July 3 through July 13, we will be counting down the Top 10All-Star Moments in a series sponsored by Head and Shoulders. Some of these may be exact moments in a Midsummer Classic, others might stretch the definition of moment a bit. But I hope this series will be fun and shed some light on some Tigers history as well. Don't take the exact rankings too seriously, but do have fun debating what you think the top moments should be!
Today's entry has more to do with a key moment in All-Star Game history that happened in Detroit.
Eight years after the first "All-Star" meeting between the American League and the National League took place in Chicago, Detroit's Briggs Stadium was chosen as the fourth AL park to play host to one.
The Tigers have three players selected to the game, including Big Rudy York as the starter at first base, Al Benton and Birdie Tebbetts, but the event that makes this game memorable cannot be attributed to a Tiger.
Instead, it was a Red Sock playing at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull that remains squarely in famous 70 years later.
With two outs in the ninth inning, and the Junior Circuit trailing its NL counterparts, 5-4, 22-year-old Boston outfielder Ted Williams -- in his second All-Star game of his career -- stepped to the plate with Joe Gordon on second base. A swing of the bat later and the game was over. Williams hit a walkoff home run to secure the AL's 7-5 victory. It was the Midsummer Classic's first walk off.
Here's video of it, though you get more of Williams running than a shot of the hit itself.
Williams went on to finish the season with 36 home runs and second in the MVP race.
Now just who were those Tigers and how'd they do, you might like to know. Rudy York was one of the team's premier sluggers. He was also the only Tiger to get into the game that year, going 1-for-3. Although he finished the '41 season with 26 home runs, he batted .259 and had an OPS+ of just 106. Earlier in his career, he made a giant splash by hitting 35 home runs while batting .307 as a rookie infielder converted to catcher. More amazing than that? He hit 18 home runs in the month of August alone that season.
Pitcher Al Benton did not get into the game -- the AL used just four -- but he did have a good season. The 30-year-old won 15 games in 38 starts and had an ERA of 2.97. He was also named to the All-Star Game in 1942, where he pitched five innings of relief and was awarded the save. He continued pitching in Detroit until 1948 and retired at the age of 41 with the Red Sox.
Catcher Birdie Tebbetts did not play in the 1941 contest, but the 28-year-old did catch the entire game for the AL in 1942. He stayed in Detroit through 1946, then finished his career with the Red Sox and Indians.
The 1941 Tigers finished in fourth place with a 75-79 record.
Tigers All Star Moments Series Recap:
No. 10 -- Bran-Torino carries the vote in 2010