By Lisa R. Neilson
Big cities are infamous for their celebrity sightings and all-star appeal. Who doesn’t like to boast that they spotted Uma Thurman browsing in a 5th Avenue boutique or sat next to Matt Damon chowing down a steak at STK Downtown?
Of course, I’d prefer running into NY Mets third baseman David Wright or Baltimore Oriole’s J.J. Hardy, or any of the All-Star MLB players convening in Queens these next few days. On Tuesday, July 16th, the charming Citi Field will be the ‘city’ to watch as it plays host to the 84th MLB Midsummer Classic, showcasing 30 first-time All-Stars and a schedule of events that promises to be something to write home about (or at least blog about!).
While many say that the MLB All-Star Game has lost its allure, over 176,000 people are estimated to travel to NYC this weekend for the game and related events, and total television viewership is expected to be more than 30 million viewers worldwide. That’s pretty good for a sporting competition that fans keep calling meaningless.
The truth is the All-Star Game is part of baseball’s traditions. It debuted in 1933 in Comiskey Park due to the insistence of Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. It has been played every year since, and from 1959 to 1962, there were actually two All-Star Games each season. It marks the half-way point in the MLB season.
Think you know all there is to know about the MLB All-Star Game? Here are a few fun facts from past and present that might surprise you:
- The Pittsburgh Pirates have four players on this year’s roster for the first time since 1981.
- Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera, who has already announced that he’ll retire at the end of the season, will be an All-Star for the 13th time.
- The Detroit Tigers have the most representatives with a total of six on the 2013 roster.
- Robinson Cano is the Yankees’ lone All-Star position player.
- 35 MLB-themed “All-Star” apple statues will appear at notable city landmarks; each statue is six feet tall and weighs more than 350 pounds.
- Starting pitchers for this year won’t be announced until Monday, July 15th, but NY Mets ace Matt Harvey is expected to be tapped for the National League.
- To date, only two franchises have never hosted an All-Star Game – the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Of the remaining 28 franchises, the New York Mets had gone the longest period without hosting the event (they last did so in 1964).
- In 2010, rosters were expanded by one extra position player to a total of 34.
- The designated hitter is now used in all games, even in NL ballparks.
- Of the 18 players who started the 1934 game, only one, Wally Berger, is not in the Hall of Fame.
- The 2002 All-Star Game ended in the 11th inning in a tie: Commissioner Bud Selig declared the game over when both teams ran out of substitute players available to pitch in relief. The game was played in Milwaukee.
- The longest game occurred in 2008 with a total time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.
- Steve Garvey started more All-Star Games at first base (nine) than any other player.
- Willie Mays had six multi-hit games; Stan Musial had five multi-hit games and has hit the most home runs in All-Star play with six.
Enjoy this year’s game!