All-Star Games of 1858

From SABR member Brian McKenna at Glimpses Into Baseball History on June 7:

Baseball contests during the 1840s and 1850s occurred after one club formally challenged another. There was no such thing as a set schedule. In 1858, the landscape of the organized game still centered around New York City and its neighbor Brooklyn. At a meeting among area clubs that summer, Brooklyn officials challenged the New Yorkers to a match (best 2 out of 3). It was accepted. 

The novelty to the challenge lie in the twist that each city would send forth a so-called ‘picked nine,’ an all-star squad. Picked nines weren’t unique but the fact that the athletes would be drawn from the best clubs was. The contests would thus be the sport’s first true all-star contests – long before the current incarnation. 

Baseball officials recognized the uniqueness to their venture and sensing a heavy turnout decided to charge an admission to the events – a first. Now where could they do such a thing? Not on a corner lot, they needed an enclosed grounds. But none existed at this point in baseball history. The obvious choice was a race track. The Fashion Race Course on Long Island was chosen. It offered 10,000 seats with a potential to accommodate 50,000.

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Originally published: June 7, 2011. Last Updated: June 7, 2011.