John Thorn: Fantasy All-Star Games

From SABR member John Thorn at on July 14:

Major League Baseball’s first All-Star Game was staged in conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. The idea of Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, it was intended to be a one-time exhibition matching the best eighteen of each league against each other. But the game, an American League victory marked by a Babe Ruth home run, proved such a success that it has been followed every year since, except when wartime travel restrictions scratched it in 1945.

In an idle moment, it struck me that all but a handful of the great players of MLB’s first fifty years never got a chance to play in an All-Star Game. Cy Young, King Kelly, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and so many more—what if they were given a chance to play against the best of their own era? Further, what if they were to play against some of the best all-star teams actually assembled?

Hitching a ride on baseball’s time machine, I created a tourney of eight all-star squads, six of them actual and two as they might have been selected in their day. I then established a bracket that paralleled today’s three rounds of postseason play.

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Originally published: July 14, 2011. Last Updated: July 14, 2011.