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The Major League Baseball All-Star Game

Baseball

At approximately the mid-way point of the MLB season is the All-Star break. During this time, there are no regular-season games played – only the All-Star Game and the peripheral festivities such as the Home Run Derby. The game is typically scheduled on the second or third Tuesday in July, with the break period lasting from one day prior to the All-Star Game until two days after its completion.

Also called the Midsummer Classic, the MLB All-Star Game has been played eighty-eight times. The game is contested between American League and National League All-Stars, with each side consisting of thirty-four players.

Remarkably, the lifetime record between the AL and NL All-Stars is currently tied, with each league having won forty-three games and two ties. The game, which was established in 1933, has showcased baseball’s top talents for generations, creating many unforgettable moments and classic contests.

Throughout the game’s history, there have been numerous changes to the rules, as well as what is at stake. The 2002 contest ended in a disastrous tie when, after eleven innings, both teams had used all of their relief pitchers and ran out of substitutes.

As a response, in 2003, the Midsummer Classic was made significantly more important, as it was decided that the winning league would receive home-field advantage in the World Series. This lasted until 2016, at which point the World Series home field began being granted for the club with the best regular-season record instead.

Note:

While the game was traditionally played under the rules of the league stadium in which it was held, in 2010, the league enacted the designated hitter rule, taking pitchers out of the lineup, regardless of location. This opens up an additional spot in the batting order for players that would otherwise not start.

At the end of all the festivities, the All-Star MVP award is given to the most outstanding player to participate in the game. Despite the game not carrying the importance that it once had, accolades such as All-Star MVPs do play a role in a player’s overall legacy and are considered by Hall of Fame voters.

Betting on the MLB All-Star Game

The result of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game may not carry the same weight it did in previous years when the winning team’s league was given home field advantage in the World Series, but it still provides an opportunity for gamblers. Sportsbooks around the globe offer odds not only on the winner but on a range of prop bets as well. You will find bets on the first team to score, the total number of home runs, and the possibility of extra innings, among many other fun wagers.

While the exhibition may not inspire the same urgency that led Pete Rose to barrel over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star showdown, the athletes still look to put on a show and earn bragging rights over their peers. For this reason, the MLB All-Star game is still worth betting.

Take some time to examine the roster selections and keep in mind that both teams will be using a designated hitter and that pitchers only go for one or two innings. Also, every team in the league must have representation in the game, meaning some stars on deep teams will be snubbed.  Just because the top clubs may be in the same league, it doesn’t mean that their All-Star squad will necessarily include all the best players. So, keep depth in mind when placing your bets.

How All-Stars Teams Are Chosen

Managers and Coaches

The selection process for the All-Star teams’ managers is quite simple and has been in place since 1934. The managers from the previous year’s World Series participants are automatically given the role. They are then given the autonomy to hand-select the rest of their coaching staff.

What’s interesting is that this honor is awarded to the pennant-winning managers specifically, not the franchises that they managed. So, if a manager wins the pennant but then moves clubs in the offseason, they are still eligible to lead the team. One example of this occurring took place in 2003 when Dusty Baker left San Francisco to join the Chicago Cubs immediately after winning the National League championship with the Giants.

This rule also extends to managers who retire during the offseason between their pennant and the All-Star game.

Tony La Russa retired from coaching after leading the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory. Despite his retirement, the legendary coach returned to manage the 2012 National League All-Stars.

If the pennant-winning manager is not available, the honor falls to the second-place team’s skipper. The 1964 All-Star game was a complete mess with regards to selecting a manager for both sides. The two league champions were led by Johnny Keane with the Cardinals and Yogi Berra from the Yankees.

That offseason, both men left their teams and took jobs with clubs in the opposing league. Keane replaced Berra on the Yankees, while Yogi moved to the Mets to become a player-coach.

Keane’s National League spot was to be given to the NL runners-up, only the Phillies and the Reds were both tied for second place. Because Cincinnati’s Fred Hutchinson died in the offseason, the honor was given to Gene Mauch from Philadelphia. In the American League, the Chicago White Sox finished second, so the job was awarded to their manager Al Lopez.

