This article was written by Bob Muldoon
This article was published in Fall 2022 Baseball Research Journal
In 2018, a country auction in Maine handling the estate of major leaguer Harry Lord put a photograph up for bid they touted as the “First Ever All-Star Game.”1 The 1910 photo pictured an American League team of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, Big Ed Walsh, and ten others including Lord, the former Red Sox captain just traded to Chicago—all in their respective uniforms. The manager, in a bowler hat, was the Washington Nationals’ Jimmy McAleer. The photo sold for $6,063.
But was this really the first All-Star team—or just hype and hoopla to raise bidding?
The first official All-Star Game, American versus National League, was in 1933.2 But an earlier unofficial all-star game was the Addie Joss Benefit Game on July 24, 1911, when an American League All-Star team beat the Cleveland Naps, 5–3, and raised $12,914 for the widow and children of Nap’s pitcher Joss, who had died months before of tubercular meningitis at age 31.
Baseball Almanac calls the 1911 Joss Benefit Game the “first ‘All-Star’ game in Major League history.”3 The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown tags it “the first game of its kind.”4 SABR member John Husman simply notes: “The game demonstrated the public appetite for an all-star game—an appetite that would not be sated for another 22 years.”5
But the photograph taken in October 1910 documents an event ten months earlier, when an American League All-Star team played the American League Champion Philadelphia Athletics in a five-game series intended to keep the A’s sharp before the World Series, a week away.
And, so, if an All-Star Game must be, like the Joss game, nine innings, with at least one team having a mix of either American League or National League stars—this game happened earlier.6,7 Also, if the starting point must be 1901, when the American League joined the National as a major league, then we must include the barnstorming games in which a team of American League All-Stars played a team of National League All-Stars, for example October 17, 1902, in Iowa, and October 19 and 20 in Omaha.8
Although the marketing claims of the auction house turn out to be exaggerated, the existence of the series was unique in other aspects and notably included nine future Hall of Famers. A scheduling quirk created the opportunity for these games. To capitalize on Columbus Day, the National League in 1910 finished a week later than the American League. In fact, the Athletics finished on October 6, while the National champion Chicago Cubs played on until October 15. The A’s would have 11 idle days before the World Series began on October 17. To keep his team sharp, manager Connie Mack, “The Tall Tactician,” scheduled a series against the All-Stars.
The series came about during a “casual conversation” between Mack and McAleer earlier in the season.9 “Mack pointed out it would be a hardship for his team to be idle a week and then hope to be on edge for the big games with the Cubs.”10 Furthermore, Mack emphasized, “Games against minor league teams would be useless for what we needed were contests with powerful opponents.”11
McAleer agreed to assemble and manage a team (dubbed “All-Stars” or “McAleer’s All-Stars”). In addition to the four Hall of Famers and Lord—the “brainy” Bates College third baseman who would be named White Sox captain days later12—the team included southpaw Doc White (Chi); catchers Gabby Street (Wash) and Billy Sullivan (Chi); infielders Jake Stahl (Bos), George McBride, Kid Elberfeld and Bill Cunningham (all Wash); outfielders Germany Schaefer and Clyde “Deerfoot” Milan (Wash).13 Lord, himself, as Red Sox captain in 1909, had batted fourth in the league in average at .315, with 36 stolen bases. In 1911, as White Sox captain, he would do even better: .321 with 43 steals.
“This is the greatest team ever got together,” McAleer crowed.14 “Every Player Is a Star,” trumpeted a headline.15 And if all that was not enough, “We have the only two catchers that caught a ball from on (top of) the Washington Monument…Street and myself,” Sullivan added immodestly.16
“If Connie Mack’s men can show any decisive superiority over this outfit, they will beat the Cubs to a moral certainty,” a columnist noted.17 But he had his doubts: “If there is any advantage in a season of harmonious teamwork, the Athletics have that, the sole particular in which they seem to have anything on the foe.”18
But no one considered a downside to the All-Star Series. What if the Athletics got drubbed or injured? Would their World Series chances then suffer against the Cubs, winners of 104 games, under playing manager Frank Chance? No one was asking those questions.
