By Emily Waldon
As the city of Chicago gathered to plan out the 1933 centennial celebration of the birth of the city, they set out to feature an experience that the locals would not soon forget.
The monumental occasion came in the form of the World’s Fair and was held on 427 acres of land stretching along the shore of Lake Michigan. The fair featured some of the most cutting edge exhibits including a visit from the German airship, the Graf Zeppelin.
In order to insure the fair be set apart as a truly unforgettable experience Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly called upon the face of the Chicago Tribune, Colonel Robert McCormick, to assist in the creation of a sporting event that would draw in more of the depression era residents and continue marketing the fair as a family event.
McCormick was quick to approach his associate, sports editor Arch Ward, regarding the request. Since coming onboard with the Tribune in 1925, Ward had quickly developed a reputation as one of the most respected members in his field.
Following the discussion, Ward an avid baseball enthusiast, knew instantly the direction he would like to go. Little did he know that the brainstorming about to take place would eventually launch one of the most beloved events in professional sports.
Ward presented the idea of a one-time exhibition baseball game between the brightest professional stars of the National and American Leagues. Following lengthy meetings between managers and both league presidents, the Mid-Summer Classic was born.
Over 47,000 fans from around the country came in off the dusty streets of downtown Chicago, some camping out for days, and packed into Comiskey Park to witness the grandeur of adjoining household names such as New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gerhig, Detroit Tigers second baseman Charlie Gehringer and an aging right fielder by the name of George Herman Ruth.
Ruth contributed to the satisfaction of the fans by sending a third inning pitch, from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bill Hallahan, sailing into the right field grandstands, recording the crowning long ball in the history of the All-Star classic. He would go on to retire two years later.
Due to the overwhelming success of the exhibition, the event would quickly become a staple in the professional baseball schedule.
While the game has successfully maintained the adoration of its fans, the festivities have continually developed as time has passed. It introduced us to Home Run Derby, giving wide-eyed young boys and girls a chance to observe their heroes driving the ball to record lengths in superhuman fashion.
It gave us the starting lineup for the 1934 American League team where all nine chosen starters would go on to enter the Hall of Fame. In 1971, it gave us a pinch-hitting substitute by the name of Reggie Jackson, who would step to the plate for the American League and drive the ball an estimated 520 feet before crashing into a transformer atop Tiger Stadium.
This year’s game, tonight, is preparing to unveil fresh faces combined with insurmountable talent embodied by figures such as Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera and a soft-spoken shortstop, boasting 14 All Star selections who has crafted a legacy in the Bronx that will live on in the history books. Tonight, Derek Jeter will take the All-Star field for a final curtain call.
The All-Star game has produced a routinely unscripted and memorable experience for fans of all ages. An experience that reminds us all of the purity of the game as it once was.
As both teams take the field tonight, we are once again certain to witness just that.
Emily Waldon was raised in Howard City and currently resides in Wyoming, Mich. A lifelong sports enthusiast, she also enjoys photography, traveling and bringing a fresh outlook to the world of athletics, both collegiate and professional. She can be reached at email@example.com.