The buzz for the 2016 All-Star Game is all about a National League starting infield of the Chicago Cubs and a half dozen Boston Red Sox on the American League roster. Flashback to 1939 and Yankee Stadium and there is plenty of buzz about that time.
It was only the seventh All-Star Game ever played. Yankee Stadium was selected as the site in order for it to link in with the 1939 New York City World’s Fair. A box seat ticket for the All-Star Game cost $2.20. Bleacher seats were 55 cents. One could buy a scorecard for a nickel.
Just the week before “Lou Gehrig Day” had been staged at the Stadium. Now the “Iron Horse” was on hand as an honorary member of the American League team.
“It was a beautiful day,” Bob Feller remembered. “Not too hot, but warm enough. It was just a beautiful day at Yankee Stadium.”
There were 62,892 jammed into the big ballpark in the Bronx. When the American League lineup was announced, a fan sceamed out: “Make Joe McCarthy play an All-Star American League team. We can beat them, but we can’t beat the Yankees.”
Six starters were Yankees – Red Rolfe, Bill Dickey, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon, Red Ruffing and Joe DiMaggio. With manager Joe McCarthy, and non-starters Frank Crosetti, Lefty Gomez and Johnny Murphy, there were ten Yankees on the All-Star team. Eleven, if Lou Gehrig was counted.
The SRO crowd was especially charged up seeing Yankee favorite hurler Red Ruffing start the game and all position starters play the entire contest. Joe DiMaggio’s homer run highlighted the 3-1 American League triumph in a game that took just one hour and 55 minutes to play. Times sure have changed.
After the All-Star break, the Yanks went on a tear winning 35 of 49 games. The “Yankee Clipper” finished first in batting average, second in RBIs and third in home runs. Bill Dickey, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio drove in more than 100 runs each. The Yankees led the American League in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, walks, runs, and fielding percentage.
Allowing nearly 150 runs fewer than any other team in the league, the Yankees outscored their opponents by 411, a greater run differential than any other team in history. They took the pennant finishing 17 games ahead of second place Boston. No wonder they had so many players on that 1939 All Star team.
Dr. Harvey Frommer, a professor at Dartmouth College in the MALS program, is in his 40th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, he is the author of 42 sports books including the classics: best-selling “New York City Baseball, 1947-1957″ and best-selling Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,as well as his acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park. His highly praised When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl was published last fall.
His Frommer Baseball Classic – Remembering Yankee Stadium (Second Edition) is his newest sports effort.A link to purchase autographed copies of Frommer Sports Books is at: http://frommerbooks.com/
The prolific author is at work on THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK (2017)