The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual professional baseball game sanctioned by Major League Baseball (MLB) contested between the All-Stars from the American League (AL) and National League (NL), currently selected by fans for starting fielders, by managers for pitchers, and by managers and players for reserves.
The game usually occurs on either the second or third Tuesday in July, and is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the MLB season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually found within the previous calendar week). Both of the major leagues share an All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled on the day before or two days after the All-Star Game itself. Some additional events and festivities associated with the game take place each year close to and during this break in the regular season.
No official MLB All-Star Game was held in 1945 including the official selection of players due to World War II travel restrictions. Two All-Star Games were held each season from 1959 to 1962. The most recent All-Star Game was held on July 17, 2018, at Nationals Park, home of the National League's Washington Nationals. The 2019 and 2020 All-Star Games are scheduled to be held in Cleveland and Los Angeles, respectively.
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game|
|Location(s)||Varies (see text)|
|Previous event||July 17, 2018 (Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., United States)|
|Next event||July 9, 2019 (Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio, United States)|
|Organized by||Major League Baseball|
A Major League Baseball All-Star is a professional baseball player who has been named to either the American League (AL) or National League (NL) All-Star Team. Major league All-Star namings began in July 1933. Fans have generally participated in the selection of the players who fill the AL and NL All-Star rosters; managers, players, and coaches have also made choices in the selection process during various seasons. Between 1935 and 1946, each All-Star team's manager selected their entire teams; in 1945, the scheduled All-Star Game was cancelled due to travel restrictions during World War II and no players were officially named. From 1959 through 1962, All-Stars played in two All-Star Games each season. On January 29, 1936, Babe Ruth became the first of the original thirty-six All-Stars to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame; twenty original All-Stars are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Hank Aaron holds the record for the most All-Star namings (21) and the most All-Star Game appearances (25).
In 2017, each All-Star team had 32 players, with fans voting for the starting players (including a designated hitter of the AL team), and the players selecting the reserve players for each position and five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers. The final All-Star player vote still exists, but the MLB commissioner's office will now fill out the remaining roster spots instead of the managers. The 88th All-Star Game is scheduled to be held on July 11, 2017, at Marlins Park, home of the NL East Division's Miami Marlins.
The first All-Star Game was held on July 6, 1933, as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, at Comiskey Park (1910–1990) and was initiated by Arch Ward, then sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one.
The venue for the All-Star Game is chosen by Major League Baseball. The criteria for the venue are subjective; generally, cities with new ballparks and those who have not hosted the game in a long time—or ever—tend to get selected. Over time, this has resulted in certain cities being selected more often at the expense of others, mainly due to timely circumstances: Cleveland Stadium and the original Yankee Stadium are tied for the most times a venue has hosted the All-Star game, both hosting four games. New York City has hosted more than any other city, having done so nine times in five different stadiums. At the same time, the New York Mets failed to host for 48 seasons (1965–2012), while the Los Angeles Dodgers have not hosted since 1980 (38) and will do so in 2020. (The Dodgers hosted the second all star game on August 3rd, 1959.) Among current major league teams, the Tampa Bay Rays have yet to host the All-Star game.
In the first two decades of the game there were two pairs of teams that shared ballparks, located in Philadelphia and St. Louis. This led to some shorter-than-usual gaps between the use of those venues: The Cardinals hosted the game in 1940, and the Browns in 1948. The Athletics hosted the game in 1943, and the Phillies in 1952.
The venues traditionally alternate between the American League and National League every year. This tradition has been broken several times: The first time was in 1951, when the AL Detroit Tigers were chosen to host the annual game as part of the city's 250th birthday (corrected by the NL hosting the next two seasons). The second was when the two-game format during the 1959–1962 seasons resulted in the AL being one game ahead in turn. This was corrected in 2007, when the NL San Francisco Giants were the host for the 2007 All-Star Game, which also set up the 2008 game to be held at the AL's original Yankee Stadium in its final season. It was broken when again the NL hosted the four straight games from 2015-2018 (in Cincinnati, San Diego, Miami & Washington). The AL will host its next game in 2019 in Cleveland.