A few American League stars were missing. A City Series in New York between the Highlanders (AL) and Giants (NL), and one in Ohio between Cleveland (AL) and Cincinnati (NL), had syphoned off Nap Lajoie, Addie Joss, and young Shoeless Joe Jackson. Notwith-standing these omissions, the Stars comprised “one of the most powerful aggregates ever assembled on one club.”19 Four games were slated for Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and one in American League Park in Washington.20 In short, five games on consecutive days with admissions split 50/50 between both teams.
Days before, a baseball controversy erupted. Before the season, the Chalmers Automobile Company had announced it would award cars to batting champions in both leagues. Skipping the final two games against the Chicago White Sox with a comfortable cushion, Cobb finished at .385. But as Cobb sat, Lajoie went 8-for-8 on the last day in a St. Louis double-header—blurring their final averages to statistical confusion: .384944 (Cobb) to .384084 (Lajoie).21
Word spread quickly that Browns manager Jack O’Connor had positioned his third baseman on the outfield grass, allowing Lajoie to bunt six times, and thwart the unpopular Cobb’s quest for the title. O’Connor defended the tactic crudely: “Now, really, you never heard of any infielder playing in for that big frog-eater (French Canadian), did you?”22 Third baseman John Corriden, accused of “assisting materially in fattening Lajoie’s average,”23 insisted he played back in mortal fear of “a broken nose or lost teeth,”24 adding dramatically, “I want to remain in baseball for some years. I was not going to get killed playing in for Lajoie.”25
Meanwhile, Cobb had other car problems, missing the All-Star Series opener on Tuesday, October 11. “Ty Cobb was automobiling from Detroit to Philadelphia but he met up with an accident to his machine near Kingston, New York, which prevented him from reaching Philadelphia in time to get to the ballpark.”26
Without Cobb, the All-Stars still pounded 15 hits to win, 8–3, before 5000 fans. Everyone in the lineup, except Germany Schaefer, Cobb’s replacement, had a hit. Mack split the pitching evenly among his three aces Chief Bender (23–5 in 1910), Eddie Plank (16–10), and “Colby Jack” Coombs (31–9). The All-Stars countered with Walter Johnson (25–17, 313 strikeouts) who had eight strikeouts and allowed seven hits. The fleet-footed Lord rapped a single off Coombs and scored in a three-run seventh that sealed the win.27
But even in defeat, scribes lauded Mack’s philosophy behind the series: “If our champions put in the rest of the week slamming with pitchers like Walter Johnson and Big Ed Walsh, their batting eyes ought to get all the tuning up that the average batting eye can stand at one dose, and those Cubs pitchers are apt to think they have strayed into the cyclone belt when they butt into us in the big cream next week.”28
For Philadelphia, Home Run Baker (.283), Stuffy McInnis (.301) and 37-year-old Harry Davis (.248) each banged out two hits. That evening, B.F. Keith’s Theatre hosted both teams at a special “Baseball Night.”29
Next day, newly arrived Cobb and Big Ed Walsh (18–20, 258 strikeouts) led the All-Stars to a 5–1 win before only 2800 fans. “Ty Cobb was the bright and shining star today, gathering three hits, two of which were doubles. He ran the bases like a whirlwind, giving one of the greatest exhibitions we ever saw.”30 Again, Mack divided the pitching among his aces— Bender allowing no runs, Plank three and Coombs two. “Bender was near his best form…with a couple days rest he should be in championship form.”31
The Athletics’ run came on a ninth inning triple by Collins (.324), who scored on a grounder. Baker added 2 more hits. But the loss came at a cost. Outfielder Rube Oldring sprained his knee on a Speaker liner lost in the sun. Oldring, top 10 in the league in batting average (.308), hits (168), doubles (27), triples (14), and homers (4), was lost for the World Series. The savants and cracker barrel philosophers chimed in: “Again it was shown today that an all star team of brains will defeat any average team, regardless of the length of time the stars have been playing together.” 32
After the game, Cobb challenged Collins and “Deerfoot” Milan to a race around the bases to crown the league’s fastest man. “Cobb declared he would make his opponents look like a canceled postage stamp.”33 It is no surprise that Cobb, who liked to win, did not extend the challenge to Lord, once the leader of Boston’s “Speed Boys,” timed months before in 3.2 seconds from home to first, to win a skills competition on “Doc” Powers Day.34
