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The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League, currently selected by a combination of fans, players, coaches, and managers. The All-Star Game usually occurs on the second Tuesday in July and marks the symbolic halfway point in the Major League Baseball (MLB) season (though not the mathematical halfway point; in most seasons, that actually takes place one week earlier). The game is usually played on a Tuesday, with no regular-season games scheduled on the day before or the day after. From 1959 to 1962, two All-Star Games were held each season, but this format was abandoned. Players usually wear their own team uniforms.
The 2011 All-Star Game was played at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks; the 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the Kansas City Royals. It has been officially announced that the 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field in Queens, New York, home of the the New York Mets.
The venue for each All-Star Game is chosen by a MLB selection committee. The chosen venue may be based on the opening of a new field, a historical occasion, or to commemorate a significant year. The New York Mets successfully bid for the 2013 All-Star Game in their home ballpark, Citi Field, which was opened in 2009; the Mets have not hosted the All-Star Game since 1964, the longest drought in All-Star history. The Minnesota Twins are bidding for the 2014 game for Target Field. The Chicago Cubs are also bidding for the 2014 game for the centennial of Wrigley Field. The Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals are bidding for the 2015 game.
The first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois, at Comiskey Park and was the brainchild of Arch Ward, then sports editor for The Chicago Tribune. Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one. Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy", given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.
The game's venue traditionally alternates between the two leagues every year. This tradition has been broken twice. The first time was in 1951, when the American League's Detroit Tigers hosted the annual game as part of the city's 250th birthday. It was broken again in 2007, when the National League's San Francisco Giants were the host for the 2007 All-Star Game. That scheduling set it up so the 2008 game would be held in the scheduled final season at the American League's Yankee Stadium (New York). As of 2009, an American League stadium is scheduled to host the all-star game in even-numbered years and a National League stadium in odd-numbered years.
The "home team" is the league in which the host franchise plays its games. The criteria for choosing the venue are subjective; for the most part, cities with new parks and cities who have not hosted the game in a long time — or ever — tend to get the nod. In the first two decades of the game, ballparks in Philadelphia and St. Louis were home to more than one team. This led to some shorter-than-usual gaps between the use of those two ballparks: Shibe Park (later known as Connie Mack Stadium) in Philadelphia and Sportsman's Park (the third ballpark with that name; later known as Busch Stadium, the first of three stadiums with that name) in St. Louis. In Philadelphia, the A.L.'s Athletics hosted the game in 1943, and the N.L.'s Phillies in 1952. In St. Louis, the National League's Cardinals hosted the game in 1940, and the American League's Browns in 1948.
To date, only two franchises have never hosted a game: the Miami Marlins (although scheduled to host the game in 2000, Major League Baseball moved the game to Atlanta), and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Washington Nationals franchise hosted the game when they were the Montreal Expos, and All-Star Games have been played in D.C., hosted by both incarnations of the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers).
Of the remaining 28 franchises, the New York Mets have gone the longest period without hosting since their sole hosting duty in 1964, but this streak will come to an end in 2013. The Dodgers will then become the team with the longest active hosting drought (1980). Seventeen teams—the Atlanta Braves (1972 and 2000), Chicago White Sox (1983 and 2003), Cincinnati Reds (1970 and 1988), Cleveland Indians (1981 and 1997), Detroit Tigers (1971 and 2005), Houston Astros (1968, 1986, and 2004), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1967, 1989, and 2010), Milwaukee Brewers (1975 and 2002), Minnesota Twins (1965 and 1985), New York Yankees (1977 and 2008), Philadelphia Phillies (1976 and 1996), Pittsburgh Pirates (1974, 1994, and 2006), San Diego Padres (1978 and 1992), San Francisco Giants (1984 and 2007), Seattle Mariners (1979 and 2001), and St. Louis Cardinals (1966 and 2009), and the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers (1969 and 1995)—have all hosted the All-Star Game at least twice. By July 10, 2012, that list will include the Kansas City Royals (1973 and 2012).
Following the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in 2008 (the stadium's final season), Yankee Stadium joined Cleveland's old Cleveland Stadium, also known as Municipal Stadium prior to its demolition, as the only stadiums to host four Major League Baseball All-Star Games.
Normally the managers of the All-Star Game are the managers the previous year's league pennant winners. The coaching staff for each team is selected by its manager.
