The Major League Baseball “All-Star Game” started off as a gimmick, and remains a gimmick eighty-three years later. The first “gimmick,” if you will, was played in Chicago at Comiskey Park. Neither American nor National League owners ever thought about pitting their stars against one another in the previous thirty years that the two leagues claimed major league status. The origin of the mid summer classic seems to have come from a meeting between Chicago Mayor, Edward J. Kelly, and the Chicago Tribune newspaper editorial staff. Kelly was looking for a major sports event to be part of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Arch Ward, the Sports Editor, proposed the idea of an “All-Star Game” which was supposed to be a one-time deal. Baseball always had a close relationship with newspapers as newspapers gave the sport free publicity. By way of newspapers, fans were able to vote for the starters. The net revenue from the game went to former players in need of money.
The first “All-Star Game” did not even feature the National League. The contest took place in Cleveland in 1911 with the American League beating the Cleveland Naps in a fund raiser. The leagues acted as stand-alone entities for decades and were not streamlined to become one until the 1990’s. Arch Ward has an interesting place in sports history. Ward was able to convince the struggling owners of National Football League teams in 1934 to play college football “all-stars” for charity in Chicago. With great success, that annual game lasted until 1976. Ward was also a force behind the All American Football Conference which started in 1946 and ended in 1949 when the NFL took in three teams.
As far as today’s gimmick, Major League Baseball decides the World Series home field advantage by giving the winning team from the league the extra home game. Why, you ask? Baseball feels more people will watch the game.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.