Before 3500 fans at Shibe Park, the Stars won their third straight, 6–2, behind Doc White (15–13), who pitched a shutout through eight innings. Mack split the pitching this time with Bender, Coombs, and Harry Krause (6-6) now replacing Plank. Lord, “the best third sacker of Ban Johnson’s (American League) organization,”35 contributed a single, a sacrifice, and a double play in the field. With Philadelphia losing three straight, an injury to Oldring, and with Plank now fading, Mack might well have doubted himself as the team boarded the train to Washington for game four.36
Off the field, heated rhetoric surrounded the batting title fiasco. One headline blared: “Lajoie Shooed in, Ty Cobb is Yellow.”37 The story claimed Cobb “quit cold” after he thought he had the automobile won. After driving a ball to Chicago outfielder Bobby Messenger, Lord’s former Bates College teammate, who slipped and fell in mud, Cobb had checked with the official scorers.38 “When he found out that he had been given a hit, he smiled and started to pack his grip.”39 A scribe declared: “Ty Cobb has a yellow streak as broad as his back.”40
Game four, before a crowd of 8000 in Washington, was a showcase for Johnson, who led the All-Stars to a 4–1 win. Cobb, catching Johnson in warm-ups, unfurled his usual bravado: “You see how good the Athletics look, don’t you? Well, when we get out there we will look just about 50 percent better; they haven’t a chance in the world of beating us.”41 He was right.
A fourth straight Philadelphia loss was concerning: “…[T]he showing of the Athletics was such to make the followers of the American League champions have grave fears as to the outcome of the world series…all in all the Athletics did not resemble a championship team in any way, shape or form.”42 Meanwhile, the Cubs, with 104 wins, were taking three of four from the Cardinals.
In Philadelphia, the anxiety was mounting. Had “The Tall Tactician” outsmarted himself with this maneuver? Was the All-Star series backfiring and demoralizing the AL Champs? Pundits thought so: “Mack’s players seem to be awe-stricken at the strength of their opponents.”43
A photo of the All-Star team appeared next day with the caption: “THE ESTIMATED VALUE OF THIS TEAM IS $286,000.”44 This newspaper image turned out to be the Harry Lord Auction Photo that sold for $6,063 in 2018. A headline declared that the Series was now exploding in Mack’s face: “Poor Showing of Mack’s Team Strengthens Cub’s Chances in World Series—Public Sentiment Appears to be with Cubs.”45
In Washington, the game’s subplot had been how Johnson would fare behind a talented team. In his four seasons, the “Senators” had finished last or next to it every time. “People…have been wont to wonder how the city’s favorite slinger, Johnson, would finish a season if backed by a (strong) team…”46 Winning his second game in the All-Star Series, “Johnson was invincible until the ninth, when he let down and doubles by Collins and Baker netted a run.”47 Mack rested his aces and split the pitching chores with Cy Morgan (18–12) and spitballer Jimmy Dygert (4–4).
The Athletics, at last, almost mercifully, won the finale in Philadelphia on Saturday, 3–0, with Bender, Plank, and Coombs combining for a three-hitter. “Big” Ed Walsh scattered five hits in defeat, but Mainer Harry Lord skipped the last game to appear in an exhibition between his White Sox and minor leaguers in Portland.48 He had just been named captain of Chicago for the 1911 season.49
And so, on a high note, Philadelphia had Sunday off before the World Series started Monday. The Cubs, who beat St. Louis that Saturday, boarded a special 7:30 train for Philadelphia, leaving Union Station “as the second section of the Pennsylvania limited” along with most wives and “the scribes who are lucky or unlucky enough to draw the assignment.”50
Let history show that Philadelphia won the 1910 World Series four games to one, but without Oldring and Plank, before crowds averaging 25,000, with Coombs winning three and Collins and outfielder Danny Murphy leading the attack.51 At a special presentation before the second game, Cobb and Lajoie each were awarded Chalmers automobiles, ending the bitter batting controversy.52
Despite the four humbling losses (combined score 23–7) to the greatest collection of baseball talent ever assembled, Mack so liked the benefits of the All-Star Series that he used it again the following season. And the Athletics then won the 1911 World Series, this time against the New York Giants, four games to two.
