#Baseball History July 6, 2017

The Unofficial All-Star Game of 1911

By Deana Lockman- Deputy Director, Operations

It’s hard to believe we’re already near the midpoint of the major league baseball season. As we all know, that means it’s time for the All-Star Game. The voting has ended, and the teams are set for the Midsummer Classic in Miami on July 11.

Here at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the All-Star game signifies the height of our busy summer season. It’s also a time when we like to take our show on the road to celebrate the great game of baseball with fans around the region.

It seems fitting that our Mobile Museum will soon visit two cities that played a vital role in the history of All-Star baseball. We will be at Progressive Field in Cleveland from July 7-9, which is the weekend before the All-Star Game. And, we’ll be in Chicago from July 14-16 at Guaranteed Rate Field the weekend after the game. We’re thrilled to spend time with the great Indians and Sox fans, who share our passion for baseball.

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 The first official All-Star Game (pictured above) took place in Chicago at Comiskey Park on July 6, 1933. Some of the biggest names in the history of the sport played that day, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx. 

The game was the brainchild of a Chicago sports journalist named Arch Ward. Ward wanted to include the contest as part of a larger celebration in Chicago known as “Century of Progress.” The American League All-Stars won the game 4-2 as Babe Ruth hammered the first-ever home run in the All-Star Game.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re familiar with the first official All-Star Game, but did you know the first unofficial one took place in Cleveland in 1911?

In April of that year, the Cleveland Naps were on the road against the Chattanooga Lookouts when star pitcher Addie Joss suddenly fainted. Joss returned to his hometown, Toledo, Ohio, and sought care from his doctor. Just eleven days later, Addie passed away from tubercular meningitis. He was only 31 years old.

Not only was Addie a very talented baseball player; he was also a beloved teammate and competitor. The news of his death spread quickly and many of his teammates and fellow players from across professional baseball came to pay their respects to the man Nap Lajoie called, “one of the best pitchers and men that has ever been identified with the game.”

Addie Joss left behind a wife and two children. His teammates wanted to hold a benefit game in his honor to help support Addie’s family. The Naps recruited players from other American League teams to play a game against them on July 24 at Cleveland’s League Park. Boasting a roster that included Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, and Walter Johnson, it was at the time, the greatest collection of talent to ever play together on one team. 

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The All-Stars beat the Naps 5-3 that day in front of more than 15,000 fans. In the end, it wasn’t really about who won, but what the game accomplished. They raised enough money for Addie’s wife, Lillian, to pay off the rest of his medical bills.

As the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory team hits the road, we’ll be thinking of the All-Star legends of the game whose history is intertwined with our own, and celebrating the heroes of tomorrow as they take the field in Cleveland, Chicago, and Miami.