 2003, the winner of the All-Star Game has secured home-field advantage for its league in the World Series. The American League won the All-Star Game in seven consecutive seasons, from 2003 to 2009. In three of those seven seasons, the National League pennant winner won the World Series despite not having home-field advantage: 2003 Marlins, 2006 Cardinals, and 2008 Phillies.
There you have it, baseball fans. This year's version of All-Star Game trivia, tidbits and tales. Tune in on Tuesday night to see what will be added from the 2012 Midsummer Classic.