Harry Lord left Chicago in 1914 in a salary dispute, managed in the Federal League for a Buffalo team known as “Harry Lord’s Fighting Federal League Team,” returned to Maine, played in the Eastern League, coached Bates College in 1918 during World War I, ran a coal and grocery business in Portland, served in the legislature, and died in 1948, at age 66. After his grandson died in 2018, his widow put some dusty memorabilia up for auction—including a long-forgotten photo of the “First Ever All-Star Game” in 1910.53
BOB MULDOON is the author of the historical fiction novel Brass Bonanza Plays Again, wherein Rube Waddell appears as guardian angel to star-crossed, homeless goon Tiger Burns, of the late, lamented Hartford Whalers. In doing so, star-crossed Rube redeems himself for the infamous 1905 “straw hat incident” (in which he missed the World Series due to injuring his shoulder while tussling over the hat). The book is available from the author at MuldoonRA@gmail.com.
This piece is dedicated to my late brother Michael Muldoon, a 35-year sports writer for the Lawrence (MA) Eagle-Tribune, who always teased me about my love of old baseball—especially Rube Waddell and Ossee Schreckengost and the animal crackers in bed.
In addition to cited sources, the author used Baseball-Reference.com and an online Bates College News article he wrote about Harry Lord ’08 (https://www.bates.edu/news/2020/10/20/meet-headstrong-harry-lord-bates-lord-of-the-baseball-diamond/)
1. David Sharp, ”Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale,” Associated Press, August 12, 2018. https://apnews.com/article/37b9f589730149deb82fea44d9fdb49a The auction photo originally appeared in the Washington Star, October 15, 1910: 8.
2. Lyle Spatz, “July 6, 1933: A Dream Realized: Comiskey Park hosts first All-2 Star Game; Babe Ruth homers,” SABR Games Project: https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/july-6-1933-a-dream-realized.
3. “Addie Joss All Star Game,” Baseball Almanac: https://www.baseballalmanac.com/tsn/addie_joss_benefit_game.shtml.
4. Addie Joss, National Baseball Hall of Fame website: https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/joss-addie.
5. John R. Husman, “Addie Joss Day: An All-Star Celebration,” from Baseball in Cleveland (SABR, 1990): https://sabr.org/journal/article/addie-joss-day-an-all-star-celebration/.
6. On June 30, 1910, a six-inning game and skills competition was held at 6 Shibe Park for Doc Powers, who had died on April 26, 1909. The game was described as “horse play” between an “All-American” team and Philadelphia. See Robert D. Warrington, “A Ballpark Opens and A Ballplayer Dies: The Converging Fates of Shibe Park and Doc Powers,” Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2014: https://sabr.org/journal/article/a-ballpark-opens-and-a-ballplayer-dies-the-converging-fates-of-shibe-park-and-doc-powers.
7. John Thorn points to the 3 fashion Race Course Contests of 1858 when “picked nines” from New York played against stars from Brooklyn as the first All-Star game. But this fails our definition because the players were not from the American or National League. Thorn also cites a 1903 game in the Class D Hudson River League: https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/baseballs-first-all-star-game-4fcda47ecab2.
8. Addie Joss and Jack Chesbro were the starting pitchers in the Iowa contest, part of a midwestern barnstorming tour. “Rain Spoils Ball Game,” Marshalltown (Iowa) Evening Times-Republican, October, 18, 1902, 7. See also “All Star Base Ball Teams,” Omaha Daily Bee, October 18, 1902, 4.
9. “All-Star Team to Keep Athletics on Edge for Bubs,” Pensacola (Florida) News Journal, October 8, 1910: 2.
10. “All-Star Team to Keep Athletics on Edge.”
11. “All-Star Team to Keep Athletics on Edge.”
12. “Harry Lord To Be Manager,” Birmingham Times, September 15, 1911: 6.
13. “Harry Lord Captain,” Lewiston Sun-Journal, October 18, 1910: 7.
14. Doc White, “Athletics Fall Before Walsh,” Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1910: 19.
15. “All-Star Team to Keep Athletics on Edge for Bubs,” Pensacola News Journal, October 8, 1910: 2.
16. J. Ed Grillo, “A’s Are Outclassed By McAleer’s All-Star Team,” Washington Star, October 15, 1910: 8.
17. “Wray’s Column,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 8, 1910: 6.
18. “Wray’s Column.”