Player Selection

The process for selecting players is less straightforward. It is broken up into several steps, including three different votes and a manager’s selections. Each MLB franchise must have at least one representative on the All-Star team’s roster.

  1. The Fan Vote – Baseball fans are given the power to vote for the starting-position players. Ballots are distributed at games earlier in the season, and since 2015 are available online as well. The fans vote for eight National League starters and nine American Leaguers. The reason for this discrepancy is because AL’s designated hitter is selected by the masses, while the NL’s is chosen by the manager.
  2. The Players’ Vote – The next sixteen spots on each roster are decided by a vote held for current players, coaches, and managers. The professionals select five starting pitchers, three relievers, and one back-up player for each position, per league. If a top vote-getter has already been chosen by the fans, the second leading vote-getter is given the spot.
  3. Manager’s Selections – In this round of roster selection, both League’s All-Star teams’ managers fill in the rest of their squad. Traditionally, they work with other managerial staffs throughout the league as well as the commissioner’s office to ensure they make the right choices. Because the National League’s manager picks his team’s designated hitter, the NL gains nine athletes during this phase, while the AL gets eight.
  4. Final Vote – After the first three processes, both rosters consist of thirty-three players. At this point, the rosters are released to the public. Next, both managers compile a list of five players that they send to the commissioner’s office. The fan vote is then opened once more, and one of the five athletes is selected for the final spot on the roster.
  5. Replacement Players – The rosters may be finalized, but that doesn’t mean everyone voted in will take part in the game. Pitchers who had a recent start and players that are either injured or unwilling to participate must then be replaced. The replacement players are chosen in a cooperative effort between the manager and commissioner’s office.

The History of the All-Star Game

1933

The inaugural MLB All-Star game was intended to be a one-off event. With the World’s Fair taking place in Chicago, the game was scheduled at Comiskey Park as part of the overall festivities. In the third inning of the exhibition, history was made when Babe Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star game history. The two-run dinger was the difference-maker in the American League’s eventual 4-2 victory. The event was so successful that it was made an annual affair.

1933-34

The earliest All-Star squads were selected by the fans and managers. The first nine starters for each league were chosen by the fan’s vote, and the managers filled in the remaining 9 to 11 spots on each roster themselves.

1935-46

For a ten-year stretch (there was no game in 1945), the fans were cut entirely out of the selection process. During this period, the entire team was decided by the two managers.

1941

The story of the 1941 Midsummer Classic is all about Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. The two Hall of Famers were at the peak of their powers, with DiMaggio forty-eight games into his eventual legendary hitting streak and Williams batting .405 at the break. Down one run in the ninth inning, Ted Williams came up to bat for the American League. He blasted a three-run homer immediately, ending the contest with a score of 7-5.

1947-57

The fans regained their voting privileges in 1947. Once again, they were given the task of selecting both teams’ eight starting-position players. However, only ten years later, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box, resulting in Reds players winning every starting position but first base.

The commissioner was forced to step in and remove two of their players from the roster before subsequently taking away the fan vote once again. The responsibility of choosing the starters once again fell on the managers. It would be twelve years before the fans regained their voice.

1949

Two years after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB’s color barrier, the first African-American All-Star representatives were chosen. Three black players from the National League were selected; they were Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Jackie Robinson. The American League All-Star team picked Larry Doby, who was also the AL’s first black player.

1955

The first half of the 1955 Midsummer Classic was a blowout. At the start of the seventh inning, the National League was trailing 5-0. However, the star-studded squad fought back, getting two runs in the seventh before tying it up at five apiece after sending home three more in the eighth.

From there, the contest dragged on into extra innings, with neither team able to pull away. Finally, in the twelfth inning, Stan Musial, who was having a bad game up to that point, smashed the game-winning homer. It’s considered one of the all-time most exciting All-Star games.

