Though it might come as a surprise, the Cleveland Indians have hosted the most All-Star games in Major League Baseball history, surpassing the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. While the New York area has hosted nine and Chicago seven, both cities are also home to multiple franchises. Cleveland’s celebrated history of hosting All-Star games can be traced back to 1911, 22 years before the first All-Star game in Chicago.
After star pitcher Addie Joss died of tuberculous meningitis, the baseball community rallied to raise money for his family. The result was a benefit game featuring the Cleveland Naps and an All-Star club of players from around the league. Hall of Famers Home Run Baker, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Walter Johnson, and Tris Speaker all participated on the All-Star team. A crowd of 15,281 packed into League Park and watched the All-Stars defeat the Naps 5-3.
After Chicago and New York hosted the first two official All-Star games, it was Cleveland’s turn. Boasting a new ballpark â Cleveland Municipal Stadium -- with a capacity of more than 70,000, the city was ready to host the game. Representing Cleveland on the AL All-Stars were Joe Vosmik (hitting leadoff and starting in right field), Mel Harder, and future hall of famer Earl Averill. Vosmik went 1-4 with a run, and Harder pitched one-hit ball over three innings for the save as the American League held on to a 4-1 lead to win. The recorded attendance was listed at 69,812. As of 2017 it is the second largest attendance at an All-Star game in baseball history.
Less than 20 years later, the two leagues were back and ready to play the 21st midsummer classic.Â Representing the Indians were Al Rosen, Bobby Avila, Larry Doby, Mike Garcia and Bob Lemon. The slugfest featured six combined home runs and 20 runs scored. Three of the six home runs were hit by Tribe batters (Rosen two, Doby one); in fact, it was the Cleveland players who carried the AL squad as they knocked in eight of the 11 runs. The attendance for the game was 69,751, which ranks as the third largest in All-Star Game history.
Nine years later, the stars of the baseball world descended upon Cleveland once again. The 1963 All-Star game was the first time in a Cleveland-hosted game that the National League emerged victorious, 5-3.Â Representing the Tribe was pitcher Mudcat Grant, who did not appear in the game. The game was attended by 44,160 fans.
The second All-Star game to ever take place in August, the 1981 game was almost not played due to the 1981 strike. When an agreement was reached on July 31, the league was positioned for an Aug. 9 rescheduled All-Star game. Behind the eight-ball, and a Browns preseason game, the grounds crew was able to pull off the feat of field prep in time for the game. Any doubt that fans would not be interested in baseball were erased when 72,086 packed Municipal Stadium for the largest All-Star game in baseball history. Throwing out the first pitch was future President George H.W. Bush. Representing the Tribe were Len Barker and Bo Diaz, both first time All-Stars. The American League fell to the National League 5-4.
The most recent time Cleveland played host was perhaps the most magical All-Star Game for Clevelanders. The Tribe was coming off two phenomenal seasons of 100 and 99 wins and hopes were high. Representing the home town were David Justice (voted as a starter), Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jim Thome.
Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Alomar stepped to the plate with two down and a runner in scoring position. Facing a 2-2 count, Alomar drove a pitch into the left field bleachers for the deciding blow. After the game, he was named the All-Star MVP award.
History is sure to be made once again when the Cleveland Indians host their sixth All-Star game in 2019!