The "home team" has traditionally been the league in which the host franchise plays its games, but the American League was designated the home team for the 2016 All Star Game, despite its being played in Petco Park, home of the National League's San Diego Padres. This decision was made following the announcement of Miami as host for the 2017 All Star Game, which was the third straight year in which the game is hosted in a National League ballpark.
Since 1934, the managers of the game are the managers of the previous year's league pennant winners and World Series clubs.
The coaching staff for each team is selected by its manager. This honor is given to the manager, not the team, so it is possible that the All-Star manager could no longer be with the team with which he won. This happened in 2003, when Dusty Baker managed the National League team despite having moved from the National League champion San Francisco Giants to the Chicago Cubs. This has also included situations where the person is no longer actively managing a team. For the first All-Star Game, intended as a one-time event, Connie Mack and John McGraw were regarded as baseball's venerable managers, and were asked to lead the American and National League teams, respectively. McGraw came out of retirement for that purpose. Dick Williams resigned after managing the Oakland Athletics to the 1973 World Series. In 1974, he became manager of the California Angels, whose uniform he wore for the game. Tony La Russa, who managed the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, and retired after the season, came back to manage the National League in 2012.
In 1979, Bob Lemon managed the American League team after having been fired by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Lemon led the Yankees to the 1981 World Series but did not make it to the '82 All-Star Game as manager after again being fired by Steinbrenner, so Billy Martin, skipper of the 1981 AL runner-up Oakland Athletics, led the All-Star squad.
There have been some exceptional cases where the usual rule was abandoned. After the 1964 season and the World Series, the managers, Johnny Keane of the St. Louis Cardinals and Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees, both left their teams and found new jobs in the other league—Keane was hired to manage the Yankees and Berra became a player-coach with the New York Mets. The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds had finished in a second-place tie in the NL; the Chicago White Sox had finished second in the AL. Cincinnati's manager, Fred Hutchinson, had died in the off-season, so Gene Mauch of the Phillies and Al López of the White Sox were chosen to be the managers for the 1965 All-Star Game.
Because of the season-ending 1994–95 MLBPA strike where the season was abandoned without official league champions, the 1995 game featured the "unofficial" league champions, the managers of the clubs leading their respective leagues' won-loss records, Buck Showalter of the New York Yankees and Felipe Alou of the Montreal Expos for the All-Star Game.
The All Star game roster size for each league was 18 in 1933, 20 in 1934, 25 in 1939, 30 in 1982, 32 in 2003, and 33 in 2009. Since 2010, there are 34 players on each league's team roster.
The AL and NL All-Stars are selected through the following process:
Since the first game, American League players have worn their respective team uniforms rather than wearing uniforms made specifically for the game, while National League players waited until the second game to do this. In the first game, the National League All-Star Team wore gray uniforms with navy blue letters spelling "NATIONAL LEAGUE" across the front of the jersey with "NL" caps.
During the games of the 1970s and 1980s, alternate jerseys were commonly worn by players from the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. When the late 1980s and early 1990s approached, fewer alternates were worn for the games. They were back in use for the 1992 game by White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell and infielder Robin Ventura, and for the final time in the 1997 game by Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. & by San Diego Padres 3rd baseman Ken Caminiti. Under current MLB rules, alternate jerseys are no longer allowed to be worn during the game, as players must wear either their team's white or gray uniforms, depending on which league is the home team.
Starting with the 2014 All-Star Game, players began to wear special All-Star Game caps. For the workout, batting practice and Home Run Derby contest, players started using one type of cap with colors corresponding the league. For the All-Star Game day, players started wearing a cap with the team's logo on front and the All-Star Game logo on the right side.
In 1933 and 1934, the fans selected the 18 starters for game and the managers chose the rest of the two teams players. From 1935 through 44 and in 1946, the manager of each All-Star squad selected the entire team; in 1945, no MLB All-Star Game was held and no All-Stars were officially named.