1959-62

For a four-year stretch, two All-Star games were played per year. The two leagues would compete in a doubleheader, with the proceeds from the second game going directly to the players’ pension fund. However, between the oversaturation from the double games and the lack of fan involvement in the selection process, public interest in the Midsummer Classic began to wane.

1970

By 1970, the fan vote was once again reinstated. But the bigger news was made during the actual game by Pete Rose. The game was tied at four in the twelfth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, the National League’s Jim Hickman came to the plate. He laced a single to center field, prompting Pete Rose to attempt to score from second base.

The throw beat Rose to the plate, but he was playing for keeps. Pete lowered his shoulder and smashed the AL catcher Ray Fosse when they met at home plate. Fosse suffered a dislocated shoulder and dropped the ball, allowing Pete Rose to score the game-winning run on the history-making but controversial final play.

1971

Reggie Jackson made his presence felt in the 1971 All-Star game when he entered the game as a pinch hitter in the third inning. Facing off against Dock Ellis, Jackson belted the ball so hard it was unmistakably a home run the second it came off the bat.

The ball didn’t stop traveling until it crashed into a transformer on Tiger Stadium’s roof. The homer was estimated to have flown 520 feet, making it the longest home run in All-Star game history to this day.

1978

Rod Carew was facing a familiar foe in the 1978 All-Star Game. San Fransisco’s Vida Blue had pitched to the Twin’s star hitter forty-five times, giving up a .355 batting average in the process. In the first inning, Carew blasted a triple before being driven home by George Brett.

For Blue, the third inning must have felt like deja vu, because in their second showdown, Rod tripled again. Rod Carew is the only player in the game’s history to hit two triples.

1983

The fiftieth anniversary of the Midsummer Classic was played in 1983. The National League was riding an eleven-game winning streak and had taken nineteen of the last twenty contests against the American League. After such a run of dominance, the NL All-Stars were heavy favorites expected to continue the trend.

The AL team let their rivals have it in the third inning. Nursing a 2-1 lead, the American League All-Stars got hot in the third, erupting for seven runs. Four of them came from Fred Lynn, who hit the first grand slam in the history of the exhibition. After eleven consecutive defeats, the American League finally turned things around, routing the NL squad 13-3.

1999

The 1999 MLB All-Star Game featured Pedro Martinez at the absolute peak of his powers. The game was played in the Red Sox ace’s home stadium, Fenway Park. Coming into the midseason break, Pedro already had fifteen wins along with 184 strikeouts in only 132.2 innings pitched.

Starting for the American League, Martinez flaunted the stuff that had earned him those stats. He started the game by striking out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa in succession. He picked up where he left off in the second, striking out Mark McGwire as well.

Next, Matt Williams reached first on an error. But it wouldn’t matter because Pedro immediately struck out Jeff Bagwell in the five-spot before Ivan Rodriguez lasered the ball into second base, catching Williams in a double play.

His five strikeouts over two innings are tied for the All-Star Game record. Pedro Martinez would be named the 1999 All-Star Game MVP while also becoming the first pitcher to win the Midsummer Classic in his home park.

2001

The 2001 All-Star Game was Cal Ripken Jr.’s nineteenth and final appearance in the midseason exhibition. As a gesture of respect, Alex Rodriguez insisted that Ripken take over at shortstop, his natural position, and traded him for third base.

The crowd, already delighted by the gesture, were still in for another treat. In his very first at-bat, the legendary Ironman turned on the first pitch Chan Ho Park delivered, belting a solo homer in the third inning. Ripken would win his second All-Star MVP after the American League went on to win the contest 4-1.

2002

While the 2002 Midsummer Classic certainly had its moments, it will also be remembered for its disappointing ending. In the first inning, Barry Bonds smashed a sure home run towards the outfield wall. The Minnesota Twins’ Torii Hunter tracked the ball, timed his leap with precision, and robbed Bonds of the home run in one of the most spectacular defensive plays in the history of the sport. Between innings, Barry playfully charged at Hunter, picking him up over his shoulder.

