While the "Century of Progress" World's Fair was in full swing, anevent occurred on this day that changed baseball history: the first All-Star game. A few months earlier, Chicago Mayor Edward J. Kelly had gone to Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Tribune, with an idea. He wanted to arrange a sports event as an adjunct to the fair. "`We've got the man right here,' McCormick said.
Ten minutes later, sports editor Arch Ward was in McCormick's office," as Ward's biographer, Tom Littlewood, recounted the meeting.
Ward knew what he wanted: a matchup of the best players in the American and National Leagues. In April, he went to the Michigan Avenue headquarters of American League President Will Harridge. The office of baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis was four blocks closer. Ward walked the extra half-mile. Landis was an autocrat, and Ward was wise enough to realize that if it was not Landis' idea, more than likely it would die aborning. Harridge had a softer personality and would give the editor a better reception.
The Tribune would underwrite the game against any loss, Ward told Harridge, and its sports department would tabulate the votes from fans to select the starting teams.
Harridge agreed to place it on the agenda of the next AL owners' meeting, and all eight owners supported the idea.
Ward immediately began cultivating the NL owners, but he had to pressure three holdouts--the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and Boston Braves. According to Littlewood, Ward told the Boston team's owner, the last holdout, "We're going to announce this game the day after tomorrow, and either we're going to say there is a game or that we almost had one because of you. Can you and the National League stand that kind of publicity?"
The game, played at Comiskey Park in ideal weather, brought out a capacity crowd of 47,595 fans to see such players as Lou Gehrig, Gabby Hartnett, Al Simmons and Jimmy Foxx. Appropriately, Babe Ruth, baseball's greatest all-around player, was the star in a 4-2 American League victory.
Wild Bill Hallahan, pitching for the National League, walked Charlie Gehringer in the third inning. Ruth was the next batter, and, with a characteristic swing, stroked a line drive into the right-field seats, the first home run in All-Star history. Arch Ward's game has been an annual fixture ever since.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times