In 1947, fans were given the opportunity to vote on the eight starting position players, but in 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box (see below), and elected a Red to every position except first base. Commissioner Ford Frick stepped in and removed two Reds from the lineup. As a response to this unfairness, fan voting was discontinued; players, coaches, and managers were given the sole authority to elect starting position players, for the next dozen years.
Between the lack of fan input and over-exposure due to the double All-Star games during the 1959–1962 seasons, interest in the game was thought to be waning. As part of the rise of the MLB Promotion Corporation's attempts to modernize marketing of baseball, fan balloting for the starting eight was restored for the 1970 game.
Sometime in the 1960s, the distinction between left-fielder, center-fielder, and right-fielder was dropped, and it was provided that the top 3 vote-getters in the outfield category would start regardless of position. Oft-heard remarks prior to this time included ones such as "If you had Clemente, you couldn't have Aaron", and so on.
Rico Carty was the first player ever selected to an All-Star team as a write-in candidate by fans, in 1970, the first year that voting was given back to the fans. Steve Garvey was the second player ever selected to an All-Star team as a write-in candidate by fans, in 1974. He was later the Most Valuable Player of that game as well as the National League MVP for that year.
Until 2003, reserves and pitchers were chosen by the manager. Player voting was re-introduced in 2003 after the managers were criticized for picking players from their own team over more deserving players from other teams. This was particularly evident in 2002, when National League manager Bob Brenly selected his own catcher, Damian Miller, over the more deserving Paul Lo Duca; while American League manager Joe Torre selected his own third baseman, Robin Ventura, over the Oakland Athletics' Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-winning third baseman Eric Chavez.
Before the 2009 game, Major League Baseball announced that an additional pitcher would be added to each roster, bringing the total for each league to 33 players. The following year, MLB announced that an extra position player would be added to each roster for the 2010 game and beyond, bringing the total to 34 for each league.
One continuing controversy of the player selection process is the rule that each team has to have at least one representative on its league's All-Star roster. Supporters of the rule point out that this prevents the large-market teams from totally dominating the squad, and keeps fan and media interest in the game, as fans would not be interested in the game if their team did not have any players involved. Opponents of the rule contend that the purpose of the game is to spotlight Major League Baseball's best players, and that some players from stronger teams are left off the roster in favor of possibly less deserving players from weaker teams.
Both these arguments were strengthened by the greater urgency of winning the game, due to the former rule that the winning league attains home field advantage in the World Series. A number of compromises were suggested in the sports/news media as measures to mitigate these selection issues, including limiting the number of representatives a particular team could have; or requiring only that a certain percentage of the 30 teams be represented; or expanding the size of the All-Star rosters.
The only exception is if a team trades its lone All-Star before the game; in this case, its league's All-Star Game manager is not required to include another player from that team.
In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box and elected 7 Reds players to start in the All-Star Game: Johnny Temple (2B), Roy McMillan (SS), Don Hoak (3B), Ed Bailey (C), Frank Robinson (LF), Gus Bell (CF), and Wally Post (RF), and the only non-Red elected to start for the National League was St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial. While the Reds were a great offensive team, most baseball observers agreed that they did not deserve seven starters in the All-Star Game. An investigation ordered by Commissioner Ford Frick showed that over half of the ballots cast came from Cincinnati, as the Cincinnati Enquirer had printed up pre-marked ballots and distributed them with the Sunday newspaper to make it easy for Reds fans to vote often for their favorite stars.
Commissioner Ford Frick appointed Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves to substitute for Reds players Gus Bell and Wally Post, and took fan voting rights away in future games; Bell was kept as a reserve, while Post was injured and would have been unable to play in any event. Managers, players, and coaches picked the entire team until 1969, when the vote for starters again returned to the fans; to prevent a repeat of this incident, since 1970 until the start of internet voting, each team has been given the same number of ballots to hand out. In 1998, that number was roughly 400,000 ballots.
