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Monday, July 14, 2014


Fifth Annual All-Star Game program, 1937.
Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia
Collection, 1925-1956, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History

It has been 45 years since the city of Washington, D.C. hosted Major League Baseball’s annual mid-summer classic, the All-Star Game.  With a recently built stadium to show off, Washington fans want their turn.  Unfortunately, several other cities also want the All Star Game and some of them have new ballparks too, including Cincinnati (which will host in 2015), Philadelphia, Miami and San Diego.  It might be several years before Washington hosts, but I hope that the city’s 33 years without baseball will count for something to baseball’s selection committee, possibly as early as 2017.  Washington has hosted the All-Star Game four times, twice (1937 and 1956) at Griffith Stadium and twice (1962 and 1969) at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.  The Archives Center is fortunate to have the programs from two of these games, those of 1937 and 1956.  They were donated to us by SI volunteer Eleanor Linkous.
The 1937 program features President Franklin Roosevelt on the cover, throwing out the first pitch, a ceremonial baseball tradition begun by President Taft in 1910 on that season’s Opening Day.  1937’s All-Star game was the first attended by a president.

The game’s roster on both sides contained an impressive number of future Hall of Famers.  For the American League, this included both Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig in one of the only two years their careers as Yankees overlapped.  Also in the game were Joe Cronin and Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox, and Charlie Gehringer of the Tigers.  For the visiting National League, the list was just as impressive, including starting pitcher Dizzy Dean and Ducky Medwick of the Cardinals, Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott of the Giants, and Paul Waner and Arky Vaughan from the Pirates.  Ironically, even though the home town Washington Senators had three members of its team elected to the All Star Game, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, who was managing the game for the American League, never put any of them in to play.  Instead, the game was dominated by his Yankees.  The American League won the game 8-3.
Clark C. Griffith Memorial All-Star Game program.
Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia
Collection, 1925-1956, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History. 
The 1956 program featured an image of “the Old Fox,” Clark Griffith, a former player and owner of the Senators, who had died the previous autumn.  The game was dedicated to him.  Only five years later, his son would relocate his beloved team to the Twin Cities.
Like 19 years earlier, the 1956 All-Star Game was full of future Hall of Famers.  For the American League, there were sluggers Ted Williams of the Red Sox, Al Kaline of the Tigers, and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees.  The National League fielded a team that included Stan Musial from the Cardinals, Willie Mays of the Giants and Hank Aaron of the Braves.  Pitchers in the game included the Braves’ Warren Spahn for the National League and the Yankees’ Whitey Ford for the American League.  The result was quite different from that of the game 19 years earlier, when the Yankee sluggers had dominated.  This time it was the National League dominating, with help from home runs by Mays and Musial.  The final score was 7-3. 
This year’s All-Star Game will, almost certainly, feature some future Hall of Famers.  It is fun to speculate which players on this year’s ballot will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown.

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