Major League Baseball began playing its Midsummer Classic, the All-Star Game, back in 1933. Babe Ruth hit a home run in the first game. Uploaded to Flickr by B.Smile.
Baseball has been playing an All-Star game since 1933, and though there have been some bumps along the way, for the most part it’s been done with integrity. The other major sports followed baseball’s lead, but their all-star games are all a big joke. This is one of the few ways that baseball still gets it right.
Uploaded to Flickr by guyonthecomputer.
Fans vote in the starting lineups for both the American and National League teams, players pick most of the reserves, and managers fill out the roster. This process changes from time to time, but giving the paying public the ability to choose the starters earns the game popular support, even if the best players are sometimes left off in favor of the most popular ones.
There have been some wonderful moments in All-Star game history. In 1934, Carl Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in a row – five future hall-of-famers. In 1955, Stan Musial hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th to give the Nationals a victory. In 1970, Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse, also in the bottom of the 12th, causing the catcher to drop the ball and the National League gained another win. And in 2001, in what everyone knew was his final All-Star game appearance, Cal Ripken homered to bring a fairy-tale conclusion to his storied career in the Midsummer Classic…
Cal Ripken breaks the record for most consecutive games played. Uploaded by itricks.com.
“It’s not whether you win or lose,” the saying goes. “It’s how you play the game.” On the other hand, it’s said, “Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.” So the ideal sportsman is one who plays the game with class and respect, and yet still wins. In other words, Cal Ripken.
In a storybook scenario, Cal got to play beside his brother while his father was the coach. But not for the Kenosha Tire Co. Tiny Treads – for the major league Baltimore Orioles. Even then, Cal was a rare commodity in baseball. He was an athlete with the agility to play shortstop and the strength to hit for power.
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Cal made an instant splash in the sport, winning the American League Rookie of the Year honor in 1982. He was named to the American League All-Star team 19 times. He was twice named the All-Star game MVP and the American League MVP. He has a World Series ring. And he was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Of course, the feat everyone associates with Cal is the streak for playing the most consecutive games. Lou Gherig’s record of 2,130 stood for 56 years and was considered unbreakable. Not only did Cal break it, but he hit a home run in the record-tying game and in the record-breaking game. It was named “Most Memorable Moment” in baseball history. He finally took a game off after playing 2,632 straight games. That record will never be broken.
His streak symbolized what kind of a man he is. Show up every day. Care about your job. Do your very best. Give back to the community. The stench of steroids has corrupted baseball in the public eye, and it’s going to take a lot of Cal Ripken-style professionalism before it can regain its lost place in America’s heart.