Major League Baseball is bringing its All-Star Game back to Los Angeles.
It will be – bear with me here – the fourth time the Dodgers have hosted the All-Star Game, the third time in Los Angeles, but only the second time at Dodger Stadium.
Still billed as the mid-summer classic, the Major League All-Star Game has been diluted by interleague play and the over-the-top roster sizes, and who can ever forget the infamous All-Star Game tie back in 2002 when both teams ran out of pitchers?
The game has evolved over time from a death match between leagues to a competitive exhibition to a friendly exhibition where everyone gets to play. But it’s still a chance to rejoice in the simple pleasures of baseball and see the game’s biggest stars.
Dodger Stadium will be roaring Tuesday night, July 19. Some of those cheers are the echoes of history.
Here’s looking back at the previous Dodger All-Star Games.
1949: There’s Skin In The Game
Ebbetts Field was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and home for the 1949 All-Star game on July 11. It was a county still bouncing back after World War II.
This was the 16th All-Star game in Major League history. It was the first time that black players ever competed in the contest. The Dodgers had Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe on the NL squad. The AL had Larry Doby from the Cleveland Indians.
Brothers Joe and Dom DiMaggio were each on the AL squad. They would be named All-Stars together six times. Joe D went 2-4 with three RBI and started in center field. Yes, he played the whole game because that’s what you did. Dom started in right.
The AL jumped out to a 4-0 in the top of the first. Stan Musial hit a homer for the NL, but the AL was too good at the plate and won 11-7.
It was the highest-scoring All-Star game to that point and still the fourth highest-scoring All-Star Game in history.
1959: Let’s Play Two and In LA
The Dodgers were in their second year in Los Angeles and this was the first time the All-Star Game had ever been played on the West Coast.
It was also the second All-Star Game of the season.
It’s true. It’s a testament to just how big the All-Star Game was that Major League Baseball held two different All-Star Games from 1959 to 1962. The second game was set aside to raise funds for the MLB player’s pension funds (owners were greedy back then too).
Dodger Stadium was still being built, so this game was played at LA Memorial Coliseum in front of 54,982. Dodgers legend Don Drysdale got the start but gave up homers to Yogi Berra and Frank Malzone.
Drysdale became first player ever to win an All-Star Game and lose an All-Star Game in the same year. He had won the first game at Forbes Field a month earlier.
The game had 18 Hall of Famers, but no MVP award yet. The NL made three errors in the seventh inning and lost 5-3.
Omen? The Dodgers won the World Series that year four games to two over the White Sox.
And MLB realized one All-Star Game per season was enough.
1980: Dad Knows Best
Dodger Stadium finally got to host an All-Star Game in 1980. The big controversy at the time was whether fans should be the ones choosing the players, or letting the players decide.
With fans choosing the players, there were some strange players showing up, thanks to ballot box stuffing, or newspapers would create pre-printed ballots for readers to clip and mail in.
Yes, this was a controversy.
Steve Stone made the start on the mound for the AL. Reggie Jackson batted fourth.
The NL had Dodger stars Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey and Bill Russell in the starting line-up. Pete Rose was a reserve.
The NL won 4-2, because back then the NL always won. This was their 10th win in a row over the AL. The streak would reach 12. The AL has dominated the last 20 years.
Ken Griffey Sr. blasted a homer to deep center field in the fifth inning and went 2-3 for the NL. He was named MVP. The game took (gulp) 2:33 to play.
Ken Griffey Jr. would homer in the 1992 All-Star Game making the Griffey’s the first father-son combination to each do so. Since then Bobby (1973) and Barry Bonds (1998 & 2002) and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2006) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2021) have joined the club.