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by David Fleitz

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July 24, 1911
Baseball's First All-Star Game

by David Fleitz

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An American Caramel baseball card of Addie Joss, 1909.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and Tris Speaker at the Addie Joss benefit game, July 24, 1911. Cobb is wearing a borrowed Cleveland road uniform.

This article appeared in the Toledo Blade Sunday magazine on May 29, 1988.


It was, in every respect, a most unusual sight. When the specially assembled team of players took the field on July 24, 1911 against the Cleveland Naps (now called the Indians), it was a sight that was unfamiliar to baseball fans. The players were the stars of the other seven teams of the American League. They were there to play baseball's first All-Star game, and they played it to raise money for a Toledo family in need.

Adrian (Addie) Joss, a Toledo resident and star pitcher of the Cleveland team, had died suddenly on April 14, 1911, at the age of 31. He left behind his wife Lillian and their two children, eight year old Norman and four year old Ruth, in the family home at 2440 Fulton Street in Toledo. After the funeral the Cleveland team determined to hold a day to honor the pitcher and raise money for the family, but the management soon became bogged down in on-the-field problems and the idea was put on the back burner.

Addie's teammates, however, would not let the issue die. They had nearly caused the first strike in baseball history by refusing to play in Detroit on the day of the funeral, forcing the league to reschedule the contest. Addie's friends, including manager George Stovall and pitching legend Cy Young, suggested an All-Star game to be played on Monday, July 24, a day when most of the rest of the league was idle.

The idea was met with great enthusiasm by the rest of the league, especially after Ty Cobb, baseball's biggest star of the era, wired his agreement to play to the Cleveland management on July 15. Manager Jimmy McAleer of the Washington Senators was given the task of managing what one newspaper called "the greatest collection of All-Star players who ever appeared on the field in the history of the game."

Each of the other seven teams in the league sent their star players to Cleveland to take part in the historic game. From Detroit came outfielders Sam Crawford, a veteran of 14 seasons in the major leagues, and fiery Ty Cobb, whose .438 batting average led the league. The world champion Philadelphia A's sent two heroes of the 1910 World Series, third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker and second baseman Eddie Collins. The shortstop was Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Browns, and the first baseman was "Prince" Hal Chase of the New York Yankees. Philadelphia's Paddy Livingstone and the Washington Senators' Gabby Street handled the catching, and the pitching staff included fireballers Joe Wood of the Boston Red Sox and Walter Johnson of the Senators, assisted by spitball artists Russell Ford of the Yankees and Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox. Boston's Tris Speaker patrolled center field for the All-Stars.

Most of the players mentioned above were named to the Hall of Fame many years later, making this one of the strongest All-Star teams ever assembled. "Leave that combination together," remarked The Blade on the day of the game, "and there would be no American League."

At first glance, Ty Cobb seemed to be the least likely All-Star in attendance. Grouchy and impatient, the greatest player in baseball was also considered to be the dirtiest. Fellow All-Star Frank Baker had been cut by Cobb's flying spikes in a game two years before, and Cobb's relations with the Cleveland fans were typically less than cordial. He was not even on speaking terms with fellow Tiger and All-Star Sam Crawford, who said fifty years later that the hot-tempered Georgian "thought we were all damn Yankees. He was still fighting the Civil War." His competitive fire was legendary, but also made Cobb probably the least-liked player in baseball history.

In addition, Addie Joss was one pitcher who gave Cobb fits. In his career Cobb faced the tall Toledoan 73 times and managed only 17 hits for a .233 average, while belting the rest of the league's pitchers at a .367 clip.

Addie Joss, however, was a man with no enemies. The Toledo Blade remarked in 1908 that "Addie Joss has more friends in this city than any other man," and the baseball world felt the same way. Joss, like the Senators' Walter Johnson, was a modest, soft- spoken man with a great deal of talent and a knack for making friends. He and Johnson were two opponents who earned the great Cobb's respect on and off the field. When Joss died in April 1911, Cobb led a group of Tigers to the funeral in Toledo.

Many years later Cobb, then manager of the Tigers, offered a tryout to Addie's son Norman. Arlene Joss, widow of Norman, recalls that Norman Joss was a pitcher like his father. "But Norman wasn't nearly as big as his father, and he had already started his career in business by then," she says today. Norman politely turned down the offer.

Despite the tragic loss of Addie Joss on the eve of the 1911 season, the Cleveland Naps had many stars of their own. On the mound Cy Young, winner of more than 500 major league games since 1890, stood ready to face the All Stars. Young, a close friend of the Joss family, was finishing the last year of his career at age 44. He would make the Hall of Fame, as would Nap Lajoie, second baseman and former manager of the team that was nicknamed the Naps in his honor. In the outfield was Shoeless Joe Jackson, a rookie from South Carolina who had played barefoot in the minors and who batted .408 in 1911.

A contingent of Toledoans gathered at the pool room Addie Joss co-owned in the St. Paul building downtown to make the trip to Cleveland. League Park was not draped in black, nor did it show any sign of mourning save for the flag at half-mast in centerfield. Addie's family and the players had decided that the game should be a celebration of baseball itself, and so it was for the 15,000 fans who jammed the park for this unusual game.

The All-Stars scored first off Cy Young. Speaker, the first batter, singled and scored on Collins' triple. Cobb drove Collins home with a single and the All-Stars led 2-0 in the first inning. In the second, Chase and Street singled for the All- Stars, and starting pitcher Joe Wood drove Chase home with a sacrifice fly. Young left the game in the second inning, and the All-Stars held control the rest of the way. The Naps scored in the second, but the All-Stars answered in the fourth with singles by Baker and Crawford and a sacrifice fly by Chase.

Walter Johnson came in to pitch for the All-Stars and shut out the Naps for four innings, while Russell Ford allowed two runs to the Naps in the eighth. The All-Stars scored again in the seventh when Collins singled in the Senators' Clyde Milan, who had replaced Speaker in the outfield. The final score was 5 to 3 in the All-Stars favor.

"Guess Cleveland couldn't stand for that team," remarked the Blade. "The collective stars didn't need teamwork to bring about a victory. Their fielding brilliance (was) accomplished without the aid of signals or strategy." Indeed, the Cleveland team that finished a strong third in the league that year was no match for this group of baseball's greatest superstars. Nine participants in the contest (Cobb, Speaker, Baker, Collins, Johnson, Wallace, Crawford, Lajoie, and Young) eventually were named to the Hall of Fame; on August 16, 1978, Addie Joss joined them in Cooperstown.

The Joss family moved away from their Fulton Street home a few years later, though they all stayed in Toledo. Lillian Joss became a probation officer for the Lucas County Juvenile Court. She died in 1955 at the age of 77. Daughter Ruth, a nurse at Toledo Hospital, never married and died in 1957. Norman Joss, who became an Internal Revenue Service official, died in November 1977, a few weeks before a special committee named his father to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Norman's widow Arlene still lives in Toledo and donated many of Addie's baseball mementoes to the Hall of Fame, including an autographed picture of all the stars who came to honor Addie Joss one memorable July afternoon in 1911.