Ted Williams

July 9, 1957 – The 24th All-Star Game at St. Louis, Missouri

On July 9, 1957, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Sportman’s Park in St. Louis, Missouri, home of the National League St. Louis Cardinals.  Controversy surrounded the game as Cincinnati Reds’ fans stuffed the ballot box and sent all but one of their starting players to the 24th playing of the midseason exhibition game.  The Cincinnati Enquirer printed up pre-marked ballots for fans to send in; as a result, over half of the final vote tally originated from the Reds’ hometown.

New York Giant Willie Mays and Milwaukie Brave Hank Aaron were appointed by Commissioner Ford Frick to replace two Reds’ players.  Voting procedures changed as well – player selections were made by managers, players, and coaches until 1970, after which time fans were once again allowed to nominate their favorites.

Revenge was sweet as the American League team defeated the National League, 6-5, after an action-packed ninth inning which began with the AL team ahead 3-2.  In the top of the inning, a single,a  fumble, a sacrifice, another single and a double brought the score to 6-2 for the AL.  The NL followed with a walk, a triple, a wild pitch, a single and another walk, a strike out, another single, a runner out at third on a steal, and then a pinch hit caught in left-center. It wasn’t enough to overcome outstanding fielding by the American League stars, who were able to squeak out their second win in eight years.

The starting lineups:

American League
1. Harvey Kuenn, Tigers, SS
2. Nellie Fox, White Sox, 2B
3. Al Kaline, Tigers, RF
4. Mickey Mantle, Yankees, CF
5. Ted Williams, Red Sox, LF
6. Vic Wertz, Indians, 1B
7. Yogi Berra, Yankees, C
8. George Kell, Orioles, 3B
9. Jim Bunning, Tigers, P
Manager: Casey Stengel

National League
1. Johnny Temple, Reds, 2B
2. Hank Aaron, Braves, RF
3. Stan Musial, Cardinals, 1B
4. Willie Mays, Giants, CF
5. Ed Bailey, Reds, C
6. Frank Robinson, Reds, LF
7. Don Hoak, Reds, 3B
8. Roy McMillan, Reds, SS
9. Curt Simmons, Phillies, P
Manager: Walter Alston

Image Credit: Wikimedia Fair Use

June 13, 1957 – Red Sox Immortal Ted Williams Blasts 3 More

Ted Williams

The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived

On June 13, 1957, at age 39 and three years from retirement, Boston Red Sox’s temperamental virtuoso left fielder Ted Williams set an AL record by hitting three home runs in a single game for the second time in the season.  His first three-home-run game had been played on May 8.  Ted spent his 21 year baseball career at Boston, 16 of those years in left field guarding the Green Monster.  Joe DiMaggio said of Williams that he was “the best pure hitter I ever saw.”

Ted’s 1957 batting average of 0.388 led the AL.  He was named the AL Most Valuable Player twice, and also won the Triple Crown twice.  Williams interrupted his career to serve as a Marine-commissioned Navy pilot during World War II and the Korean War.  He was quoted as saying, “The greatest team I played for was the Marine Corps.”

Image Credit: Ted Sande/AP

Vintage 1957 – Near-Mint Near-Complete 1957 Topps Baseball Card Set

1957 Topps Mickey Mantle-Yogi Berra card. Photo: Sports Collectors Daily.

1957 Topps Mickey Mantle-Yogi Berra card. Photo: Sports Collectors Daily.

Attention, baseball card collectors! Rich Mueller at Sports Collectors Daily recently announced that a near-mint, near-complete set of 1957 Topps baseball cards will be put up for auction on eBay. Just Collect is planning to sell, piece by piece, a rare grouping of almost 400 cards obtained from a private collector which Mueller claims would rank “among the 50 best All-Time Finest sets on the PSA Set Registry.”

Topps made significant changes to their card line in 1957. They adopted the standard size still in use today and, rather than using both photo and artwork portraits, switched to photo-only shots of MLB’s Boys of Summer. Our banner year, 1957, is also notable for collectors in that it was a year in which many greats were playing, joined by a swath of soon-to-be-famous rookies. And 1957 was the last year that the Giants played in Gotham and the Dodgers owned Brooklyn.

Collectible baseball cards are rated on a score from 1 to 10. Each card is examined for its centering (how well did the printer do?), corners (how worn are the four points?), creases (did the card get bent or folded?), and surface (are there wrinkles, scratches, warping, damage, bubbles, marks, stains, or notches?).  A rating of ten is extremely rare, and means “taken off the printing press with tweezers and hermetically sealed” (I’m only slightly joking).  On the other end of the scale, a one rating would probably mean that the printing press was in dire need of a tune-up and a teething toddler with cotton candy got hold of the card (again, just a little exaggeration). All the cards in this 1957 collection have been rated a 7 “Near Mint”.

A few big names are missing in the collection, notably Red Sox immortal Ted Williams and  a regular issue of Yankee Mickey Mantle, winner of the Triple Crown in 1956. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, and Roy Campanella are there, along with rookies Brooks Robinson, Rocky Colavito, Don Drysdale, and Bill Mazeroski. Numerous commons, multi-player, minor stars, and team cards also add to the set.

I acquired my love of baseball when I married into the Red Sox nation at age 21. Now I can’t help but wonder about the identity of the persistent baseball card lover who amassed this treasure trove. Were they born in 1957, too?