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Cubs All-Star Moments: 1962 All-Star Game

Wrigley Field as it appeared on September 14, 1962. (Photo courtesy eBay member nicepictures)
Wrigley Field as it appeared on September 14, 1962. (Photo courtesy eBay member nicepictures)

Wrigley Field hosted its second All-Star Game in 1962, and it was another "second" -- the second game held that year. From 1959 through 1962, MLB held two All-Star games each year; the theory, beyond "if some is good, more must be better", was that the games were contributing money toward the players' pension funds. In that era, just before labor/management negotiations took a turn toward the contentious, it was a gesture from management to the players.

Past 1962, it was decided that two was too many -- not enough interest either from the general public or the TV networks, and so they went back to one game in 1963. The photo above, obviously, isn't from the All-Star Game itself, given the empty seats -- I originally posted it here on December 4, 2009, as part of a postseason series of old Wrigley photos. Here's the post that sleuthed out exactly when it was taken, which was during a Cubs/Dodgers game on Friday, September 14, 1962, just six weeks after the July 30, 1962 date of the ASG at Wrigley.

The AL won the game 9-4; it was the last AL win for nine years, until 1971, in an era of NL dominance. Ernie Banks, who went 1-for-2, and George Altman (0-for-1 as a PH) were the only Cubs to participate.

But a more interesting story was told about this game by BCB'er ernaga in this post from last year. Follow me past the jump for his story of how the center field bleachers were filled for the '62 All-Star Game -- people sitting there for the final time.

Well, two All-Star Games may be a perfect example of wretched excess, but it sure didn’t seem that way on a hot and beautiful July 30, 1962, as I turned the corner at Waveland, walking east, and saw a crowd waiting to buy bleacher tickets already doubled-up at 10 a.m. Earlier that morning, I listened to a neighbor tell me what a waste of time it was to go without tickets and, as I looked for the end of the line, I realized he probably was right. To this day, I don’t know if some or all bleacher tickets for that game were supposed to be reserved, but with almost no movement on the line that morning, the unofficial word went out: "No more seats." That rumor sent a few people home, before an official came out to mark a cutoff that was well ahead of me. As many more fans started walking away, I too was about to give up and head over to Henry’s for lunch.

Suddenly, and likely to his regret, that same official stepped back to announce that an unknown number of additional tickets now would be made available. His words instantly changed the air pressure along Waveland and produced the sound of a thundering herd from the west – a classic bums’ rush was about to achieve critical mass, and who was I to remain on the sidelines? Sure enough, the mad scramble paid off. Order was restored only after at least 50 of us rushed the line, bought tickets and headed up the ramp. Turning right at the concession stand, I saw the bleachers already packed, except, of course, for the Batter’s Eye section that had been closed since 1952. I looked around again and, incredibly, a smiling Andy Frain usher was holding open the chain-link gate to that centerfield section and beckoning me to step inside. Immediately, I headed down past rows of rotting bleachers to the best seat in the house, front row, slightly left of dead center, and watched batting practice as the rest of the Eye filled up behind me. Not bad for $1.50 and a few splinters.

It only took me another 48 years to figure out the reasons for my incredible good luck that day: the relative novelty of network sports broadcasts in color, the need for MLB to show its best face in the ASG showcase, and the eyesore those empty, rotten centerfield bleachers must have been to network and MLB executives looking at color monitors. All these things created the need for a short-term fix, and placing fans in the Eye provided an ideal last-minute cover to make Wrigley Field picture-perfect and ready for its first-ever close-up in a national telecast of an important game.