The game was excellently played. After trailing for most of the early innings, the American League put up four runs in the seventh inning, giving them a one-run lead. They’d extend it to two in the top of the eighth, before the National League answered with two of their own, tying it up at seven runs apiece. The contest continued on to extra innings with neither team able to get back on the board.

In the eleventh inning, the game was still tied, but both teams had run through all of their relief pitchers. With no substitutes left to put in the game, it was ultimately decided to end the game in a draw. The fans were livid and showered the field with boos and trash. The commissioner vowed never to allow this to happen again and decided that the game would determine World Series home-field advantage going forward.

2003-16

The next fourteen All-Star games were played with much higher stakes. The winning league would earn home-field advantage for their World Series representative. The rule would remain in place until 2016 when it was disbanded for being unfair to the pennant-winning clubs.

Since each All-Star squad must include players from every franchise, a significant factor in the championship series was being decided by participants with no skin in the game. After 2016, home-field advantage was granted to the league champion with the best win-loss record in the regular season.

2007

In his prime, nobody could fly around the bases quite like Ichiro Suzuki. The combination of his baserunning and AT&T Park’s unusual dimensions led to another first in All-Star Game history. The game was still scoreless at the start of the fifth inning. With one man on base, Ichiro came to the plate.

Chris Young delivered the first pitch, which Suzuki immediately slapped into deep right-field. The ball took an odd bounce off a banner and rolled towards the corner, eluding Ken Griffey Jr. in the process. While he chased and gathered the ball, Ichiro was already headed towards home.

Griffey fired the ball to home plate, but it was too late. Ichiro Suzuki had already scored the first inside-the-park home run in Midsummer Classic history.

2010

The National League All-Star team picked the worst possible period in MLB history to go on a losing streak. During the years that the All-Star Game determined home-field advantage in the World Series, the American League dominated their counterparts for thirteen consecutive years.

The 2010 exhibition had that familiar feeling headed into the seventh inning. The American League All-Stars were winning by one, and the NL had yet to score. Their fortunes would change that very inning when the National League loaded the bases against the AL’s Phil Hughes and Matt Thornton.

Brian McCann was the next NL player to bat. The Atlanta Braves catcher promptly cleared the bases with a double to right field, giving the National League a 3-1 lead. They’d hold on through the ninth inning, finally ending a decade-plus of losing the Midsummer Classic.

The Last 40 All-Star Games:

YearWinnerWinning ScoreLoserLosing ScoreBall Park (League)MVP
2017AL2NL1(10)Marlins Park (NL)R.Cano
2016AL4NL2Petco Park (NL)E.Hosmer
2015AL6NL3Great American Ball Park (NL)M.Trout
2014AL5NL3Target Field (AL)M.Trout
2013AL3NL0Citi Field (NL)M.Rivera
2012NL8AL0Kauffman Stadium (AL)M.Cabrera
2011NL5AL1Chase Field (NL)P.Fielder
2010NL3AL1Angel Stadium of Anaheim (AL)B.McCann
2009AL4NL3Busch Stadium III (NL)C.Crawford
2008AL4NL3(15)Yankee Stadium II (AL)J.Drew
2007AL5NL4AT&T Park (NL)I.Suzuki
2006AL3NL2PNC Park (NL)M.Young
2005AL7NL5Comerica Park (AL)M.Tejada
2004AL9NL4Minute Maid Park (NL)A.Soriano
2003AL7NL6U.S. Cellular Field (AL)G.Anderson
2002AL7NL7-T(11)Miller Park (NL)No MVP – Game ended in a Tie
2001AL4NL1Safeco Field (AL)C.Ripken
2000AL6NL3Turner Field (NL)D.Jeter
1999AL4NL1Fenway Park (AL)P.Martinez
1998AL13NL8Coors Field (NL)R.Alomar
1997AL3NL1Jacobs Field (AL)S.Alomar
1996NL6AL0Veterans Stadium (NL)M.Piazza
1995NL3AL2The Ballpark in Arlington (AL)J.Conine
1994NL8AL7(10)Three Rivers Stadium (NL)F.McGriff
1993AL9NL3Oriole Park at Camden Yards (AL)K.Puckett
1992AL13NL6Jack Murphy Stadium (NL)K.Griffey
1991AL4NL2SkyDome (AL)C.Ripken
1990AL2NL0Wrigley Field (NL)J.Franco
1989AL5NL3Anaheim Stadium (AL)B.Jackson
1988AL2NL1Riverfront Stadium (NL)T.Steinbach
1987NL2AL0(13)Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (AL)T.Raines
1986AL3NL2Astrodome (NL)R.Clemens
1985NL6AL1Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (AL)L.Hoyt
1984NL3AL1Candlestick Park (NL)G.Carter
1983AL13NL3Comiskey Park I (AL)F.Lynn
1982NL4AL1Stade Olympique (NL)D.Concepcion
1981NL5AL4Cleveland Stadium (AL)G.Carter
1980NL4AL2Dodger Stadium (NL)K.Griffey
1979NL7AL6Kingdome (AL)D.Parker
1978NL7AL3San Diego Stadium (NL)S.Garvey

