1923 All-Star Game: National League Claws Way To Victory In Front Of Record Crowd
NATIONAL LEAGUE CLAWS WAY TO VICTORY
IN FRONT OF RECORD CROWD
NEW YORK, July 10.—More than 75,000 patrons walked through the gates of Yankee Stadium today to watch the mid-summer battle between the American and National Leagues, and at least 25,000 more citizens were turned away for lack of space. The estimated attendance broke the record set earlier this year when 74,200 fans christened the new gardens on Opening Day, and had Colonels Ruppert and Huston “piled more concrete on concrete, more steel on steel,” a throng into the six figures might well have been accommodated.
Those who were rebuffed had the comfort of their wirelesses transmitting the voices of Westinghouse’s Grantland Rice and Graham McNamee to keep them abreast of each pitch, the first time an All-Star game’s ebb and flow had been transmitted to the nation through the air. Whether in person or at home, the audience was treated to a hard-fought and exciting affair that resulted in a 10-8 victory for the National League.
The American League sent St. Louis Browns hurler Urban Shocker to the mound, and the Nationals countered with Dolf Luque, the Cuban possessed of a blazing fastball and equally fiery temperament.
It’s a testament to John McGraw’s thirst for winning that he awarded Luque the plum assignment, as the Reds hurler nearly decapitated Giants outfielder Casey Stengel with a punch to the jaw last summer, then punctuated the fracas by grabbing a bat and waving it menacingly at the Giants’ bench. But Luque has been brilliant thus far and by dint of his record alone deserved to have the ball at the start.
Both slab men threw as if they wanted to be anywhere but here, as neither made it out of the second inning before being pulled from the contest. Shocker issued a free pass to Johnny Mokan to lead things off, but he was erased at second when Charlie Hollocher grounded to Shocker, who threw to Joe Sewell for the out. Mokan flipped Sewell with a hard slide and kept the Indians shortstop from completing a double play. Rogers Hornsby sent Hollocher to third with a double to right field, and then three runs were coined when Robins first sacker Jack Fournier belted a drive into the right field stands, much to the delight of those Brooklynites in attendance.
Two batters later, Babe Ruth gave the locals a thrill when he tracked down a long drive by Bob O’Farrell that was destined for extra bases before “The Bambino” corralled it with a leaping grab. The play brought the crowd to its feet and Ruth was serenaded with cheers and applause until he reached the dugout.
Shocker finally escaped the inning and it was up to Luque to get his teammates back to the plate as quickly as possible, but the junior circuit had malice in its heart. Fred Haney, a hobbled Eddie Collins and Ruth poled out successive singles to load the bases with no outs. Ken Williams plated Haney while grounding out to first, Tris Speaker bounced to short to score Collins, and “Tioga George” Burns dropped a hit in front of center fielder Cy Williams to score Ruth and knot the game at three.
The McGraws fired another salvo in the second in the form of a massive wallop off the bat of Pirates third baseman Harold “Pie” Traynor, who propelled the pellet to a section of the left-center field stand that is so distant it might as well be in a different borough. It was one of the longest clouts ever witnessed on a ball field, and gave the National League a 4-3 lead. Shocker appeared to be shaken up by the homer and walked Ross Youngs, ending his day as Miller Huggins wasted no time putting a fresh arm into the game.
Stanley Coveleskie retired the first two men he faced on grounders before Hollocher shot a hit into left field that sent Youngs home with the McGraw’s fifth tally. Luque continued his poor performance in the bottom of the frame, allowing a hit to catcher Muddy Ruel and a two-bagger to Haney that scored both Ruel and Coveleskie, who’d reached on a Traynor error. By then, “Little Napoleon” had seen enough and sent “Old Pete” Alexander to replace Luque.
Alexander hypnotized Marty McManus, Ruth and Williams with an array of slants that produced a grounder, a pop fly and a liner expertly speared by Hornsby to keep the game tied at 5-5. Coveleskie and Alexander traded punches for the next two rounds, neither man giving an inch. Cy Williams upended McManus with an aggressive slide into third, and the keystone man took exception and had words with the larger man before cooler heads prevailed. The fourth inning saw the junior circuit record three hits, but a twin-killing kept them whitewashed and another zero was penciled into the ledger.
