“No Way…I Called Him First!”
There Is Just Something Special About the All-Star Game
By LTC MEARS Auth, LLC
There has always been something very special to me about the All Star Game since the day I played in my first one. I’m sure your memories of this Mid-Summer or All Summer Classic are still vivid. As kids, if you think about it, this is what we played. I am referring to a time not that long ago (I am only 42) when this was how we played baseball, long before the era of select and travel team ball. We may have played for a school or a local business, but by and large we played the game as kids, peers, dare I say…All Stars. The ritual was simple, we agreed upon a field (and there where more of them then), a time, and kids showed up, or they didn’t. The number of players always left room for some type of game. You could “close” a field if you did not have enough players making a hit to it an automatic out. If it was too wet, this still left you with waffle ball or tennis ball.
The location, number of players, or type of ball could always change, but it was an All Star Game. Even before sides where chosen, the most important ground rules where established along primal lines, much like which lion gets first crack at the antelope, the “Calling” of players. “I’m Rose”… “I’m Aaron…” “I’m Clemente”…I’m Mays”….No Way…I’m All Time Mays”. In some cases, the older more established kids could reserve “All Time Status” much in the same way many major league players have retained “All Time Selection” even when their best playing days where behind them at the exclusion of younger players.
Sure winning the game was important, but it was about you and your player…your “inner All Star” playing ball…This was what Fantasy Baseball was all about. Of course we where all keenly aware of the real All Star Game. You went to the park and scrounged extra ballots if you could. No one seemed to know or care about what a “hanging chad” was, you just punched out your guys. The selection of these All Stars has changed over the years.
For the first two games in 1933-34, the players where “hand picked.” Between 1935 and 1946, the manager of each All-Star squad selected the entire team. Fans received the right to vote on the eight starters (excluding the pitcher) starting in 1947. In 1957, the Commissioner decided to overrule the knowledgeable fans of my home town as seven Reds were elected to the starting lineup, Stan Musial being the only exception. From 1958 through 1969, players, coaches, and managers made the choices. In 1970 the All Star Game “got right” again as fans were given back the vote and the game was played in the newly opened Riverfront Stadium. Just for the record, I think Fosse came too far up the line and was blocking the plate…Pete had to score, especially in front of the home town crowd.
This game has left us with many wonderful moments and a wonderful number of artifacts to add to our collections. There are some who’s focus is on the All Star Game while others look to acquire those relating to favorite players. In any event, since my editor says I should always try to focus on collectables versus my ramblings and story telling, let me try to keep the boss happy.
In general, All Star Game collectables can be broken down into roughly seven categories. An eighth could be added if you wished to include those items sold or given out at the game. I have opted to omit this category as they are too varied for me to cover or even have any real knowledge of.
All Star Game Bats. By All Star Game Bats, I am referring to those bats that where presented to or ordered by a player for use in the game. It appears that the earliest specially marked bats for All Star Game use where manufactured by Hillerich and Bradsby in 1949. These bats feature the words ALL STAR GAME above the players name and below it appear the city and year of the contest. For the years of 1959 through 1961, there where two All Star Games (the proceeds of the second game going to the layers pension fund) and as such, both cities are recorded. A detailed account of the various labeling and dating changes can be found on page 57 of Bats: Professional Hillerich and Bradsby and Adirondack: 1950-1994 by Malta, Fox, Riddell, and Specht. For Adirondack bats, this same topic is covered on page 89. In any event, most players are said to have received two bats for the games. Some of these show great use, other little or none. Regardless of use, the are considered very collectable. I would be interested to hear from All Star Bat collectors, but I always thought it would be great to focus on a collection of bats that featured those instances when the players team matched the city that hosted the contest. This might be tough as it would require that the player be selected to the game in the year it was hosted by the city. In some cases, this might not be possible as he may not have been playing yet or had since retired when the game rolled around to his ball yard. Consider these as they are players who fit both game selection and hosting city:
Pee Wee Reese Brooklyn 1949
Jackie Robinson Brooklyn 1949
Ted Kluszewski Cincinnati 1953
Hank Aaron Milwaukee 1955
Stan Musial St. Louis 1957
Ernie Banks Chicago 1962
Harmon Killibrew Minneapolis 1965
Frank Howard Washington 1969
Pete Rose Cincinnati 1970
Al Kaline Detroit 1971
Hank Aaron Atlanta 1972
Thurman Munson New York 1977
There are clearly others as “home town” voting can always help to get a player in…see what it did for Musial in 1957…he was almost good enough to have been a Red.
All Star Game Programs: These began as simple score cards back in 1933 and evolved into rather detailed editions over the years. The good thing is that if you are looking to begin collecting, or even fill in holes in your collection, they can still be found in the market thanks to places like E-Bay. As I sit typing this article, a 1933 program/score card can be found on E-Bay with an opening bid of $899 and a BUY IT NOW price of $1250. In a number of cases you will find the older score cards either scored, autographed or both. Krause Publications Standard Catalog of Sports Memorabilia (2005) does offer a price guide section for these on pages 309-310. I am not sure how accurate this is as they have the same prices listed in the Krause Publication Complete Guide to Baseball Memorabilia (1996). Like most programs, the covers make them very nice display items to augment a team or player collection.
All Star Game Tickets/Stubs: I would say that these are probably some of the tougher items to find, especially from the older games. Even though they were produced in far greater numbers than most of the other All Star Game associated items, the potential or desire for retention was clearly much lower. In many cases, they can be found with the programs from those games. The 1945 All Star was not played do to War Time travel restrictions, so I don’t know if there are Phantom tickets or proofs that are out there. If you have access to the MASTRO Auction Catalog from August of 2004, you may want to go back and look through pages 62-75 for the Mark Lewis Full Ticket Collection. Here you will find examples from the games of 1935, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1959 (Pittsburgh), 1959 (Los Angeles), 1960 (Kansas City), 1960 (New York), 1961 (Boston), 1962 (Washington), 1962 (Chicago), 1963, 1964,1965, 1966,1967,1968, and 1969.
