Monday, March 24, 2014

The Most Memorable All-Star Games--1934-1939

During the 1930s, a slew of interesting events took place during the Midsummer Classic.

In 1934, Carl Hubbell of the Giants took the mound against a menacing assortment of AL sluggers. Master of the screwball, Hubbell carried the regal nickname of "King Carl" for his dominance of opponents. He got off to a shaky start as Detroit's Charlie Gehringer singled and Washington's Heinie Manush followed with a walk. Babe Ruth then strolled to the plate with a chance to blow the game wide open. Rising to the challenge, Hubbell struck him out on four pitches. Up next was Lou Gehrig--arguably the greatest clutch-hitter of all time. He swung through three of Hubbell's offerings and returned to his spot on the bench. But the AL threat was far from extinguished with Jimmie Foxx due to hit. Foxx had won consecutive MVP awards in '32/'33, launching 106 homers while collecting 332 RBIs in that span. Unfazed, Hubbell disposed of the A's big bopper on three pitches, retiring the side. Putting the finishing touches on a legendary performance, the crafty Giants' hurler fanned Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in the second inning before yielding a single to Yankee catcher Bill Dickey. Dickey wasn't going anywhere as his battery mate, Lefty Gomez, whiffed on three offerings. Years later, Hubbell confessed that Ruth was the only hitter in the bunch that he was actively trying to strike out. Hubbell was removed after the third inning with the NL sitting on a 4-0 lead. In his absence, the America League rallied for a 9-7 victory.

The 1936 affair is best remembered for a horrific performance by one of the game's most iconic figures. Playing in his rookie season, Joe DiMaggio ended up as the goat with an 0-for-5 performance at the plate. He stranded eight base runners in all and killed a promising AL rally in the seventh when he lined out with the bases loaded. In the top of the ninth, he had a chance to redeem himself. With two outs, a runner on second and the AL trailing, 4-3, he failed to deliver once again, flying out to second base. DiMaggio's defensive performance wasn't much better as he came up empty on a shoestring catch in the second inning, allowing a run-scoring triple to Gabby Hartnett. In the fifth, he bungled a single by Cubs' second baseman Billy Herman, allowing Herman to move up a base and eventually score. Fortunately for DiMaggio, there were 10,000 empty seats at Braves Field as fans stayed away, believing the game to be sold out.

In 1938,  a sloppy contest ended in a  4-1 NL victory. In the first inning, slick-fielding BoSox shortstop Joe Cronin allowed a grounder by Cubs' second-baseman Billy Herman to pass through his legs.Chicago's Stan Hack, who had opened the game with a single, moved to third and scored on a sacrifice by Cardinals' slugger Joe Medwick. Several innings later, the most astonishing series of miscues in All Star history took place. With the NL leading 2-0 in the seventh, Lefty Grove was summoned to pitch. AL skipper Joe McCarthy moved Jimmie Foxx to third to make room for Lou Gehrig. Frank McCormick, one of several Reds players who saw action that day, greeted Grove with a single. Leo Durocher came to the plate with instructions to lay down a sacrifice and ended up with the only "bunt homer" in All-Star history. Durocher pushed the ball down the third baseline. Gehrig was playing shallow and second baseman Charlie Gehringer failed to cover first. Foxx fielded the ball and threw to the unmanned bag. Not the fleetest of runners, McCormick motored home as right fielder Joe DiMaggio (in another forgettable All-Star moment) unleashed an errant throw that sailed far beyond the reach of teammate Bill Dickey at the plate. As legend has it, the ball ended up in the NL dugout, where coach Casey Stengel dropped it in a bucket of water and declared: "That's too hot to handle!" Durocher scored, giving the NL an airtight lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment