All Wet All-Stars
July 31, 1961: Baseball’s All-Star Game ends in a tie. The game was played at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The game was played in front of 31,851 fans with Jim Bunning the starting pitcher for the American League and Bob Purkey the starting pitcher for the National League. The American League team scored on a home run hit by Rocky Colavito in the first inning and remained ahead until the score was tied in the sixth inning as Eddie Mathews crossed home plate. The game was called after nine innings because of a downpour. This was the first, and until 2002, the only All-Star Game to end in a tie.
Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is also called the “Midsummer Classic” and is played between players from the National League and the American League. The players are selected by a combination of fans, players, coaches, and managers. The game is usually played in mid-July, the halfway point of the baseball season. The game is usually played on a Tuesday, and both the Monday and Wednesday surrounding the big game are left unscheduled. The Monday and Wednesday surrounding the All-Star Game are the only two days of the year without a regular or pre-season game scheduled for any major professional sports leagues in the US.
The venue for the game changes with stadiums from the National and American Leagues alternating years. This system has twice been broken, first in 1951 when the Detroit Tigers hosted the game in conjunction with the city’s 250th birthday and again in 2007 when the San Francisco Giants were hosts. Since 2008, the American League hosts on the even numbered years with the National League having the odd numbered years. The games are not scheduled out past 2012. On July 10, 2012 the game was held at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2013, the game is scheduled to be played on July 16 at Citi Field in New York City, home of the Mets.
There are no special uniforms for the game with players wearing their normal team uniforms instead. Sometimes there is a uniform error, usually when a batter dons a different team’s batting helmet. After 82 All-Star Games played (two in 1959-1962) with the National League winning 42, the American League winning 38, and 2 ties. In 1961, the American League had Yogi Bera, Mickey Mangle, and Roger Maris as some of their biggest-name players. The National League had Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays playing. The American League placed three pictures on the mound while the National League used four. There was no Most Valuable Player named that year, as the custom started in 1962.
No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined. – Paul Gallico
A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. – Earl Wilson
I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it. – Rogers Hornsby
Say this much for big league baseball – it is beyond question the greatest conversation piece ever invented in America. – Bruce Catton
Also on this day: