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July 14, 2009 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Did any other leagues in any sport in any country hold an all-star game before Major League Baseball started holding its annual game in 1933?

This comprehensive article on the beginnings of the game calls it "the grandfather" of all-star games, but provides no further details. (Though it does mention the first Negro League All-Star Game later that year.) I know the NFL, NHL and NBA games all came later, but what about other sports/leagues?
posted by sixpack to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"An estimated 3,800 spectators attended a Hod Stuart Memorial Game on January 2, 1908. The exhibition, pitting the Montreal Wanderers against a squad of All-Stars, raised close to $2,000 for Stuart's widow and two children, and was the first such "all-star" contest in hockey." (This was not an NHL all-star game, though, but a professional hockey all-star game. Not sure if this fits your criteria.)
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:17 PM on July 14, 2009

This one would be difficult to quantify, because of how professional sports became organized around the concept of local club teams. It was quite common for players of disparate clubs to be organized into "all star" teams in order to create a more compelling offer when traveling to exhibitions. You can make an analogy with today's concept of "travel teams" when talking about youth sports, especially in soccer, baseball, softball and basketball.

MLB was the first really extensive professional league of any sport in the U.S., so its claim of having the first all-star game is probably pretty solid. But it shouldn't surprise anyone that the earliest professional games with the New York Knickerbockers, the New York Nine, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, played games against "all star" club teams as early as the 1850s.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:19 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: The first international [soccer] match was a friendly played at West of Scotland Cricket Ground, Glasgow in front of only 3.000 spectators.

It was played "in Glasgow, Scotland, on 30th of November, 1872 when an English all-star team met its Scottish counterpart."

That may not make it the first (there are even unofficial predecessors for the same match-up), but it's well documented.
posted by dhartung at 10:08 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: Isn't this what Internationals are about, in games which are played internationally?

Here's a reference to a King's XI from 1834.
posted by pompomtom at 10:15 PM on July 14, 2009

I think dhartung and pompomtom have an important point. American major league sports historically didn't play international games, so the All-Star game takes that place. It used to be the case that players would play in their own country, so, for instance, an England v Italy football game would effectively be an All-Star game between the Football League and Serie A. Those days are long gone.
posted by salmacis at 1:03 AM on July 15, 2009

Yeah, Cool Papa Bell's on the mark here about the nature of early club sport.

So, international cricket and rugby contests can probably be considered all-star contests, In fact, a select English cricket team played in the US and Canada in 1859, two years before the first tour of Australia in 1861-2. (There was also the remarkable Aboriginal tour of 1868.)

Still, there are other examples closer in character to the All-Star Game: I'm thinking in particular of the Barbarians, formed initially as a "best of the rest" side to take on leading clubs in one-off exhibitions, which eventually became (post-WW2) the scratch all-star team that takes on a touring international side in their final match.
posted by holgate at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2009

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