The 1988 Game was surrounded by tacit accusations against Oakland A's fans of stuffing the ballot box in favor of catcher Terry Steinbach, whose qualifications as a starter were questioned by some sportswriters. Steinbach wound up being named the game's Most Valuable Player, hitting a home run and a sacrifice fly to get both RBIs in a 2–1 win.
Since the dawn of the internet age, online voting has again led to ballot stuffing. In 1999, Chris Nandor, a Red Sox fan, utilized a simple computer program to vote for Nomar Garciaparra over 39,000 times. Upon discovery, MLB disallowed the votes. Major League Baseball assures that they have taken precautions to guard against this.
In 2015, Kansas City Royals fans were accused of stuffing the ballot box when eight of their players (Salvador Pérez, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Alex Gordon, and Omar Infante) were leading the ballots at their respective positions before the final tally was taken. Had this result stood, the only non-Royal in the American League's starting lineup would have been Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim player Mike Trout. This also would have been a record for the most players from one team starting in the All-Star game. However, after MLB cancelled 65 million votes citing voting fraud, the final starting roster included only Salvador Pérez, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Alex Gordon (Gordon would be replaced due to injury). The only other Royals to make the final lineup were Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis; Moustakas as the winner of the AL All-Star Final Vote while Herrera and Davis, both pitchers, were chosen through either Player Ballots or by Royals and AL Manager, Ned Yost.
In 1989, a designated hitter was allowed in the All-Star Game for the first time. Between 1989 and 2010, the designated hitter rule was applied based on the league in which the host team plays; it was used for games played in American League ballparks – in each such instance, both teams used a designated hitter – while in National League ballparks, managers have scheduled the pitcher to hit, though pinch hitters have almost always been used in practice. This allows a deserving nonstarter to make a plate appearance. In 2010, Major League Baseball announced the designated hitter rule would apply for every All-Star Game; while the 2010 game was already to have the DH, the 2011 game was the first played in a National League park with a DH.
The All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award is presented annually to the most outstanding player of each season's All-Star Game. Presented each year beginning in 1962 (two games were held in 1962 and an award was presented for each game), the MVP award was originally called the Arch Ward Memorial Award, after the man who came up with the concept of the All-Star Game in 1933. In 1970, the name was changed to the Commissioner's Trophy (two NL players were presented the award in 1975); however, the name change was reversed in 1985, so that the World Series Trophy (first awarded in 1967) could be renamed the Commissioner's Trophy. In 2002, the trophy itself retained its eponym, while the award itself was dedicated as The Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, in honor of former Boston Red Sox player Ted Williams, who had died earlier that year.
The first tie in an All-Star Game occurred on July 31, 1961 at Fenway Park in Boston when the game was called at 1–1 after nine innings due to rain; the only other rain-shortened game was in 1952, but the National League defeated the American League, 3–2 in five innings.
The 2002 All-Star Game, held in Milwaukee, ended in controversy in the 11th inning when both teams ran out of substitute players available to pitch in relief. At that point, Commissioner Bud Selig (a Milwaukee native and former owner of the Brewers) declared that the game would end after 11 innings, and it ended in a 7–all tie. The crowd booed and threw beer bottles onto the field, and the media were highly critical of this unsatisfactory conclusion.
To provide additional incentive for victory, Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the players union to award home-field advantage for the World Series to the champion of the league that won the All-Star Game, for 2003 and 2004. The agreement was extended for both 2005 and 2006, and it remained in place until 2016. Since 2017, home-field advantage has been awarded to the World Series team having the better regular season record.
Previously, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated between the two leagues each year. The American League took advantage of the new rule in each of its first seven years: between 2003 and 2009, the American League won four Series and the National League won three. The National League champion benefited from this rule for the first time in 2010.
Even with this rule in effect, there was no guarantee that a repeat of the 2002 situation would not occur; to avoid future ties due to lack of available players, managers have been instructed to (and have voluntarily) hold back a few select position players and pitchers. This has resulted in some fan dissatisfaction and controversy when these players are never actually used in the game, for example Tim Wakefield in the 2009 All-Star Game. Such a move has resulted in calls to allow limited re-entry of players who have been replaced during the game (in addition to catchers, which is already allowed), thereby giving the freedom to use all the players on the roster without leaving teams with the situation where no players are available, as was the case in 2002. Since 2010, each league's manager is allowed to designate one position player who can re-enter the game to replace an injured or ejected player at any position, in addition to the existing rule covering catchers.
