“I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.” —Anonymous
On Tuesday, July 19, 2022, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game will be played at Dodger Stadium.
Question: When did this revered institution originate?
Once upon a time there was a professional baseball team from Cleveland, OH, named the Cleveland Naps. The team existed for twelve seasons (1903 to 1914).
The Naps played their home games at League Park situated at the northeast corner of E. 66th Street and Lexington Avenue. Babe Ruth hit his 500th career home run playing for the New York Yankees in Cleveland’s League Park on Aug. 11, 1929.1
On October 2, 1908, something magical happened at League Park.
The weather that day was standard fare for October in Cleveland and perfect for baseball. The high temperature that day was 51° and the low was 42°. (The record high temperature for October 2 in Cleveland was 86° set in 1919. The record low temperature for Cleveland on October 2 was 32° set in 1975.)2
A crowd of 10,598 came to watch baseball.
With a week left in the season, three American League teams—The Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and the Cleveland Naps—were engaged in a race for the postseason. These three teams were separated by just one-and-a-half games. “Three games remained in the regular season and the Naps were a half-game behind the Detroit Tigers as they headed into a match-up against the Chicago White Sox, who trailed the Naps by one game.”3
On that day, the fans were treated to a pitcher’s duel. Addie Joss pitched for the Naps and Ed Walsh pitched for the White Sox. (Both pitchers would end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.) The Naps recorded four hits and they were struck out by Walsh 15 times. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Joss recorded a perfect game, only the second in American League history. He accomplished the feat with just 74 pitches, the lowest known pitch count ever achieved in a perfect game.
By turning in what was probably the most clutch performance by a pitcher in baseball history, Addie Joss became one of the first “fan-favorites” in baseball’s fan-captivating culture.
Point: Sometimes things happen as idyllically perfect as things typically are in storybooks.
Tragedy Yet to Come
Addie Joss was a fantastic pitcher.
- His career ERA was an incredible 1.88 and ranks second among all pitchers ever. (Ed Walsh, Joss’ opponent on October 2, 1908, holds the MLB earned run average record with 1.816.)
- Joss gave up a meager 16 home runs for his entire career.
- In his abbreviated nine-year career Joss amassed 160 wins, 46 by shutout.
- Along the way he produced two no-hitters, (one of them the perfect game described above) and seven one-hitters.
On April 3, 1911, while the Cleveland Naps took the field for warm-ups before a scheduled exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, Addie Joss trotted across the field to catch up with an old friend of his, Chattanooga shortstop Rudy Hulswitt. While they were talking, Joss fainted, and he was later sent to his doctor in Toledo. Eleven days later, professional baseball players and fans awoke to the news that Joss had died from tubercular meningitis. He had turned 31 years old just two days before.
Point: Every real story includes hardship, and its repercussions.
The Start of Something Huge
The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held on July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Park in Chicago as part of the 1933 World’s Fair. The All-Star Game was planned to be a one-time event. It turned into an annual milestone.
More than two decades before that ﬁrst interleague All-Star game, the elite of the American League’s players gathered at Cleveland’s League Park. They played the Cleveland Naps on July 24, 1911, to celebrate the career of Addie Joss and to honor his memory.
The Back Story:
Addie Joss’s funeral took place on April 17 in Toledo. His team, the Naps, were scheduled to play the Detroit Tigers that day. Joss’ teammates declared their intention to strike if the game that day was not postponed. American League President Ban Johnson canceled the game. All twenty-five members of the Naps, as well as a handful of Tiger players, arrived in Toledo for the funeral of Adrian C. Joss.
Hundreds of other people also attended. Addie was loved by one and all. In attendance were Joss’ wife and two small children. Now penniless.
Ballplayer-turned-evangelist, Billy Sunday, preached the funeral sermon. “Joss tried hard to strike out death, and it seemed for a time as though he would win,” Sunday proclaimed. “The bases were full. The score was a tie, with two outs. Thousands, yes, millions in a nation’s grandstands and bleachers sat breathless watching the conflict. The great twirler stood erect in the box. Death walked to the plate.”4
The Naps’ owner, Charles Sommers, imagined his team playing an Addie Joss Benefit Game. The All-Star game was the brainchild of Cleveland management and Vice-President E. S. Barnard. His idea took shape. On July 24, a day off for all teams in the American League, Joss’ teammates faced an all-star team at League Park. Future National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, Cy Young and Nap Lajoie, played for Cleveland. The all-star team included both Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb, who would also become National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. The Naps lost by a score of 5-3.
Cy Young once described Addie Joss this way: “He was a great man. I feel sure he never made an enemy.”5
Walter Johnson said, “I’ll do anything they want for Addie Joss’ family.”6
Joss’ widow: “Addie had real friends, even amongst his bitterest rivals on the ball ﬁeld.”7
Jimmy McAleer, manager of the Washington Senators, gladly volunteered to lead the all-star team on the field as the skipper. He said of Joss, “The memory of Addie Joss is sacred to everyone with whom he ever came in contact. The man never wore a uniform who was a greater credit to the sport than he.”8
A total of 15,272 fans turned out to watch the quick one-hour and thirty-two-minute game. That is almost 50 percent more people than saw Joss pitch the perfect game back on October 2, 1908.
The Addie Joss Benefit Game in 1911 raised $12,914 for the Joss family. (The equivalent of over $380,000 in current dollars.)
This was before GoFundMe, and Crowdsourcing.
Point: It is not unusual for people to come together to do something wonderful for a person in need, especially if that person is well-liked.
Great, But Can You Spot What’s Missing?
The Addie Joss Benefit Game did not take place prior to the invention of life insurance. Perhaps he never met anyone in the business of life insurance. He may not have purchased anything near $12,914 in death benefit, even if an agent had approached him. Who knows? An underwriter may have declined him.
Given what we know about the man, Addie Joss most likely loved his family intensely. He certainly would have agreed to buy life insurance if he understood what it could mean for his family should he die.
It is unlikely that Joss would have expected a game to be played in his honor and the ticket proceeds given to his wife and kids.
Question: Are people in your orbit counting on something like GoFundMe to attract caring people to meet the financial needs of their surviving family members should they die unexpectedly?
Baseball fans love to see some of the best players gather for the annual All-Star game. Most people do not know the back story. If you are an independent financial professional, the Addie Joss story may help you illustrate the wonder of life insurance to the people in your life.
GoFundMe and Crowdsourcing are getting bigger and bigger. Hopefully it has hit you that they are poor substitutes for life insurance.
- “You Could Look It Up: No Hits for You”. Steven Goldman, September 8, 2006. Baseball Prospectus.