I’m off to St. Louis Tuesday for baseball’s 80th All-Star Game. As I was doing my homework, it became clear this was research I need to share.
* This will be the fifth All-Star Game in St. Louis. The National League beat the American League in 1940, 4-0, with the Boston Braves’ Max West hitting a three-run homer. In 1948, the AL beat the NL, 5-2, despite a long one from Stan Musial in the ballpark he called home. The AL beat the NL in 1958, 6-5, with each team scoring three runs in its half of the ninth inning. (This was the year Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot box and elected seven Reds to the game. Commissioner Ford Frick interceded and sat two of them, and fan voting didn’t resume until 1970.) In 1966, brand new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis hosted the game and the NL won a 10-inning pitchers’ duel, 2-1. Temperatures reached 105 degrees before the Dodgers’ Maury Wills delivered the game-winning hit.
* Barack Obama will become the fourth sitting U.S. president to throw out the first pitch at an All-Star Game. John Kennedy did so in 1962 in Washington, Richard Nixon in 1970 (Cincinnati) and Gerald Ford in 1976 (Philadelphia). Begs the question: where has the First Fan been for 33 years?
* The National League has not won since 1996 and the 12-year drought is the longest suffered by either league since the game was first played in 1933. (The 2002 contest, it should be remembered, ended in a tie when the teams ran out of pitchers.) The NL won 19 of 20 games between 1963 and 1982 and holds an overall edge, 40-37-2. (Two games were played each season from 1959 to 1962.) Over the 79 games, the AL has outscored the NL, 335 to 333.
* The All-Star rosters have never been bigger: 33 players per team. The eight starting position players are elected by fans, eight more position players and eight pitchers are selected by players themselves, then eight players (five of them pitchers) are chosen by the managers. One final All-Star is selected by fans after the 32-player team is announced.
* The 16 starting position players this year include six players who earned Rookie of the Year honors, but only two former MVPs: the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki.
* The National League’s pitching staff has a distinctly Memphis flavor. San Francisco’s Matt Cain starred at Houston High in Germantown. (Injured in his last start, though, Cain will be unable to pitch Tuesday night.) Arizona’s Dan Haren led the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts as a Redbird in 2004. And the Cardinals’ Ryan Franklin — making his All-Star debut at age 36 — was part of two no-hitters for the 1997 Memphis Chicks. (Franklin combined with two other pitchers in one game, then hurled a seven-inning no-no a week later.)
* Chase Utley, starting at second base for the National League for the fourth straight year, played in the 2003 Triple-A All-Star Game at AutoZone Park.
* Partly because of the two-games-per-season era, the record for games played as an All-Star will likely never be broken. The record holders — each with 24 games — are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial. Mays has the most hits (23) and Musial the most home runs (6).
* The last Cardinal to homer in the Midsummer Classic was Reggie Smith in 1974. Only one other franchise has gone as long without seeing an All-Star homer as St. Louis. No Milwaukee Brewer has ever homered in the All-Star Game.
* This will be the first All-Star Game since 1995 not to feature either Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez. Somehow seems refreshing, particularly with 27 first-time All-Stars.
* Only two players have been named All-Star MVP after playing for the losing team: Brooks Robinson (1966, in St. Louis) and Carl Yastrzemski (1970).
* In 1942 and 1943, a pair of brothers — pitcher Mort Cooper and catcher Walker Cooper, both of the St. Louis Cardinals — were the NL’s starting battery.
* There has been only one grand slam hit in an All-Star Game. California’s Fred Lynn did so for the AL in 1983.
* The last All-Star MVP to reach the World Series the same year was the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in 2000.