A tie game could also be deemed a "suspended game" in which case it would become a tie if no make-up date was scheduled, but it would be extremely difficult to find such a make-up date in any event as Major League Baseball would have to postpone one or more days of the regular season and/or schedule the make-up date on a travel day during the postseason, the latter which would be unfair to teams involved in the upcoming series. Since 2012, there have been off days for all teams on the Wednesday and Thursday after the All-Star Game, and if necessary, the game could be finished in the morning or afternoon on Wednesday/Thursday if the situation warranted it.
Furthermore, various writers have stated that home-field advantage in the World Series should be decided based on the regular season records of the participants, not on an exhibition game such as the All-Star Game played several months earlier. Some writers especially questioned the integrity of this rule after the 2014 All-Star Game, when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright suggested that he intentionally gave Derek Jeter some easy pitches to hit in the New York Yankees' shortstop's final All-Star appearance before he retired at the end of that season.
Since 2017, home field advantage in the World Series goes to the league champion team with the higher regular season win-loss record.
89 All-Star Games have been played (including two games per year from 1959–1962), with the AL winning 44, the NL 43, plus two ties. The All-Star Game has seen several "eras" in which one league tended to dominate. From 1933 to 1949, the American League won 12 out of the first 16. The National League dominated from 1950 to 1987, winning 33 of 42 with 1 tie. This included a stretch from 1963 to 1982 when it won 19 of 20, including 11 in a row from 1972 to 1982. Since 1988, the American League has dominated, winning 24 of 31 with 1 tie, including a 13-game unbeaten streak (12–0–1) from 1997 to 2009.
The AL has a 369-367 run advantage.
Since 1963, the All-Star Game has been played on a Tuesday in July every year except for these three:
The game was played at night for the first time in 1942, at the Polo Grounds, located in New York City. Since 1970 every ASG has been played under the lights, though when held at venues near enough to the west coast, the game starts in daylight in the late afternoon.
There were two All-Star Games played each season from 1959 through 1962. The second game was added to raise money for the MLB players' pension funds, as well as other causes. The experiment was later abandoned on the grounds that having two games watered down the appeal of the event.
In 1981, the game was moved from July to August, after the middle portion of the 1981 season, including the scheduled All-Star break, had been erased by the MLB players' strike. To promote the resumption of the season, the game (in Cleveland) was moved from its original July date to August 9. Second-half regular-season play began the next afternoon with a game in Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Since 1999, the All-Star Futures Game has been held during All-Star Week. The two teams, one consisting of young players from the United States and the other consisting of young players from all other nations, are usually chosen based on prospect status in the minor leagues.
Since 2001, the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game pits teams with a mixture of former stars from the host team's past, as well as celebrities from music, film, and television. This game is held during the day prior to the Home Run Derby. (However, it is tape-delayed and broadcast after the Derby.)
Since 2002, the ESPY Awards ceremony has been conducted on the Wednesday in July following the game. Because none of the major North American professional leagues have games scheduled for that day – the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League are not in-season, MLB does not have games that day, and likewise college sports are on summer vacation – major sports figures are available to attend. The show used to air on the subsequent Sunday five days later, with the results announced on ESPN.com and thereafter across media outlets immediately after taping was complete. Since 2010, the ESPY Awards are shown live (the first time was 2003); this helps the network fill airtime that would go unfilled because of the lack of any major league or high-level college sporting events.
(1959-1962 seasons had two All-Star Games and 1945 season no All-Star Game)
Most of the changes were regarding issues that had been discussed for weeks, but one surprising twist is that home-field advantage in the World Series will no longer be tied to the All-Star Game, as first reported by The Associated Press. Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will get home-field advantage in the Fall Classic.