All Star Game Press Pins: These are probably the most common item that folks collect either in conjunction with World Series Press Pins or as stand alone items. In some cases, like their World Series counter parts, they can sometimes be found having been fashioned into larger forms of jewelry such as bracelets, pendants, or necklaces. Dave Bushing did a great piece on World Series and All Star Games back in January and it can be found in the Archived News Section if you have not read (don’t you just love not having to dig though old issues, or if you have subscribed after January, know that you still have access to it).
All Star Game Presentation Items: This category of item includes those things given to players to commemorate their selection for the contest. They have varied over the years in terms of the item, but things they appear to have in common is that they are marked or inscribed with the players name and the date as well as the city hosting the event. As far as when they appear in the hobby, they can surface one at a time or when a players estate goes to the auction block. Clearly this is by no means complete, but I have gone back through many of the old auction catalogs I have going back to the late 1980 to find some examples. I have no way of knowing if these are the only items the player may have received for that year and have found that there appears to be some variation at times between leagues with respect to what players received: (AL= American League NL = National League when the player could be identified. I have omitted items that can be identified as being given to the player by his own club or some other organization)
1933 NL Player Game Uniforms
1936 AL 10K Gold Pin/Tie Clip
1937 AL 14K Gold Pen Knife
c 1937-38 NL 14 K Gold Tie Bar/Pin
1938 AL 10K Gold Charm Necklace
1938 AL 10K Gold Charm Tie Pin
1938 NL 14K Gold Elgin Wristwatch
1939 NL 14K Gold Elgin Pocket Watch
1940 NL Black Signature Hillerich & Bradsby Bat (similar to World Series Bats)
1940 AL Black Signature Hillerich & Bradsby Bat (similar to World Series Bats)
1941 NL Black Signature Hillerich & Bradsby Bat (similar to World Series Bats)
1941 AL Black Signature Hillerich & Bradsby Bat (similar to World Series Bats)
1947 AL 14 K Gold Elgin Wristwatch
1947 NL 14 K Gold Elgin Wristwatch
1949 AL Sterling Silver Trinket Presentation Box
1949 NL NL 14K Gold Elgin Wristwatch
1950 NL Player Plaque from the Commissioners Office
1950 AL Sterling Silver Trinket Presentation Box
1951 AL Sterling Silver Trinket Presentation Box
1951 AL Sterling Sliver Teapot
1951 NL Sterling Silver Cigarette Case
1953 AL Sterling Sliver Ice Bucket
1953 AL Sterling Silver Cigarette Case
1955 AL Sterling Sliver Bowl With Lid
1957 AL Silver Punch Bowl and Goblets
1960 NL Silver Plated Punch Bowl
1962 NL Sliver Bowl/Trophy Cup
1970 AL Silver Plated Chafing Dish
1972 AL All Star Game Ring
1974 AL Mint Julep Cup Set
1975 AL All Star Game Ring
1975 NL All Star Game Ring
1976 AL All Star Game Ring
1977 AL Blown Glass Bowl on Mahogany Base
1980 NL Sieko Presentational Desk Clock
1981 AL All Star Game Ring
1983 AL All Star Game Ring
1984 NL Silver Plated Goblet Set
1985 NL Waterford Crystal Decanter
1995 All Star Game Ring
1998 All Star Game Ring
All Star Game Balls. This refers to a couple of things, but by and large I am referring to those balls that would have been signed by the players while at the game. In many cases they can be found coming from player or umpire estates as well as those individuals who had some connection with the team hosting the event. A couple of things you can do on your own when considering adding one of these to your collection. While they may seem obvious, you would be surprised at how many people would rather spend money than time.
1. Check the roster for that year against the players on the ball.
2. Ensure that the ball is correct for the period. Rawlings began producing balls specific for the All Star Game (and labeled as such in 1981). Joe Phillips and Dave Bushing produced a wonderful guide to Vintage Baseballs a few years back that will show you how to date a baseball by manufacturer and league identification and I think both guys still have a few copies.
All Star Game Photographs: With respect to these, they can come in any number of forms from vintage wire photos to those that can be found in modern publications. There value is both historical as well as beneficial for the uniform collector. The thing from a research standpoint I have always appreciated about these photographs is that they are date specific and also can feature multiple players from both leagues in the same shot. In addition to print images, I would encourage collectors to look at some of the film images that have become commercially available over the years. I have mentioned Doak Ewing’s Rare Sports Films before and will give him another plug now. His web site is at www.raresportsfilms.com . To date I have purchased a few of these and have found them to be very helpful in supporting my own research efforts.
In working on this article, I think it would be a wonderful project to produce a reference for the All Star Games of the 20th Century. The work could include for each game:
Means of Player Selection
Games Most Valuable Player
Picture of a Game Program
Picture of a Game Ticket
Example of an All Star Bat
Listing/Pictures of Player Presentation Items
Listing/Pictures of Stadium Items such as Pennants and other Souvenirs
If there are any collectors out there interested in collaborating on such a project, I would love to hear from you. Have to close as I need to make sure the VCR is set to tape the game for Mary….She called that a couple of weeks ago.
MEARS Auth, LLC
LTC MEARS Auth, LLC can be reached for comment on this article at:
LTC MEARS Auth, LLC
14218 Roland Court
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