Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 1859: Tickets, please

QUEENS, N.Y. - The excitement was palpable. Baseball was starting to take off in popularity in the New York City area, with arguments abound about whether the better players were based in New York proper or in Brooklyn. When the Brooklyn teams challenged the New York teams to a contest, with each city allowed to pick its nine best players, the first All-Star Game was born.

It was more than just the first All-Star Game, too. When 1,500 fans went to Fashion Park Race Course on July 20, 1859, they were charged 50 cents to get in, making this the first baseball game to charge admission. As the players weren't yet paid for playing baseball, all proceeds from admission went to the New York area fire departments.

The game between the Brooklyn all stars and the New York all stars was actually the first of a three-game series scheduled over six weeks that summer. Fans arrived by steamer boat and horse-drawn carriage to all three games at Fashion Park, which was demolished seven years later.

In the first game, the New York team beat the Brooklyns 22-18. Game two saw Brooklyn get revenge, winning 29-8, while New York won the series with a 29-18 win in game three.

July 20, 1969: SAN FRANCISCO - In 1968, big league manager Alvin Dark was talking to a sports writer about the hitting ability of pitcher Gaylor Perry. Dark said "they'll put a man on the moon before he hits a home run." The next year, 20 minutes after the Giants learned about Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon, Perry connected for his first career home run. He must have liked how it felt, as he hit one in each of the next three seasons, as well.

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