By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The All-Star game has been steeped in controversy for much of the last decade. It was 10 years ago that there was no winner or loser in the game because the National League had run out of pitchers and commissioner Bud Selig called the game a tie after the two teams finished 11 innings.
It was shortly after that he decided to tie the All-Star game to homefield advantage in the World Series. Why many critics point to this as some kind of abomination, it’s really not. If it gets both teams to play harder and make the game more compelling, so much the better.
Chicago has played a key role throughout the history of the All-Star game. Start off with the fact that the All-Star game was the brainchild of a Chicago Tribune sports editor named Arch Ward and the first All-Star game was played in Comiskey Park in 1933.
Here’s a look at some of the most memorable Chicago moments. For the purpose of this story, we are looking at either key games played in Chicago or contributions by Chicago players:
American League 13, National League 3 (1983, Comiskey Park) – The American League had been suffering for years … make that decades. The National League had won 19 of the previous 20 All-Star games when Comiskey Park hosted the All-Star game for the third time. The American League had often gotten off to good starts and taken the lead in many games, but the National League had dominating talent and always managed to win.
But not this time. The American League had a 2-1 league going into the bottom of the third inning. Jim Rice led off with a line drive home run in the left field stands and that touched off a 7-run rally. The key blow in the inning was Fred Lynn’s grand slam off of Atlee Hammaker of the San Francisco Giants. That remains the only grand slam in the history of the All-Star game and it led to massive relief in the American League dugout.
National League 5, American League 4, 12 innings (1970, Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati) – The most famous play in All-Star game history is undoubtedly Pete Rose flying around third base and crashing into American League catcher Ray Fosse in 1970 and scoring the winning run in the All-Star game. This was clearly one of the best and most entertaining All-Star games ever played. While Rose is remembered as the hero of the game for the National League, it was Jim Hickman of the Chicago Cubs who got the game-winning hit. Hickman’s ground ball base hit to centerfield off of California Angels pitcher Clyde Wright allowed Rose to score the memorable game winner.
American League 4, National League 2, (1933, Comiskey Park) – This was the initial All-Star game and nobody had any idea that it would become a staple of summer. It was played at the same time as the Chicago World’s Fair and nobody knew what to expect. However, when Babe Ruth hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning off National League starting pitcher “Wild” Bill Hallahan, the All-Star game had it’s “I was there” moment and soon became a permanent institution.
National League 4, American League 3, 14 innings (1950, Comiskey Park) – Two major developments in this All-Star game. Red Schoendienst won this game for the National League with a home run in the top of the 14th inning , marking the first time an All-Star game went into extra innings. The other development was a major injury suffered by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. In the first inning, Williams caught a drive to left hit by Pittsburgh slugger Ralph Kiner and crashed into the wall. Despite breaking his left arm, Williams played the entire game and even got a hit. The rest of his season was ruined by the injury.
American League 9, National League 4 (1962, Wrigley Field) – This game marked the last of the four years in which two All-Star games were played. The American Leaguers would hit three home runs in what would turn into an easy victory. It would also be the last time the American League would win in a National League city until the 1986 All-Star game in Houston.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.