by Harold Friend
Arch Ward was the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune from 1930 until his death in 1955. He was a powerful, influential individual who could sell sand at Jones Beach. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Ward argued that "baseball needed to show that it was not in a state of decadence." Chicago was going to have the Century of Progress World's Fair that summer and Ward suggested that an all-star game between the two leagues would bring baseball to new heights. Some owners opposed the idea, but with the help of American League president Will Harridge, the game was set for July 6 at Comiskey Park.
The National League Had to Regain Respect
Winning the game was as important as winning the World Series. The upstart American League started business in 1901 and had dominated the senior circuit in the World Series. In 1927, 1928, and 1932, the Yankees swept National League teams, and in 1929 and 1930, Connie Mack's Athletics were World Champions. National Leaguers looked at the all star game as a way to regain lost respect, but the prevalent view was that the only way to get respect was to win the series, a position that is not favored by most individuals in 2008.
A Chance for Players to Meet Each Other
The all star game gave some of the greats the opportunity to not only play against each other -- it was the first time they would MEET each other. Unless they faced each other during the exhibition season or in the World Series, many players never saw their counterparts from the other league. Paul Waner and his brother Lloyd, two of the Pirates' great stars, never even saw Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig until the 1927 World Series. While fans in Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston could see players from both leagues, that wasn't the case in major league cities with only one team.
Many Hall of Famers
Seven of the nine American League starters were Hall of Famers. There was Lou Gehrig at first base, Charlie Gehringer at second base, Joe Cronin at shortstop, Babe Ruth in right field, Al Simmons in left field, Rick Ferrell behind the plate, and Lefty Gomez on the mound. The AL bench might have been ever better. Jimmy Foxx, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, and Earl Averill are all in the Hall of Fame. National League starters included Hall of Famers Bill Terry at first, Frankie Frisch at second, Chick Hafey in left, and Chuck Klein in right. Bench Hall of Famers were Pie Traynor, Paul Waner, and Gabby Hartnett.
The American League Wins
The American League won the game, 4-2 behind the pitching of Lefty Gomez and Lefty Grove (another Hall of Famer and probably the greatest left handed pitcher in baseball history). Babe Ruth struck out in his first at bat, and amazingly, offensively challenged Left Gomez singled home the first run in the second inning. Babe Ruth hit a two run home run in the third for a 3-0 AL lead. After NL hurler Lon Warneke tripled in the sixth, Frankie Frisch hit a home run to cut the deficit to one run, but the AL scored the game's final run when pinch hitter Earl Averill singled home Joe Cronin.
Pitchers Had to Hit
Isn't it interesting that pitchers Lefty Gomez and Lon Warneke each got an important hit. Gomez was one of the worst hitters to ever swing a bat while Warneke was a decent hitter for a pitcher. Fans love to see long shots win. That happened when Gomez singled home the first run in all star game history. Isn't the designated hitter wonderful?
Kieran, John. "Excitement in All Directions." New York Times. 6 July 1933, p.17.