The Major League Baseball All-Star Game was first played in 1933 and has been played annually–with the exception of 1945–to the present. From 1959-62, two games were played each year and each contest was held at a different venue.
Currently, the National League holds the advantage over the American League with 42 wins for the Senior Circuit, while the Junior Circuit has 38 victories. There have also been two ties.
The 2012 MLB All-Star game will be played in Kansas City. The winner of the game has taken on increased importance beyond league bragging rights for the past decade. Starting in 2003, the league that wins the game will secure home-field advantage for its representative in the World Series.
PLAYER SELECTION PROCESS
The method of choosing players for the All-Star contest has gone through myriad changes over the decades. In the early years, the respective squad managers were solely responsible for deciding their rosters. Following World War II, the selection process has variously involved the fans, players, coaches and managers.
At present, fans can vote by paper ballot and the Internet for the starting position players. The pitchers and reserve position players are determined by a combination of the players’ choices and selections made by the two managers. The managers for the 2012 game will be Tony LaRussa for the NL and Ron Washington for the AL — last year’s World Series managers.
ALL-STAR GAME MEMORABLE MOMENTS
10) Fred Lynn, then a member of the California Angels, led the AL to a convincing win in 1983 by hitting a third-inning grand slam, the first and only grand slam in All-Star Game history.
9) Reggie Jackson of the Oakland A’s helped the AL to a 6-4 win in 1971 by hitting a prodigious home run in Detroit. The blast, off Pittsburgh pitcher Dock Ellis, was estimated to be on a trajectory to travel at least 520 feet before hitting a light tower.
8) In 1946, future Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams hit a memorable home run at home in Boston to lead the AL to a 12-0 shutout win. Williams’ roundtripper came off pitcher Rip Sewell and his lob-style pitch known as the “Eephus.”
7) Pittsburgh’s Dave Parker displayed his considerable defensive talents in right field at the 1979 game in Seattle. Parker gunned down AL runners at third base and home plate to help preserve the NL’s 7-6 victory. Parker was rewarded with a deserving selection as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
6) Multi-sport star Bo Jackson was at his best at the 1989 All-Star game representing the Kansas City Royals for the AL. Jackson’s all-around performance at the plate and in the field, including a monster home run to center off pitcher Rick Reuschel, led to his selection as the game’s MVP.
5) At the 1999 All-Star game in Boston, hometown pitcher Pedro Martinez led the AL to a 4-1 victory. Martinez started and struck out five of the six batters he faced. He fanned greats Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell. (Matt Williams–the fifth batter–was the only one to put the ball in play.)
4) In 1955, St. Louis star Stan Musial led the NL to a come-from-behind victory in Milwaukee by hitting the game-winning home run for a 6-5 win. The NL overcame a five-run deficit to record the victory.
3) Babe Ruth, nearing the end of his legendary career, hit a home run at the first All-Star game in 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
2) Baseball ironman Cal Ripken, winding his career down after 19 seasons, made his last All-Star game in 2001 a memorable one as he hammered the first pitch he saw in the third inning for a home run. The AL won the game played in Seattle by a 4-1 score ,and Ripken was awarded the MVP.
1) In 1934 at the second All-Star game, NL starting pitcher Carl Hubbell, facing an AL lineup full of future Hall of Famers, recorded five consecutive strikeouts. He fanned Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. The thrills provided by great players at the first two All-Star contests propelled the game on its way to also being known as the Midsummer Classic.
Patrick Hattman covers the Olympics for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is also a long-suffering fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and longs for the days of his youth when the team regularly put some of baseball’s best talent on the turf at Three Rivers Stadium.