Dept. of Word Lists

All-Star Words

We've been talking to Paul Dickson about the new edition of his magnum opus, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary. Now, in honor of Major League Baseball's 80th All-Star Game, played tonight at Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, we present some all-star words from Dickson's dictionary.

all star A player selected at almost any level of baseball to a team comprising the best players from a league or geographic area. 1st Use. 1894. "[Oscar Meyer] did not have nine stars by any means, but he made it very hot for some that thought they did have an 'all star' combination." (The Sporting News, Jan. 20; Peter Morris).

All Star A player chosen to play in the All-Star Game.

All-Star balloting The act of voting for players to appear in the All-Star Game. Various methods have been used: beginning in 1933 and 1934, fans voted for the players through ballots printed in the Chicago Tribune; from 1935 through 1946, the managers voted; from 1947 through 1957, fans voted; from 1958 to 1969, the players, managers, and coaches voted; and since 1970, the fans have voted the starting lineups, with the manager of each team filling out the roster The last player for each team is chosen by Internet fan vote, a kind of runoff with five players chosen from each league. The decision to turn the balloting over to the fans has, according to the critics of nonprofessional voting, turned selection of the game's starting players into more of a popularity contest than a true contest based on merit; e.g., in 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot "box" when seven of eight starters voted in were Reds players. Even with spaces for write-ins, the number of names on the ballot has risen regularly. Balloting has been an activity sponsored by a company willing to put up a million dollars a year for the privilege. The Gillette Safety Razor Co. conducted the voting from 1970 to 1986, and USA Today and its parent, Gannett Co., Inc., picked it up beginning in 1987.

All-Star berth A selection to play in the All-Star Game.

All-Star break The three-day, mid-July break in the schedule of major-league baseball to accommodate the All-Star Game and related festivities. It represents the unofficial midpoint of the season and is an important point of reference when charting a team's fortunes; e.g., a manager may say that his team will be in fine shape if it is within three games of first place by the time of the All-Star break. Sport (Oct. 1984, p.15) noted the All-Star break is a "trial" for sabermetrician Bill James, who lamented: "Three days without box scores. Jeez, that's tough." Syn. break, 10.

All-Star card A baseball card portraying a player who participated in the previous season's All-Star Game. The first All-Star cards appeared in the 1958 Topps baseball set.

All-Star Game 1. The annual interleague game played each July between players selected as the best at their positions in the American League and the National League. The starting players are selected by fan balloting, but the pitchers, coaches, and substitutes are selected by the respective managers. At least one player must be selected from each team. Beginning in 2003, games 1, 2, 6, and 7 of the World Series are scheduled in the city of the20club whose league was the winner of that season's All-Star Game. The Game is played under the supervision and control of the commissioner of baseball; the date and ballpark in which the game is played is determined by the Executive Council. The first All-Star Game was played on July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward, who saw it as a one-shot "dream game" (or "game of the century") to go along with the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition going on in the city. Though opposed by some owners, the idea appealed to the presidents of the two leagues and commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. A third-inning, two-run home run by Babe Ruth led the American League to a 4-2 win. Because of travel restrictions during World War II, the game was not played in 1945. There were two All-Star Games in 1959 through 1962, but this idea was scrapped as it became clear that two games lacked the luster of one. The only game to be postponed was the one scheduled for July 14, 1981, which was moved to August 9 because of a players' strike. Syn. dream game; Midseason Classic; Summer Classic; Midsummer Classic; summer spectacle. Etymology. Before 1933, there were several unofficial "all-star" exhibition games; e.g., the game on July 24, 1911 to benefit the widow of Cleveland pitcher Addie Joss in which the best of the American League defeated the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, and more than $13,000 was raised. F.C. Lane (Baseball Magazine, Dec. 1913) proposed "the All America Baseball Club" in which "the crack team of the American League contrasted with the crack team of the National." Later, Baseball Magazine (March 1916, p.48-52) proposed a midseason "All-Star Series" between selected teams consisting of the two best players from each team in the American League and the National League. 2. Any similar contest at other levels of play and in softball.

All-Star team A team participating in an All-Star Game. "Choosing an all star team of baseball players is a fad with most fans." (F.C. Lane, Baseball Magazine, Dec. 1913). 1st Use. 1905. (Sporting Life, Sept. 2; Edward J. Nichols).

All-Star Week The week of festivities surrounding the All-Star Game. An editorial in The Baltimore Sun (July 15, 1993) entitled "An All-Star Week to Remember" discussed FanFest, an old-timers game, a tribute to black baseball players, the home run derby, an architectural forum on stadium architecture, and the game itself.

Reprinted from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd Edition by Paul Dickson. Copyright (c) 2009, 1999, 1989 by Paul Dickson. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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The first part of our interview with baseball lexicographer Paul Dickson.