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Baseball Wed Jul 17 2013

First All-Star Game Ball on Display in Chicago

i67246.jpgAll-Star games are commonplace now not only across top-level professional sports, but it's also a staple of minor league, college, high school and even little league seasons. The game is not just an entertaining exhibition for spectators and a reward for talented players, it also serves as a snapshot of a moment in time; all the best players gathered for one game, a marker of what happened and who mattered in a current year. Some might say otherwise, but All-Star games, particularly Major League Baseball's, are still a big deal.

In that context, it's crazy that the game had to be invented, and that it was a radical idea. It wasn't created by the commissioner or an owner or even a player. No, it was a concept thought up by a sportswriter. In 1933, Arch Ward, the sports editor at the Chicago Tribune, organized a one-game exhibition between the best players in the National and American Leagues at Comiskey Park.

On July 6, the AL bested the NL 4-2 in front of 49,200 fans. The game featured not only some of the best players of that year, but some of the best players of all time. Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez and Babe Ruth all started, and Ruth even smacked a home run. Bill Dickey, Jimmie Foxx, Pie Traynor and Paul Waner came off the bench. Chicago was also represented, as the city claimed five All-Stars between the Cubs and Sox, including Gabby Hartnett and Al Simmons.

The Chicago History Museum has the ball that started it all. The baseball, the first pitch of the game by Gomez, was signed by Ruth and several other 1933 All-Stars, and is part of the Unexpected Chicago exhibition. The ball will be on display for the rest of July and through August.

The Museum has many other exhibitions as well, from an installation on Abraham Lincoln to an Ebony Magazine fashion fair. The Chicago History Museum is at 1601 N. Clark St. in Chicago, and ticket prices are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and students from 13-22, and free for kids under 12.

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