This honor is given to the manager, not the team, so it is possible that the All-Star manager could no longer be with the team with which he won. This happened in 2003, when Dusty Baker managed the National League team despite having moved from the National League champion San Francisco Giants to the Chicago Cubs. This has also included situations where the person is no longer actively managing a team. For the first All-Star Game, intended as a one-time event, Connie Mack and John McGraw were regarded as baseball's venerable managers, and were asked to lead the American and National League teams, respectively. McGraw came out of retirement for that purpose. Dick Williams resigned after managing the Oakland Athletics to the 1973 World Series. In 1974, he became manager of the California Angels, whose uniform he wore for the game.
In 1979, Bob Lemon managed the American League team after having been fired by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Lemon led the Yankees to the 1981 World Series but did not make it to the '82 All-Star Game as manager after again being fired by Steinbrenner, so Billy Martin, skipper of the 1981 AL runner-up Oakland Athletics, led the All-Star squad.
There have been some exceptional cases where the usual rule was abandoned. After the 1964 season and the World Series, the managers, Johnny Keane of the St. Louis Cardinals and Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees, both left their teams and found new jobs in the other league—Keane was hired to manage the Yanks and Berra became a player-coach with the New York Mets. The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds had finished in a second-place tie in the NL; the Chicago White Sox had finished second in the AL. Cincinnati's manager, Fred Hutchinson, had died in the off-season, so Gene Mauch of the Phillies and Al Lopez of the White Sox were chosen to be the managers for the 1965 All-Star Game.
Because of the season-ending 1994-95 MLBPA strike, for 1995 the leagues chose the managers of the clubs with the best records at the time the season was abandoned, Buck Showalter of the New York Yankees and Felipe Alou of the Montreal Expos for the All-Star Game.
***MLB Commissioner Bud Selig named La Russa to manage the National League for the 2012 All-Star Game; La Russa was the second manager in league history to manage an All-Star Game following retirement; Cardinals won the 2011 N.L. Pennant and World Series.
Until 2009, each league's All-Star team consisted of 32 players. On July 1, 2009, MLB added a 33rd player to each league's team roster.
The players for each league's team are selected through the following process:
In 1947, fans were given the opportunity to vote on the eight starting position players. In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box (see below), and elected a Red to every position except first base. Commissioner Ford Frick stepped in and removed two Reds from the lineup. As a response to this unfairness, fan voting was discontinued. Players, coaches, and managers were given the sole authority to elect starting position players, for the next dozen years.
Between the lack of fan input and over-exposure due to the double All-Star Games during 1959-1962, interest in the game was thought to be waning. As part of the rise of the MLB Promotion Corporation's attempts to modernize marketing of baseball, fan balloting for the starting eight was restored for the 1970 game.
Sometime in the 1960s, the distinction between left-fielder, center-fielder, and right-fielder was dropped, and it was provided that the top 3 vote-getters in the outfield category would start regardless of position. Prior to that the situation included remarks like "If you had Clemente, you couldn't have Aaron," and so on.
Rico Carty was the first player ever selected to an All-Star team as a write-in candidate by fans, in 1970, the first year that voting was given back to the fans. Upon getting elected, he was quoted as saying "Thanks to the fans for making this possible, and thanks to Gillette for making this all necessary."
Steve Garvey was the second player ever selected to an All-Star team as a write-in candidate by fans, in 1974. He was later the Most Valuable Player of that game as well as the National League MVP for that year.
Until 2003, reserves and pitchers were chosen by the manager. Player voting was re-introduced in 2003 because the managers were criticized for picking players from their own team over more deserving players from other teams. This was particularly evident in 2002, when National League manager Bob Brenly selected his own catcher, Damian Miller, over the more deserving Paul Lo Duca; while American League manager Joe Torre selected his own third baseman, Robin Ventura, over the Oakland Athletics' Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-winning third baseman Eric Chavez.
Before the 2009 game, Major League Baseball announced that an additional pitcher would be added to each roster, bringing the total for each league to 33 players. The following year, MLB announced that an extra position player would be added to each roster for the 2010 game and beyond, bringing the total to 34 for each league.
One continuing controversy of the player selection process is the rule that each team has to have at least one representative on its league's All-Star roster. Opponents of the rule contend that the purpose of the game is to spotlight Major League Baseball's best players, and that some superior players are left off the roster in favor of possibly less deserving players from weaker teams. This argument is strengthened by the greater urgency of winning the game, due to the rule that the winning league attains home field advantage in the World Series. Supporters of the rule point out that this rule spreads interest in the game, and prevents large-market teams from totally dominating the squad.
A number of compromises have been suggested in the media, such as limiting the number of representatives a particular team could have, requiring only that a certain percentage of teams be represented, or expanding the size of the All-Star rosters to mitigate the issue.