Yankees southpaw Herb Pennock took over pitching duties for the juniors in the top of the fifth, and was the victim of shoddy glove work that gave the seniors a run that briefly broke the tie. McManus pegged a wild heave to first on a grounder by Williams and the Phillies slugger landed on second. O’Farrell pushed the runner to third with a bounder, and then Williams sprinted home when Ruel mishandled a Pennock slant to Traynor, one that had an extra wrinkle in it and got by the catcher.
Johnny Morrison stepped to the pitching slab to start the bottom of the fifth and started Ken Williams off with one of his vaunted jug handle curves, normally a deadly weapon against enemy batters, but the pitch hung in the air like a rainbow and by the time it reached Williams had a big pot of gold at the end of it. Judging by the grin on Williams’ face before he connected, that’s likely what he saw anyway. He promptly deposited the pitch deep into the seats in right-center field and the contest was once again even, this time at 6-6.
Pennock surrendered the lead again in the sixth without anyone to blame but himself, when he found Irish Meusel’s bat with a fastball that was shot over the heads of Ruth and Speaker and bounced around while the Giant sped to third with a triple. Herb then served up a safety to Hollocher that gave the NL a 7-6 edge. Huggins summoned Red Sox veteran Howard Ehmke from the bullpen, and “Bob” navigated the Americans’ way out of trouble. Morrison and Ehmke went unscathed in the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh, before the AL made one last push.
McGraw gave the ball to Brooklyn’s Dazzy Vance in the bottom of the stanza in hopes that the fireballer’s fast one would bedazzle in the wake of Morrison’s curve, but it only served to add extra distance to another long fly ball. Ruth strode to the plate amid a mighty din, the throng on its feet and at full throat for the “Sultan of Swat,” pleading for him to club a circuit blast that would pull the temporary Hugmen even again. Vance was careful with the Babe and issued a free pass, which drew some catcalls from the hopefuls in the stands.
Their disappointment didn’t last long, however, for two pitches later Williams poled the pill almost to the same exact locale as his previous round-tripper, and the American League jumped back into the lead at 8-7. Neither squad tallied in their next turn at bat, and the tilt went to the ninth inning with the juniors clinging to a one-run lead and Yankees righty “Sad Sam” Jones entering his second inning of work. Teammate Bob Shawkey was quickly loosening up just in case and it’s a good thing as Jones proved ineffective.
Traynor shot a single to left and Youngs drew a base on balls. Huggins called on Shawkey and McGraw countered with Reds center fielder and two-time batting champ, Edd Roush. Roush lined a triple to center to plate Traynor and Youngs, and Hollocher drove Roush home with a deep fly to right that put the National League up by a count of 10-8. McGraw threw Giants hurler “Handsome Hugh” McQuillan into the fray and he preserved the victory for the nationals. It was their first win since 1919.
Cast Your Vote For the 1924 All-Stars!
Back in days of olde—to wit, in the Year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixteen, way back when the college men of today were barely adolescents, and elderly men merely in the last throes of middle age—the best and most important baseball tradition taking place between Opening Day and the World’s Series was birthed. We speak, of course, of the All-Star Game.
This year’s Game will provide no less the thrill, excitement and memories of past games. No baseball man can forget when the Big Train and the Big Babe teamed up to flummox the Nationals in ’16; when renowned no-hit dueler Fred Toney stranded runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 4-3 senior circuit victory in ’19; or when the heroes of the diamond offered their stirring tribute to the fallen Ray Chapman before the 10-8 slugfest in Cleveland in ’21.
These memories will live forever in the annals of ball, but YOU can help author the next chapter with YOUR selection of the All-Star starters and best three pitchers for each squad to play for YOU in this year’s game, taking place on Tuesday, July 8 in Chicago at the majestic new Wrigley Field, home of the perennial powerhouse Chicago Cubs.
So make your choices from among the brightest lights in today’s shining game by exercising your right as an American to vote! Do your patriotic duty and VOTE TODAY!
Voting will be open until 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time on January 3, 2014. The managers will round out the rosters, the games will be played using OOTP 14, and the game account and box score will be posted on Seamheads.com.
— Chuck Hildebrandt