This week is Major League Baseball’s All Star week with festivities already underway in Cincinnati. The Summer Classic will be held on Tuesday, July 14th. Minor leagues have either held or will be holding their own All Star games, too.
The Southern Association All Star games were hosted by the city which was in first place on a certain day, often only a few days before the game was to be held. The league began the tradition in 1938. For example, by way of leading the league standings after games held on July 14th, Nashville hosted the 1957 All Star game at Sulphur Dell on July 17th.
The first event hosted by Nashville took place on July 8, 1940. The Southern Association All-Stars, with a 17-hit attack featuring home runs by Paul Richards and Rufe Hooks, defeated the Nashville Vols 6-1 at Sulphur Dell before a crowd of 5,500. Nashville’s Boots Poffenberger was the losing pitcher.
Three years later on July 9, 1943, Sulphur Dell was the venue for a second time as the Nashville Vols defeated the Southern Association All Stars, 3-2. Mel Hicks, Johnny Mihalic, and Whitey Platt of the home team garnered two hits apiece.
On July 20, 1948 Nashville hosted the Southern Association All Stars again at Sulphur Dell. Charlie Gilbert slammed a home run over the short right field fence in the twelfth inning to lead the Vols over the league’s stars 4-3. A crowd of 9,147 was in attendance.
The next season on July 12, 1949 the league All Stars crushed their hosts 18-6 at Sulphur Dell before 11,442 fans. Atlanta second baseman Davey Williams, already sold to the New York Giants, was five-for-five. Three of his hits were doubles as he scored four runs and participated in three double plays. Mobile’s George “Shotgun” Shuba slammed a three-run homer and Atlanta Crackers outfielder Lloyd Gearhart added a two-run home run.
Once again the Southern Association All Stars won over Nashville 7-6 on July 17, 1957. It was the first All Star game held at the home park of the second-place club at the time of the game, as the Vols had lost their first-place standing which earned them as host.
Before hosting rules or fan selection were implemented, choosing an All Star team was common place among sportswriters. Nashville’s Grantland Rice picked his own in August of 1910 for the Southern Association season when New Orleans would win that season’s pennant:
Syd Smith, Atlanta
Rowdy Elliott, Birmingham
Harry Coveleski, Birmingham
Otto Hess, New Orleans
Frank Allen, Memphis
Tom Fisher, Atlanta
Bill Schwartz, Nashville
Dutch Jordan, Atlanta
Steve Yerkes, Chattanooga
Frank Manush, New Orleans
Jud Daley, Montgomery
Shoeless Joe Jackson, New Orleans
Bobby Messenger, Birmingham
© Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.