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by Harold Friend
Winning the all-star game became so unimportant that Bud Selig decided the league that wins the all-star game gets the home field advantage in the World Series. The all-star game is played purely to entertain, but there was a time when it was a baseball game that each league wanted to win because the purpose of playing the all-star game was to win the all-star game..
Casey Stengel Won Five World Series But Lost Four All-Star Games
Casey Stengel managed the Yankees to World Championships from 1949-1953, but he managed the American League all-stars to losses his first four tries. In 1954, he hoped to break that dubious streak.
Three Innings or More
Fans voted for the starters, who were required to play at least the first three innings and many, unlike today, played the entire game. The fans voted Al Rosen as the American League's first baseman, but Rosen had been moved back to his regular third base position by the Indians. Stengel could not move Al to third base until the teams had played three innings.
"If I Ain't Startin', I Ain't Departin'"
Starting pitchers pitched their three-inning limit, unless they were ineffective. Many players who did not start did not play, and almost no one complained. It was inconceivable that a player would say, as Garry Templeton did in 1978 when he learned he was not the National League's starting shortstop, "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'."
Powerful National League Hitters
The 1954 American League team was underdogs to the more powerful National Leaguers, who boasted a batting order that included Stan Musial, Duke Snider, Ted Kluszewski, Roy Campanella, and Jackie Robinson. Willie Mays, Gil Hodges, Frank Thomas, Gus Bell, Handsome Ransom Jackson, and Don Mueller were on the bench. The American League starters included Mickey Mantle, Al Rosen, Minnie Minoso, Bobby Avila, and Yogi Berra, with Ted Williams on the bench.
Played the Entire Game
The Strange Case of Dean Stone
The primary purpose of playing the all-star game was to win the all-star game. In 1954, the American League, led by Al Rosen's two home runs, beat the National League, 11-9. Dean Stone was the winning pitcher, despite not retiring a batter.
Stone relieved Bob Keegan in the eighth inning with Alvin Dark on first and Red Schoendienst on third, and two outs. The count on Duke Snider went to 1-1 when Schoendienst was out attempting to steal home. The American League went ahead in the bottom of the eighth, making Stone the winning pitcher.
Goal is Victory
Young baseball fans can only wonder at what it would be like to watch an all-star game in which the primary goal was to win. The best chance of achieving that objective is for each league to use its best players for as long as necessary. That hasn't happened in years, and it will not happen in the future. That's entertainment.
By ARTHUR DALEY. (1954, July 7). Sports of The Times :The All-Star Selections. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 25. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 84125166).
By JOHN DREBINGERSpecial to The New York Times.. (1954, July 14). American League's 17 Hits End National's All-Star Game Streak at Four :BATTING OF ROSEN PACES 11-9 VICTORY Indian Slugger Hits 2 Homers and Drives In 5 Runs for American League Stars. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 34. Retrieved May 13, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 84126253).