Play the All-Star Game To Win the All-Star Game

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 13, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  American League All-Stars (L-R) Joe Crede #24 of the Chicago White Sox, Derek Jeter #2 and Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees, and Carlos Guillen #9 of the Detroit Tigers talk on the field before the 79th MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Winning the All-Star Game recently became so unimportant, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig felt he had to do something.

Selig decided the league that wins the annual Summer Classic gets home field advantage in the World Series.

The All-Star Game is played purely to entertain.

However, there was a time when it was a baseball game that each league wanted to win just for the sake of winning.



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.

Unlike today, many played the entire game.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

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 Rosen 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 what Garry Templeton said in 1978.

Said Templeton, after learning 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.

The NL 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

Mantle, Berra, Rosen, Avila, Minoso, and Chico Carrasquel played the entire game for the American League.

Alvin Dark, Snider, and Musial played the entire game for the National League.



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 with two outs in the eighth inning. Alvin Dark was on first and Red Schoendienst on third.

The count on Duke Snider went to 1-1 when Schoendienst got thrown 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 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.



References

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).