A Moment in Time – 8/23/36

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Sunday, August 23, 1936, Comiskey Park, Chicago, and in one of the most beautiful Negro League photos you’ll see, the “East” roster poses for photos prior to the 4th Annual East-West All-Star Game.

Running parallel to the Major League’s midsummer classic but typically held later in the season, it was initiated in 1933 and was primarily a Comiskey Park event for much of its 30-year existence, hosting the games from 1933-1945 (with rookie KC Monarch Jackie Robinson playing in the 1945 contest), 1947-1957, and 1959-1960 (excepting second games added in 1939, 1942, and 1948, and two games at other venues in 1946, the only games at Yankee Stadium in 1958 and 1961, and the final game at Municipal Stadium at Kansas City in 1962).

Voting was done through newspaper balloting, tallied by two major African-American papers of the day, the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier. As some teams were independent, votes were counted by geographic location and not by league, hence the “East-West” game.

 

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Three of the greatest Negro League players in history, on the same All-Star team in 1936: Satchel Paige, top left, Josh Gibson, top right, Cool Papa Bell, lower left

“East” luminaries pictured include a young (27 year old) Satchel Paige, an even younger (24 year old) Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell. Manager and Negro Leagues legend Oscar Charleston (see above) is kneeling far left (1st in second row).

Attendance was 26,400. Only four teams were represented, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Washington Elite Giants for the East, and the Kansas City Monarchs and Chicago American Giants for the West. The top vote getter for both teams was Paige, with 18,275 votes, over 7,000 more than anyone else.

It was a laugher for the East, 10-2, paced by Bell (3 for 3) and Gibson (2 for 3). Paige pitched the last 3 innings to close it out, only allowing an unearned run.

Cover and East lineup from the scorecard are below.

 

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Interesting articles from the Pittsburgh Courier, August 29, 1936, only published on Saturdays at that time (as always, click on photo to see a larger more readable version), including a bit of editorializing from the City Editor’s desk, pleading the case of their constituents: “There will eventually be “color” in the major leagues, and that color will be black!”. He was right, just a little over a decade away.

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A Moment In Time – 7/12/55

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maysnewpTuesday, July 12, 1955, the 22nd All-Star Game, County Stadium, Milwaukee. Top of the 7th inning, AL up 5-0, one on, two out, and Willie Mays leaps at the fence to steal a home run away from Ted Williams, which would’ve made the score 7-0. In the NY Times: “…Williams stroked a powerful smash to right center. But Willie gave chase and just as the ball appeared to clear the wire railing, the Say Hey Kid leaped up to snare the ball in his glove.”

As it was an All-Star Game, there were many press photographers present, and as shown here, there were photos taken from all angles of this amazing catch, since no doubt there were many cameras already trained on Mays. Willie was flying high in 1955, as the reigning NL MVP, batting champ, and with the other New York Giants, World Series Champions from 1954. Unfortunately, the Gold Glove award was not originated until 1957, but it’s a sure bet that Mays would have snagged a few in the early ’50’s, as he in fact won 12 straight NL OF GG’s right from the award’s inception until 1969. Also, in the ’50’s and ’60’s, you could’ve almost renamed the ASG “Willie Mays Day” as he participated in the game in every season of his career, except his rookie season (in which he was Rookie Of The Year!).

 

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The American League could’ve used that clout by Williams; after Mays caught the last out in the top of the 7th, above, he trotted in and led off the bottom of the inning with a single, eventually coming around to score as the NL tallied 2 in the 7th, and then for good measure, Willie also singled and scored during a rally in the 8th as the National League scored 3 more to tie it. Mays did strike out looking with two on to end the 9th, however, sending the game into extras. Would the Say Hey Kid have one more magical moment this day? Perhaps, but Stan Musial had other ideas, hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the NL a 6-5 victory – with Mays on deck.

Griffith Glory

Just a quick post to show off these glorious color fan photos from the 1956 All-Star Game in Griffith Stadium, Washington, DC. It’s all here – the classic dark green of the stands, the beautiful National Bohemian beer ad so prominent in the old park, the striking colors of the uniforms, especially the backs of the National Leaguers (a lot of Reds present with their sleeveless unis, and especially Ted Kluszewski, with no undershirt at all – also a lot of Yankees lined up along the other side), all the pomp and circumstance, and lastly what would have to be Duke Snider batting in the 7th or 8th inning, with the White Sox’ Sherm Lollar catching, and ol’ Casey looking on from the dugout. So pop open a cold “Natty Boh” and enjoy. Box score link at bottom.

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http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1956/B07100ALS1956.htm

Welcome to Shea Stadium…now batting, #7, Mickey Mantle

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Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra at the 1964 All Star Game at Shea Stadium

There was a discussion in the Baseball Fever boards a while ago whether the venerable Mickey Mantle ever played at the Polo Grounds, and I believe it was determined he made one appearance, for an exhibition in 1957. Anyway, it got me to thinking about the Polo Grounds’ descendant, Shea Stadium, and how many times old #7 stepped to the plate at Shea (and probably stepped out a few times to let the planes pass as well).

Since, unfortunately, the Mets and Yankees did not meet in the World Series during Mantle’s career (Mick just missed his shot, retiring before the Mets’ first championship season), any appearances would have had to be limited to exhibition games of some sort.

First up would be the most obvious, the All-Star Game at brand new Shea on July 7, 1964. Mickey went 1-4, with the one hit a 6th inning single off the Phillies’ Chris Short, and scored along with Harmon Killebrew on a Brooks Robinson triple that just eluded Willie Mays and tied the game at 3-3 (Johnny Callison winning it for the NL with his classic walk-off in the 9th).

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Only known photo of Mickey Mantle batting at Shea Stadium, ’64 ASG

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After that, the only other exhibitions where the Yankees would play in Queens would be the Mayor’s Trophy Game (NYNL vs NYAL), revived in 1963 at Yankee Stadium. With the game at Shea every other year, Mantle played in the 1964, 1966 and 1968 contests in Flushing (boxes below).

August 24, 1964 – A month after the ASG, 0-0, appeared to have walked in his first and only at bat, and Pepitone pinch-ran for him.

June 27, 1966 – 0-1.

May 27, 1968 – 1-2, a single off Dan Frisella.

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So, Mick’s career at Shea: 4 games, going 2-7 in 8 official trips to the plate (.222), with 2 singles and a run scored.

Incidentally, the 1968 game above was not his last at-bat in an NL park – he went 0-1 in the Astrodome at the ASG on July 9th, in his last ASG appearance, striking out in his only at bat. Who was the NL Star who struck him out? None other than Met Tom Seaver, the only time the two faced each other in their careers (video of the K below).