|Date||July 8, 1941|
|Ceremonial first pitch||None|
|Radio||Mutual, CBS, WWJ, WXYZ|
|Radio announcers||Red Barber, Bob Elson (Mutual) |
Mel Allen, France Laux (CBS)
Ty Tyson (WWJ)
Harry Heilmann (WXYZ)
The 1941 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the ninth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 8, 1941, at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, the home of the Detroit Tigers of the American League.
The American League defeated the National League, 7–5. With the NL leading 5–4, two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees on base; Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox hit a walk-off home run off of Claude Passeau of the Chicago Cubs to win it for the AL.
Prior to Williams' at-bat DiMaggio hit a potential game-ending double play groundball. However, Billy Herman’s relay throw pulled first baseman Frank McCormick off the bag, thus extending the game and setting up Williams' at-bat.
In the end, the AL's dramatic 7–4 walk-off win overshadowed two home runs hit by Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Arky Vaughan, which had given the NL 3–2 and 5–2 leads in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively.
Bob Feller (Cleveland, AL) and Whit Wyatt (Brooklyn, NL) pitched three and two scoreless innings, respectively, to start the game. Neither team put a runner in scoring position until the fourth inning, when doubles by Cecil Travis (Washington) and Ted Williams off Paul Derringer (Cincinnati) put the AL ahead 1–0.
Bucky Waters (Cincinnati) led off the sixth inning with a double. A bunt by Stan Hack (Chicago Cubs) moved Waters to third and a sacrifice fly by Terry Moore (St. Louis Cardinals) tied the game at 1–1.
The AL answered in the bottom half of the same inning when Cleveland shortstop Lou Boudreau (who had entered the game for Joe Cronin) singled home Joe DiMaggio for a 2–1 AL lead.
The top halves of the seventh and eighth innings saw the heroics of Arky Vaughan, who hit a two-run home run in each to also score two St. Louis Cardinals players: Enos Slaughter, who had opened the seventh inning with a single, and Johnny Mize, who had preceded Vaughan's round-tripper in the eighth with a one-out double.
With the score now 5–2 in favor of the National League the first pair of brothers to ever appear together in an All-Star Game cut into the NL lead, when Dominic DiMaggio – in his first plate appearance of the game – singled home Joe after his one-out double.
In the ninth inning, White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith, who had given up one of Vaughan's home runs, retired the NL in order in his second inning of work. One of the three NL hitters to step to the plate that half-inning was pitcher Claude Passeau, who – with his team trailing 5–3 – was not pulled for a pinch hitter, and thus returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth for his third inning of work. (The only position player left on the NL bench, Cookie Lavagetto, was inserted as a pinch hitter one batter after Passeau's at-bat.)
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, three consecutive AL batters reached base, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base and bringing Joe DiMaggio to the plate. The “Yankee Clipper” then hit what some sources describe as a routine double-play groundball, which would have ended the ballgame. However, the relay throw from second to first by Billy Herman pulled first baseman Frank McCormick off the bag and extended the game.
With the NL still leading 5–4 (a run had scored on DiMaggio's groundout), the AL now had the tying run on third and the winning run on first. Not electing to walk Ted Williams, which would have advanced the winning run to second base and brought Dominic DiMaggio to the plate, NL manager Bill McKechnie, let Claude Passeau pitch to Ted Williams. With the count two balls and one strike Williams hit a three-run home run off the third deck of the right field stands of Detroit's Briggs Stadium for a 7–5 American League victory.
The 1941 All Star Game took place in the midst of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (but did not count towards it, since the All Star Game is considered an exhibition game). DiMaggio had equaled the all-time record of 44 games, set by Willie Keeler in 1897, seven days prior to the All Star Game and broken it the day after that (July 1 and 2, respectively). The streak would end nine days after the All Star Game, when DiMaggio went hitless on July 17 against the Cleveland Indians.
Ted Williams, whose batting average was at .405 at the time of the All Star Game, would even slightly improve on that hitting pace for the rest of the season and end the 1941 campaign at .406, making him the last hitter to reach the .400 mark for a season.
The 1941 baseball season, of which the All Star Game marked the halfway point, took place right before the United States would enter World War II. The juxtaposition of that memorable season taking place with the war looming is illustrated in the book Baseball in ’41 by renowned sportswriter Robert Creamer. Although the Major League season and the World Series would continue to be played during the war years, the All Star Game was cancelled in 1945 due to war-time travel restrictions.
The fact that Arky Vaughan was eventually denied the accolades of being the player of the game despite his two home runs can be seen as symbolic of his entire career: Despite arguably being the preeminent offensive shortstop of his time, hitting .300 or higher in 12 of his 14 Major League seasons, Vaughan wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1985 (posthumously, by the Veterans Committee, nearly four decades after his last major league appearance) and is not remembered as vividly as many of the other stars of this era.
Players in italics have since been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
|Home Plate||Bill Summers||American|
|First Base||Lou Jorda||National|
|Second Base||Bill Grieve||American|
|Third Base||Babe Pinelli||National|
The umpires changed assignments in the middle of the fifth inning – Summers and Pinelli swapped positions, also Jorda and Grieve swapped positions.
|National League||American League|
|1||Stan Hack||Cubs||3B||1||Bobby Doerr||Red Sox||2B|
|2||Terry Moore||Cardinals||LF||2||Cecil Travis||Senators||3B|
|3||Pete Reiser||Dodgers||CF||3||Joe DiMaggio||Yankees||CF|
|4||Johnny Mize||Cardinals||1B||4||Ted Williams||Red Sox||LF|
|5||Bill Nicholson||Cubs||RF||5||Jeff Heath||Indians||RF|
|6||Arky Vaughan||Pirates||SS||6||Joe Cronin||Red Sox||SS|
|7||Lonny Frey||Reds||2B||7||Rudy York||Tigers||1B|
|8||Mickey Owen||Dodgers||C||8||Bill Dickey||Yankees||C|
|9||Whit Wyatt||Dodgers||P||9||Bob Feller||Indians||P|
|WP: Eddie Smith (1–0) LP: Claude Passeau (0–1)|
NL: Arky Vaughan (2)
AL: Ted Williams (1)