14 Jul

star turns

The major league All-Star Game has always been a pretty big deal, even before the contrived significance of World Series home-field advantage was added a few years back. Putting all those great players on one field for a midsummer game … how can it be anything but grand? Winning the World Series is every player’s ultimate goal, but making the All-Star Game rates pretty high, too. Years ago in the old Negro Leagues, making the East-West Game, as their showcase was called, was an even bigger deal than winning the season-ending championship. The game drew like nothing else those leagues put together. It was the event of the season, and Mississippians had their share of star turns, as research in Robert Peterson’s path-breaking “Only the Ball Was White” shows. In the inaugural East-West Game, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1933, Starkville native Cool Papa Bell started and hit leadoff for the East, but fellow Hall of Famer Bill Foster, who grew up in Lorman and later was a dean at Alcorn State, pitched for the West, got the win and a hit. Bell played in almost every East-West game over a 12-year stretch. Howard Easterling of Mount Olive was a five-time All-Star. In 1940, he went 2-for-5 with a run in the East’s 11-0 win. In 1946, at Washington’s Griffith Stadium, Easterling had three hits, two runs and an RBI in a 5-3 win. Bubba Hyde, from Pontotoc, was 2-for-3 with an RBI in a second 1946 game, back at Comiskey. In 1949, Easterling again came up big in the classic, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a steal in a 4-0 East win. Charleston’s Bill Hoskins had a hit and an RBI in the East’s 8-3 win in 1941, played before a crowd of 50,000-plus. Jackson native Buddy Armour went 2-for-4 with a couple of runs and a stolen base in the 1944 game and rapped out two hits in ’47, as well. Oh, if only there were a time machine for baseball fans …

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

Latest posts by Mike Christensen (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: