Tomorrow night at Citi Field in New York, the American League will play the National League in the 80th annual All Star Game. Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak explains the origins of the game in Chicago, Pittsburgh’s experience hosting the All Stars and the modern character of the game.
The first major league All Star Game was played on July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago as a sort of “gimmick” to attract attention to the World’s Fair. In attendance were famous players such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and, as Dvorchak reminds listeners, “baseball was the sport, they were the rock stars of the day.”
The All Star Game has been held in Pittsburgh five times, most recently at PNC Park in 2006. The first time the game was in Pittsburgh was in 1944 as a “nod to the working class in the city.” Players in both leagues have always taken the game seriously because of the pride they had in their city, their team and their league. “Teams played to win,” Dvorchak explains, “they didn’t need incentives to play there.”
Dvorchak refers to the recent exaggerated character of the All Stars that include a red carpet entry and mass amounts of money surrounding the game. After the 2001 All Star Game where the game ended with a tie, the leagues decided that a win would guarantee home team advantage in the World Series. This year’s players include Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Grilli and Jeff Locke.