In anticipation of the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim on Tuesday, July 13, the CBS Sports MLB Facts and Rumors blog looks back at some of the more memorable editions of the All-Star Game. Today looks at the 1949 All-Star Game.
Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Even though he won Rookie of the Year and improved in his sophomore season, however, it wasn't until 1949 that Robinson broke the color barrier in the All-Star Game. Robinson would go on to be named the MVP of the National League that season, finishing with 16 home runs, 12 triples, 37 stolen bases and a .342/.432/.528 line. He would eventually be named to six consecutive games.
Robinson wasn't alone in breaking the color barrier at the annual superstar game, however. Fellow Dodger Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe joined him in welcoming the All-Stars to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
Campanella was in his second season with the Dodgers behind the dish and named to the first of his eight consecutive games. While his first (out of three) MVP year was still two years in the future, the 27-year-old Campanella was having a fine 1949 with a .287/.385/.498 line. He was joined by Newcombe, who was enjoying a stellar campaign. Newcombe, like Robinson and Campanella, would also win an MVP, this time in 1956 along with a Cy Young Award. But back in 1949, he was in the middle of his Rookie of the Year campaign, winning 17 games while posting a 3.17 ERA in 244 1/3 innings.
Over on the American League's side, Larry Doby, who broke in later in the 1947 season to snap the color barrier in the AL, was also named to his first All-Star Game in 1949. He would finish '49 with a .280/.389/.468 line, slamming 24 home runs. His highest MVP finish was second in 1954 when he drilled 32 home runs and rapped in 126 RBI.
The AL would go on to thrash the NL 11-7, and Newcombe missed out on a chance to rack up more runs for the NL after hitting a liner when Ted Williams made a running catch with the bases loaded in the second inning. Joe DiMaggio, who was suffering a heel injury, hadn't played since June 28 (the game was held on July 12) and hadn't been elected by the fans, was crucial to the AL's victory by tallying a single, a double and three RBI. Asked why manager Lou Boudreau played DiMaggio, he simply replied "Joe DiMaggio is Joe DiMaggio." The victory pushed the AL to a 12-4 record in All-Star Games, as the NL was still years away from its run of dominance.
Robinson (pictured) went 1 for 4 with a walk, scoring three runs while batting second. Campanella did not start, but replaced Andy Seminick in the top of the fourth and was hitless in two at-bats but was intentionally walked in the bottom of the fifth to set up a force at first after Sid Gordon of the New York Giants doubled. Newcombe was saddled with the loss, entering the game with one out in the second inning. Warren Spahn left two runners on base for Newcombe, but the Dodger wiggled out of it. The AL finally got to Newcombe in the fourth, however, when Eddie Joost singled in George Kell and Williams with two out. At that point, the AL took the lead 6-4 and would not trail for the rest of the way.
Doby pinch ran for DiMaggio, who doubled in the sixth. Doby would bat in the seventh, grounding out to end the frame after the Junior Circuit scored three times.
No, there was no sexy play during the game that makes it stand the test of time, but what does stand the test of time is what the game meant to racial relations in America. Even though Robinson snapped the color barrier two years past, the advent of racial equality was still far off, and to have four African-American ballplayers come together and represent baseball's best was and is an important event in not just baseball's history, but America's as well.
-- Evan Brunell
More All-Star memories -- 2002: The Tie; 1941: Teddy Ballagame's walk-off homer
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