This is the first post in Red Reporter's count down of the Greatest Moments in Reds All Star History. This is my attempt to rank the most memorable and exciting moments relevant to the Cincinnati Reds franchise in the history of the Mid-Summer classic.
July 6, 1938
Crosley Field, home of the Reds from 1912-1970, played host to the sixth-ever All Star game in '38. The game took place 6 days after the very first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1, as the Spanish Civil War raged and the specter of Nazi horror rose steadily in Europe. Johnny Vander Meer, at age 23, was given the ball for the National League - in no small part due to his still-unrivaled feat of back-to-back no hitters, thrown on June 11 and June 15, 1938 (the second of which scattered 8 walks over 9 innings). The "Dutch Master" rode that mystique, along with a 2.77 ERA over the first-half, into his start against the American League's best.
Johnny had been Meer mortal in April and May, but as soon as June hit, he spun out 5 straight complete games (including the two no-nos), giving up only 3 earned runs over 5 starts. In just his second season in the major leagues, Vander Meer emerged as a virtual co-ace, along with Paul Derringer, on an excellent Reds pitching staff that also included Bucky Walters, Peaches Davis and Whitey Moore. The '38 squad would go 82-68, but finish 6 games back of the Cubs.
Vander Meer joined the veteran Derringer on the NL team, along with teammates Ernie Lombardi, Frank McCormick and Ivan Goodman. Derringer would go on to have the better season, the finest of his 15-year career, but Vander Meer had the edge in both ERA and headlines at the mid-point. Derringer was the only Red not to see action in the game.
The young Vander Meer took the familiar mound at Findlay and Western and quickly sat down Mike Kreevich of the White Sox and future Hall of Famers Earl Averill and Charlie Gehringer. He faced an even stiffer challenge in Top of the Second, with three more HOFers in the heart of the AL order. He showed he was game by striking out Jimmie Foxx and coaxxxing groundouts from Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey.
The third would be Vander Meer's final inning of work. Joe Cronin worked him for a single, but it would be the only baserunner the Reds' young phenom would allow, as he retired the next three All Stars in order. It may seem hard to believe given the recent history of the All Star Game, the AL would only manage one run the rest of the game and play defense (4 errors) that should make Dan Uggla feel better about his place in history. Ernie Lombardi, the Reds' hard and long-nosed catcher - "slowest man to play major league baseball well" according to BIll James - went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Though he only pitched 3 innings, Vander Meer took home the win as the NL came out on top 4-1. Still very much in the grips of the Depression, it was a welcome - if brief - escape for the home town crowd and a treat to be so well-represented.
Honorable Mention to this list: Ted Williams Returns, Paige and Robinson play Crosley '53
It's not notable for a performance by a Red, but the second and final ASG hosted at Crosley Field was an historically rich affair. Ted Williams, elected to the AL squad, had just returned from Korea four days earlier. He did not play in the game, but threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Ted Kluszewski and Gus Bell started for the NL, as the Senior Circuit cruised to a 5-1 victory.