All-Star Game Records and Leaders

Throughout the history of the Midsummer Classic, players have turned in a plethora of heroic single-game performances. But what’s really special are the incredible resumes that perennial All-Stars have been able to compile over years of participation in the game. The following table includes many of the most significant All-Star Game records and the players who own them.

RecordRecord Holder(s)
Most All-Star Game AppearancesHank Aaron (25); Willie Mays (24); Stan Musial (24)
Most All-Star Game MVPs(2) Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Jr., and
Mike Trout
Most All-Star Game RBIs (single game)(5) Al Rosen, Ted Williams
Most All-Star Game Hits (single game)(4) Joe Medwick, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski
Most All-Star Game Home Runs (single game)(2) Gary Carter, Willie McCovey, Al Rosen, Arky Vaughan, Ted
Williams
Most All-Star Game Total Bases (single game)(10) Ted Williams
Most All-Star Game Innings Pitched (single game)(6) Lefty Gomez
Most All-Star Game Strikeouts (single game)(6) Carl Hubbell, Larry Jansen, Ferguson Jenkins, Johnny Vander Meer
Most All-Star Game At-bats (career)(75) Willie Mays
Best All-Star Game Batting Average (career)(.500) Charlie Gehringer
Most All-Star Game RBIs (career)(12) Ted Williams
Most All-Star Game Hits (career)(23) Willie Mays
Most All-Star Game Home Runs (career)(6) Stan Musial
Most All-Star Game Total Bases (career)(40) Willie Mays, Stan Musial
Most All-Star Game Wins – Pitching (career)(3) Lefty Gomez
Most All-Star Game Saves – Pitching (career)(4) Mariano Rivera
Most All-Star Games Started – Pitching (career)(5) Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez, Robin Roberts

The Wrap-Up

The Major League Baseball All-Star game is where the best and brightest players in the world showcase their immense talent amongst their peers. Played between the American and National Leagues, each team has had long periods of winning and losing. Incredibly, they’ve ended up with their records perfectly tied. Both leagues have won forty-three of the eighty-eight contests, with two ties.

Over the course of the eighty-eight games, the selection process, rules, and stakes have all changed quite frequently.

For Example

The fans have lost and regained their right to vote for the positional starters several times.

After a tie in 2002 outraged spectators, the Midsummer Classic was given more weight by tying the result to home-field advantage in the World Series. This too was eventually scrapped after fourteen years.

Many classic moments have taken place in the All-Star Game. Pete Rose crashing into home plate to score the winning run remains one of the most memorable plays of his iconic career. Torii Hunter’s home run-stealing catch against Barry Bonds may very well be the most exceptional defensive play in the sport’s history.

Joe DiMaggio’s All-Star showdown with Ted Williams produced some of the most spectacular displays of hitting ever witnessed. There are literally dozens of similar examples, but with each season bringing a new Midsummer meeting, what matters most is the historic moments that will be created next.