If a team trades its lone All-Star before the game, its league's All-Star Game manager is not required to include another player from that team.
In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box and elected 7 Reds players to start in the All-Star Game: Johnny Temple (2B), Roy McMillan (SS), Don Hoak (3B), Ed Bailey (C), Frank Robinson (LF), Gus Bell (CF), and Wally Post (RF). The only non-Red elected to start for the National League was St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Stan Musial. While the Reds were a great offensive team, most baseball observers agreed that they did not deserve seven starters in the All-Star Game. An investigation showed that over half of the ballots cast came from Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Enquirer had printed up pre-marked ballots and distributed them with the Sunday newspaper to make it easy for Reds fans to vote often. There were even stories of bars in Cincinnati not serving alcohol to customers until they filled out a ballot.
Commissioner Ford Frick appointed Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves to substitute for Reds players Gus Bell and Wally Post, and took fan voting rights away in future games. Managers, players, and coaches picked the entire team until 1969, when the vote for starters again returned to the fans. To guard against ballot stuffing, since 1969 until the start of internet voting, each team has been given the same number of ballots to hand out. In 1998, that number was roughly 400,000 ballots.
The 1988 Game was surrounded by tacit accusations against Oakland A's fans of stuffing the ballot box in favor of catcher Terry Steinbach, whose qualifications as a starter were questioned by some sportswriters. Steinbach wound up being named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Since the dawn of the internet age, online voting has again led to ballot stuffing. In 1999, Nomar Garciaparra gained over 14,000 votes due to an automated computer program. Major League Baseball assures that they have taken precautions to guard against this.
In 1989, the DH was allowed in the All-Star Game for the first time. Until 2010, the designated hitter rule was applied based on the league in which the host team plays; it was used for games played in American League ballparks - in each such instance, both teams used a designated hitter - while in National League ballparks, lineups have scheduled the pitcher to hit, though pinch hitters have almost always been used. In 2010, Major League Baseball announced the designated hitter rule would apply for every All-Star Game; while the 2010 game was already to have the DH, the 2011 game was the first played in a National League park with a DH.
Of the eighteen players who started the 1934 game, only one, Wally Berger, is not in the Hall of Fame. Brooks Robinson (1966) and Carl Yastrzemski (1970) are the only players to be named All-Star MVP while playing for the losing team. In 1983, Fred Lynn hit the first grand slam in an All-Star Game. In 1985, the American League started seven future Hall of Famers: Rickey Henderson (CF), George Brett (3B), Eddie Murray (1B), Cal Ripken (SS), Dave Winfield (RF), Jim Rice (LF), and Carlton Fisk (C). This is the most Hall of Famers ever in a starting lineup for an All-Star Game, not including Veterans Committee inductees. In 1991, Cal Ripken, Jr. became the only player to win the Home Run Derby, All Star Game MVP and American League MVP awards during the same season. In 2000, Derek Jeter became the first player to win All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in the same year. In 2003, Garret Anderson won the Home Run Derby and was elected MVP for the All Star Game. In 2007, Ichiro Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in an All-Star Game.
The Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award is given to the most outstanding player in each year's game. Awarded each season since 1962, it was originally called the Arch Ward Memorial Award, after the man who first came up with the concept of the All-Star game. In 1970, the name was changed to the Commissioner's Trophy. In 1985, the name change was reversed (so that the World Series Trophy — first awarded in 1967 — could be renamed the Commissioner's Trophy). In 2002, the trophy was renamed The Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, in honor of former Boston Red Sox player Ted Williams, who had died earlier that year.
Since the first All-Star Game, American League players have worn their respective team uniforms rather than wearing uniforms made specifically for the game, while National League players waited until the second game to do this. In the first All-star game, they wore uniforms made for the game with the lettering "NATIONAL LEAGUE" across the front of the shirt.
During the All-Star Games of the 70s and 80s, alternate jerseys were commonly worn by players from the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. When the late 1980s and early 1990s approached, fewer alternates were worn for the games. They were back in use for the 1992 game by White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell and infielder Robin Ventura, and for the final time in the 1997 game by Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr..
At Fenway Park in Boston on July 31, 1961, the first All-Star Game tie in history occurred when the game was stopped after the 9th inning due to rain. The only other rain-shortened game had been in 1952, but it had a winner.
