The fifth post in Red Reporter's count down of the 10 Greatest Moments in Reds All Star History. This is my attempt to rank the most memorable and exciting moments relevant to the Cincinnati Reds in the history of the Mid-Summer Classic.
July 9, 1957
"I can take it if we lose, but I strongly object to our league making a burlesque out of the All-Star Game. I never want to see such an exhibition again." - Former NL president and MLB Commissioner Commissioner Ford Frick, Sporting News (07/18/1970)
This post-McCarthy era All Star Game isn't particularly notable for any performances by Redlegs - although Gus Bell did have a two-RBI double in a losing effort for the NL - but for those by Cincinnati fans and institutions, principally the Enquirer. The grass roots effort to send a straight-ticket of Redlegs players to Busch Stadium in 1957 was largely successful - and brought an end to fan voting for half a generation.
In more competitive times, the Cincinnati Enquirer - now Cincinnati's only paper of record- sometimes had to comport itself more like a talk radio station. In the lead-up to the 19th All Star Game, held in St. Louis, the Enquirer decided to print ballots marked with a full slate of the Reds eight starters in its Sunday edition. All fans had to do was cut it out and take it down to Crosley field to place their vote.
Here's how the Reds Starting Eight shaped up at the break in '57:
C Ed Bailey (.297/.423/.522)
1B George Crowe (.305/.343/.575)
2B Johnny Temple (.292/.416/.364)
3B Don Hoak (.292/.379/.518)
SS Roy McMillan (.246/.351/.308)
RF Wally Post (.231/.276/.424)
CF Gus Bell (.291/.330/.411)
LF Frank Robinson (.312/.367/.495)
Bailey, Temple, Hoak and Robinson all had legitimate claims on a stating spot, while Crowe and Bell wouldn't have been out of place as reserves. Ultimately, only Crowe lost his race (to Stan Musial) and 7 Redlegs were elected to the team by fan vote. The league smelled a rat. A river rat, perhaps.
Ford C. Frick launched an investigation which revealed that roughly half of all ballots submitted originated in Cincinnati. Apart from the Enquirer's central role, there were also scattered reports of Cincinnati bars requiring All Star ballots in exchange for service. Don't want to cast aspersions 50 years later, but Arnold's, maybe? What else was open then?
Frick was incensed by the apparent "burlesque," especially as it could have conceivably involved actual burlesque. The league intervened to pull Bell and Post from the starting lineup, disenfranchising voters by replacing them with the more deserving Mays and Aaron, respectively. Democracy doesn't mean ruling by edict when you disagree with The People, does it? Although it also should probably stick to some kind of one-person, one-vote principle, that adjusts for population density and protects from the tyranny of the majority. Also, we live in a Republic. Anyway, this isn't a civics class.
Approving of a practice that benefits you and denouncing it when it doesn't is commonly known as hypocrisy. But strict rules of logic and fairness are suspended in sports fandom. Brand name, often East Coast-based, teams chafe Middle American fans by getting their undeserving "stars" elected nearly every year. So it's nice to strike a blow for the Fly-Overs when you can.