Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All-Star mementos for 1950 varied by league

For his participation in the 1950 All-Star Game, Joe DiMaggio
chose a silver cigarette box from among the mementos offered
to American League players.

            The 1950 All-Star Game, won 4-3 by the National League on a Red Schoendienst home run in the top of the 14th inning, was the longest All-Star Game to that point in baseball history.
            Besides being the first A-S contest to go into extra innings, the 17th midsummer classic played at Comiskey Park set a new high in ticket-take of $126,179.51 on an attendance of 46,127.
            Baseball writers and fans called it the most exciting All-Star Game in the history of the extravaganza.
            Among the post-game coverage in the July 19 Sporting News, I spotted an interesting sidebar detailing the mementos received by the players.
            According to the article, American League players had a choice of four trophies to mark their participation. It was reported that 80% of the American Leaguers chose a clock-barometer, though they also had their choice of a sterling silver ice bucket, a sterling silver cigarette box or a watch.
            The National League at that time had a “sliding scale” of trophies for its players, depending on how many All-Star Games they been had selected for.
As a second-time All-Star in 1950, Jackie Robinson received
an engraved plaque from the National League.
            First-time All-Stars received a gold watch. Two-time participants got a plaque. Third-year All-Stars received a silver cigarette box. The fourth time was good for a gold tie clasp. Five-time All-Stars were given a gold belt buckle. Appearing a sixth time was worth a silver pocket cigarette case, while a seven-time player was awarded a gold cigarette lighter. The prevalence of cigarette smoking accouterments was an interesting reflection of the culture of the times.
            The National League had a special situation in 1950, when Boston Braves catcher Walker Cooper appeared in his eighth All-Star Game. He was asked what he would like as a memento. He asked for, and received, a suitably engraved shotgun.
            Ted Williams also got a special remembrance of the 1950 game . . . a cast for his left elbow, which he broke in the first inning crashing into the left field wall chasing down a Ralph Kiner blast. Despite the injury, Williams continued in the game until the top of the ninth inning, by which time he had delivered the hit that put the A.L. into a 3-2 lead that they held until Kiner’s homer tied it in the ninth.
            With Williams out of action until Sept. 7 after his elbow was operated on, the Red Sox finished third in the A.L.
The 1950 All-Star Game in Chicago set a
record for ticket sales receipts.

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