85 years ago, Arlington man was in stands during 1st All-Star Game

Ninety-five-year-old Ed Bearss remembers the first All-Star Game, in 1933, really well. He was there in the stands as a boy and watched the first all-stars, such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, play the game.

WASHINGTON — When Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game comes to town Tuesday Ed Bearss, (pronounced BAHRZ), 95, of Arlington, Virginia, will be watching and remembering.

The National Park Service Historian Emeritus and combat-wounded World War II Marine veteran was in the stands at Comiskey Park in Chicago for the first All-Star Game, July 6, 1933.

“In the bottom of the third inning, Babe Ruth hit a home run … you could see him rounding the bases and being very deliberate and you could see his body English that he was really up, high-honored as he comes into home plate,” said Bearss, who at 10 years old drove the 1,200 miles with his family from their ranch near Sarpy, Montana, to Chicago for the game.

Bearss also sadly recalls watching Lou Gehrig in that first All-Star Game, which the American League All-Stars won, 4-2, over the National League All-Stars.

“Particularly important on Lou Gehrig is that he has already been diagnosed with, what is now known as, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and this will be the last [time] he’ll ever play in the All-Star Game,” Bearss said.

That first All Star-Game made a baseball fan of the boy, even though a steel beam partially obstructed his view from the right-field stands.

“My first recollection would be that it wasn’t a very good seat,” Bearrs said. However, he took solace in being close to where Babe Ruth patrolled the outfield.

He also remembers ballgames on the radio. His dad erected an enormous antenna on their ranch that was capable of pulling in the signals of far away radio stations, in the days before television.

He fondly remembers hearing history unfold in the second All-Star Game, on July 10, 1934, from the Polo Grounds in New York, when the National League Giants pitcher struck out five future Hall of Famers.

“I always remember hearing on the radio when Carl Hubbell strikes out (Babe) Ruth, (Lou) Gehrig, (Jimmy) Fox, (Al) Simmons and (Joe) Cronin, in succession,” Bearss said. But the American League would go on to beat the National League, 9-7.

From their home on the ranch, the Bearss family followed the travails of the Chicago Cubs. But now the historian and author lives in Arlington, proudly sports a Washington Nationals cap and hopes to one day see the Nats in the World Series.

“I hope no one panics and I would like to see the Nats do what the Cubs took so many years to do after 1908,” Bearss said.

Bearrs has a role to the play in this year’s All-Star festivities. He’ll throw out the first pitch Friday night at Nationals Park in the inaugural Armed Services Classic — a coed softball game of active duty military personnel from all five branches of the services.

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