19. ”All-Star Team to Keep Athletics on Edge.”
20. “Ty Cobb Wins Auto Prize,” Washington Herald, October 15, 1910: 11.
21. “The Buzz Car Goes To Ty Cobb,” Chanute (Kansas) Tribune, October 17, 1910: 5.
22. “What’s being said about Larry’s Hit,” Washington Herald, October 14, 1910: 8.
23. “Corriden Not To Blame,” Kansas City Times, October 15, 1910: 12.
24. “Says Corriden,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 12, 1910: 10.
25. “Says Corriden.”
26. “All-Stars 8, Athletics 3, 26 ” Boston Globe, October 12, 1910: 6.
27. In 1905, Lord played third base at Bates College, in Maine, while Coombs pitched for rival Colby. But the two never faced each other, as Lord dropped off the Bates team in June to play for a team in Portland (for pay), just days before the Colby game. History was deprived of seeing the two future major league stars battle in college. But Lord won the battle on this day!
28. Jim Nasium, “Pick of A.L. Teams Clean Up Mackies,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 12, 1910: 10.
29. “Champions Guests at Keiths,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 12, 1910: 10.
30. Doc White, “Athletics Fall Before Walsh,” Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1910: 19.
31. White, “Athletics Fall Before Walsh.”
32. White, “Athletics Fall Before Walsh.”
33. White, “Athletics Fall Before Walsh.”
34. “Benefit Contest Draws Thousands,” Washington Herald, July 1, 1910: 8 Note: “Doc” Powers Day included several skills competitions, and a six-inning exhibition game that could perhaps stake a small claim as an early All-Star game, but was only 6 innings and described as “horseplay.”
35. “Cobb Is Most Valuable Player in Baseball,” Vancouver Daily World, October 15, 1910: 15.
37. “Lajoie Shooed in, Ty Cobb is Yellow,” Washington Star, October 12, 1910: 12.
38. Messenger attended Bates College with Harry Lord in 1904–05, and the small college had two future major leaguers in the same football backfield. Both men were speedsters in the majors, with Lord winning a speed competition in 3.2 seconds from home to first (bunting), and Messenger winning a 100-yard dash in 11 seconds at Comiskey Park in 1911. Bates’ 1904 record was 5–3–1, including an 11–0 loss to Harvard, and a 0–0 tie with Holy Cross with future Red Sox player (and Lord teammate) Bill Carrigan. Bob Muldoon, “Meet Headstrong Harry Bates,” October 20, 2020, Bates College News, Bates.edu: https://www.bates.edu/news/2020/10/20/meet-headstrongharry-lord-bates-lord-of-the-baseball-diamond.
39. “Lajoie Shooed in, Ty Cobb is Yellow,” Washington Star, October 12, 1910: 12.
40. “Lajoie Shooed in, Ty Cobb is Yellow.” (quoting John Doe in the Cleveland Press).
41. “Ty Cobb Wins Auto Prize,” Washington Herald, October 15, 1910: 11.
42. J. Ed Grillo, “A’s Are Outclassed By McAleer’s All-Star Team,” Washington Star, October 15, 1910: 8.
43. Grillo, “A’s Are Outclassed.”
44. “The Estimated Value of this team is $286,000,” Washington Star, October 15, 1910: 8.
45. “The Estimated Value of this 45 team is $286,000.”
46. Joe. S. Jackson, “Sporting Facts and Fancies,” Washington Post, October 12, 1910: 8.
47. J. Ed Grillo, “A’s Are Outclassed By McAleer’s All-Star Team,” Washington Star, October 15, 1910: 8.
48. “Many Will Go To See The Stars,” Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal, October 18, 1910: 10 Note: The White Sox player Bobby Messenger, of Maine and Bates, also was slated to appear.
49. “Harry Lord Captain,” Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal, October 18, 1910: 7.
50. “Ty Cobb Wins Auto Prize,” Washington Herald, October 15, 1910: 11.
51. Johnny Evers of the Cubs missed the World Series with a broken ankle.
52. Next season the Chalmers Automobile went to the league MVPs. John O’Connor was released as Manager of the St. Louis Browns on October 16, 1910, and never appeared in the Major Leagues again.
53. Email, October 13, 2022, from Lord’s granddaughter, Deb McCleery.