The 2002 All-Star Game, held in Milwaukee, ended in controversy in the 11th inning, when both teams ran out of substitute players available to pitch in relief. At that point, Commissioner Bud Selig (a Milwaukee native and former owner of the Brewers) declared the game to end after 11 innings, an eventual tie. The crowd booed and the media were highly critical of this unsatisfying conclusion.
To provide additional incentive for victory, Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the players union to award home-field advantage for the World Series to the champion of the league that won the All-Star Game, for 2003 to 2004. Since then, the agreement was extended twice, in 2005 and 2006, after which it was made permanent. Previously, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated between the two leagues each year. The American League took advantage of the new rule in each of its first seven years: between 2003 and 2009, the American League won four series and the National League won three. The National League champion benefited from this rule for the first time in 2010.
Even under the new rule, there is no guarantee that a repeat of the 2002 situation might not occur. To avoid future ties due to lack of eligible players, managers have been instructed to hold back, and have voluntarily held back, a few select position players and pitchers. This has resulted in some disappointment and controversy when those players are never actually used in the game. (example: Tim Wakefield in the 2009 All-Star Game) Such a catch-22 has resulted in calls to allow limited re-entry of players who have been replaced during the game (in addition to catchers, which is already allowed), thereby giving the freedom to use all the players on the roster without restricting teams into a situation where no players are available. Starting with the 2010 game, each league's manager is allowed to designate one position player who can re-enter the game to replace an injured player at any position; this is in addition to the existing rule covering catchers.
A tie game could also be deemed a "suspended game" in which case it would become a tie if no make-up date was scheduled. It would be extremely difficult to find such a make-up date: Major League Baseball would have to postpone one or more days of the regular season and/or schedule the make-up date on the travel day between the regular season and the Division Series. However, there is an offday for all teams the day after the All-Star Game. If necessary, the game could be finished in the morning or afternoon on Wednesday.
83 All-Star Games have been played (including two games per year from 1959-1962), with the National League winning 43, the American League 38, and 2 ties. The All-Star Game has seen several "eras" in which one league tended to dominate. From 1933 to 1949, the American League won 12 out of the first 16. The National League dominated from 1950 to 1987, winning 33 of 42 with 1 tie. This included a stretch from 1963 to 1982 when it won 19 of 20, including 11 in a row from 1972 to 1982. Since 1988 the American League has dominated, winning 18 of 23 with 1 tie, including a 13 game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) from 1997 to 2009. The National League ended their 13 year drought with a 3-1 victory in 2010 and won again most recently in 2011.
As of the 2011 All-Star Game, the cumulative run totals for all 82 games played was 685 — closely split between the leagues — with 341 runs for the American League and 344 for the National League.
The longest All-Star Game — in terms of innings — lasted 15 innings, which has occurred twice: 1967 and 2008. The longest game — in terms of time — was 2008, with a total time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.
Since 1963, the All-Star Game has been played on a Tuesday in July every year except three: in 1969, the game was rained out and moved to Wednesday afternoon, July 23 (making it the last afternoon All-Star Game); in 1981, the game was moved to Sunday, August 9 because of a players' strike; and in 1983, the game was played on Wednesday night, July 6 at Chicago's Comiskey Park—50 years to the day after the first All-Star Game in the same location. The 1981 game is the only MLB All-Star Game to be played on a weekend.
There were two All-Star Games played each season from 1959 to 1962. The second game was added to raise money for the players' pension funds, as well as other causes. The experiment was abandoned on the grounds that having two games watered down the appeal of the event.
In 1981, the All-Star Game was moved from July to August, for that year only. The middle portion of the 1981 season, including the scheduled All-Star break, had been erased due to the players' strike. To promote the resumption of the season, the game (in Cleveland) was moved from its original July date to August 9. Second-half regular-season play began the next afternoon with a game in Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Since 1999, the All-Star Futures Game has been held during All-Star Week. The two teams, one consisting of young players from the United States and the other consisting of young players from all other nations, are usually chosen based on prospect status in the minor leagues.
Since 2001, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game pits teams with a mixture of former stars from the host team's past, as well as celebrities from music, film, and television. This game is held the day before the Home Run Derby. (However it is tape-delayed and broadcast after the Derby)
Since 2002, the ESPY Awards ceremony has been conducted on the Wednesday in July following the MLB All-Star Game. Because none of the major North American professional leagues have games scheduled for that day — the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League are not in-season, and MLB does not have games that day — major sports figures are available to attend. The show used to air on the subsequent Sunday five days later, with the results announced on ESPN.com and thereafter across media outlets immediately after taping was complete. In 2010, the ESPY Awards were shown live for the first time.
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