Heritage Sports – For the vast majority of Big League ballplayers, the middle of July offers a rare few days of rest, a chance to soothe aching muscles and visit family at home. But the elite few will find themselves sharing a dugout with enemy personnel in a battle for League bragging rights called the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
The tradition began in the Depression days of 1933, the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward who envisioned a meeting of baseball’s best to be a fine companion to the city’s “Century of Progress” Exposition. An exceptional array of talent took to the field at Comiskey Park on July 6th, featuring legends like Jimmie Foxx, Carl Hubbell, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth (whose jersey from the game was auctioned by Heritage in October 2006 for the sum of $657,250.) With the eightieth edition of the Midsummer Classic now in the books, we’ll take a quick look at some of the other collectible treasures the event has supplied to the hobby.
Most popular among All-Star Game collectors is probably the team signed baseball. Aside from the obvious appeal that comes from a compilation of autographs from the game’s best and brightest, All-Star team balls also tend to be free of secretarial or “clubhouse” signatures. You’ll find many a bogus Mantle on Yankee balls, and Jackie and Campy are often the work of the batboy on Dodger spheres, but almost never will these folks appear on All-Star specimens in false format.
Programs and press pins are also desirable relics of the sport’s most important exhibition game. Particularly tough programs are the 1936 Boston episode (attended by just 25,556, the smallest crowd in the game’s history) and the 1942 New York’s Polo Grounds game, with its programs largely lost to World War II paper drives. The first All-Star Game press pin derives from the 1938 Cincinnati edition, and one has been issued for every game since. They tend to get tougher, and more valuable, as they get older.