Did you know that All-Star Game history could have begun at Wrigley Field in 1933, instead of Comiskey Park?
As you likely know, the game was begun as an idea from Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. But Ward didn't specifically favor the White Sox and Comiskey Park for the game -- according to Stuart Shea's "Wrigley Field: The Unauthorized Biography", the site for the inaugural 1933 game was decided by coin toss.
So instead of being the host for the first All-Star Game, Wrigley was the second-to-last ballpark to host an All-Star Game; only Ebbets Field in Brooklyn had not hosted one by 1947. Remember that two MLB parks were shared in 1947: Sportsman's Park in St. Louis (Browns and Cardinals) and Shibe Park in Philadelphia (Athletics and Phillies). Both of those had hosted ASG before 1947, although the Browns would not be the official host team until 1948 and the Phillies, not until 1952.
It's with that context that a sellout throng jammed Wrigley Field to see what was then the only midseason All-Star Game among the major sports. Irving Vaughn's recap in the Tribune doesn't waste even a single paragraph before noting the reason the game was begun in the first place:
The American league's dominance of the National in All-Star competition reached out again yesterday like an evil hand and sent the parent major's ensemble to defeat, 2 to 1, before a Wrigley field gathering of 41,123 who paid $105,314.90 into the players' pension fund.
Trotting out the inflation calculator again, we learn that $105,314.90 in 1947 is equivalent to about $1.1 million today, about enough to buy a utility infielder for a year in 2014.
Ward was still Tribune sports editor in 1947 (he held the position from 1930 until his death in 1955), and was also the mainstay behind the "In The Wake Of The News" column, which still runs in the paper. His column from the day after the game was essentially a series of notes on the affair. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:
- "This was the first time since the original contest at Comiskey park that the fans were in command and their picks turned in the best played game of the series. Only once before -- at Boston in 1936 -- was an All-Star game decided by one run."
- "It was fitting that the most expertly played game of the All-Star series took place in baseball's most beautiful park."
- "It was the first look for most of the American league players at the famous white shirt bleachers the National leaguers talk about."
- "The unluckiest gents in the vicinity of Wrigley field were two ticket scalpers who approached a couple of fans outside the gates who they mistook for visitors from Brush Creek, Ia... They offered to sell two box seats at $25 each... The prospective customers were detectives, who promptly rushed them to a neighboring clink."
It should be noted that face value on box seats for the 1947 All-Star Game was $4, with grandstand going for $3. The inflation calculator pegs $25 in 1947 dollars as about $260 today.
Here are all the pages from the 1947 All-Star Game program (click to embiggen):