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All-Star Game: Did Ford Frick stop two Cincinnati Reds from starting?

July 10, 2012|By Brian Cronin
  • The logo for the 2012 All-Star game.
The logo for the 2012 All-Star game. (David Eulitt / MCT )

BASEBALL ALL-STAR URBAN LEGEND: Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick overturned the fan voting for two Cincinnati Reds in the 1957 All-Star Game.

Ted (Big Klu) Kluszewski was a slugging first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1950s. A popular player, he was an All-Star in 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956. However, in 1957, Kluszewski was injured most of the season, so his back-up, George Crowe, became the everyday first baseman for the Reds, and it was Crowe who was on the All-Star ballot as the Reds' first-base representative.

That's notable only because, when the voting results came in for the 1957 All-Star Game (to be held in St. Louis), Crowe was the only one of Cincinnati’s eight players on the ballot to not get elected to be in the All-Star Game!

Yep, catcher Ed Bailey, second baseman Johnny Temple, shortstop Roy McMillan, third baseman Don Hoak, left fielder Frank Robinson, center fielder Gus Bell and right fielder Wally Post all got elected by the fans to start for the National League.

The 1957 Reds were a fun team to watch, as they were a good offensive team (and Robinson, of course, was a Hall of Famer), but seven of the eight positions? As mentioned before, the only position that they did not take was first base, where Crowe lost out to Hall of Famer Stan Musial of the Cardinals.

After an investigation, it turned out that half of all the votes cast for the All-Star Game in 1957 came from Cincinnati. Cincinnati newspapers printed out pre-filled out ballots that fans just had to sign and mail in. Bars would make filling out a ballot a pre-condition to buying a beer.

Ultimately, Commissioner Ford Frick decided that while he couldn't really mess with the other positions too much, he would at least replace two players, Gus Bell and Wally Post, with two of the most popular players in the National League in 1957, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. The ballot stuffing in Cincinnati had a problematic result for fans - Frick took the vote for the All-Star Game out of the hands of the fans. They would not be allowed to vote for All Stars again until 1970.

Since Bell was already a three-time All Star at the time (and would go on to see both his son and two of his grandsons play in the majors - his son, Buddy, even made it four-All Star Games of his own – one more than his old man), Frick allowed him to make the team as a reserve. Post, though, had no such luck, and retired in 1964 having never made it to the All-Star game.

The legend is... STATUS: True.

Be sure to check out my Sports Urban Legends Revealed for more sports urban legends! I have archives of all the past urban legends featured on the site in the categories of: Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, the Olympics and Soccer/Football! Also be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies, Music and more! Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

And please buy my new book, "Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?" here. It just came out! Also, you might like to purchase my first book, "Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed! here.

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