All-Star Game memories: 1957’s ballot box
Ballot box stuffing wasn’t always concentrated on old Chicago mayoral elections, and baseball scandals didn’t end with the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.
And this isn’t to pick on Chicago because there was once scandal from the little ol’ river town on the Ohio, once called Porkopolis but now known as Cincinnati.
It involved fans, and it involved the 1957 All-Star Game.
Folks still around from that time insist, “What we did wasn’t illegal,” and they are right. Some of them probably cast their ballot, too — or more likely, their ballots.
The fans, egged on by a local newspapers, engorged the box with pre-printed ballots on which the entire Cincinnati Reds starting eight had an ‘X’ marked next to his name.
A local radio guy was seen parked outside a downtown bar in his car, barely visible, because the rest of the inside of his vehicle was occupied, floorboard-to-ceiling, with All-Star ballots.
The newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, made it easy every Sunday by printing the pre-marked ballots. All fans had to do was clip-and-send or clip-and-deposit in the Crosley Field ballot boxes.
Fans who visited some of their favorite watering holes were taken aback when they ordered a gin and tonic and were told, “No service until you produce an All-Star ballot.”
So when the counting was concluded, seven of the eight Reds on the ballot were winners. And how must first baseman George Crowe have felt? He was the only Reds starter not to make it, even though he was hitting .305. He finished second to Stan Musial.
An immediate investigation was unfurled, and it was quickly discovered that more than half the ballots cast that year for the All-Star game originated in Cincinnati.
What a shock.
Voted in were catcher Ed Bailey, second baseman Johnny Temple, shortstop Roy McMillan, third baseman Don Hoak, left fielder Frank Robinson, center fielder Gus Bell and right fielder Wally Post.
Commissioner Ford Frick intervened, although not by much. He replaced two of the Reds as starters, adding outfielders Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to replace Post and Bell in the starting lineup.
The amazing thing about the entire situation is that most of the Reds voted on the team were genuine All-Stars, based on their numbers, with the exception of the slicking-field shortstop, McMillan, who was hitting only .246, and Post, hitting only .231.
The rest: Bailey (.297), Temple (.292), Hoak (.292), Robinson (.312) and Bell (.291). And, of course, Crowe was hitting .305.
Frick was so incensed that the next year he took the voting away from the fans and placed it into the hands of the players, managers and coaches. It stayed that way until 1969, when it was returned to the fans with the caveat that each team would receive only 400,000 ballots (prior to the interjection of internet voting).
Said Frick a few years later about the Cincinnati ballot stuffing, which involved no hanging chads: “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.”
The game was played in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis in front of little more than 30,000 in the tiny ballpark, and the American League won 6-5.
And just to show Frick a thing or two, Bell came off the bench to rip a two-run double in the seventh, with teammate Bailey one of the guys to score. Bell also walked in the bottom of the ninth during a rally that brought the National League from 6-2 behind to 6-5. The game ended with Gil Hodges lining hard to left field with the potential tying run on second base.
Bailey was 1 for 3, Robinson was 1 for 2, Temple was 0 for 2, Hoak was 0 for 1 and McMillan was 0 for 1.