The last time reigning champs hosted All-Star Game? Go back to 1939

July 5th, 2024

Globe Life Field will be the center of the baseball world in just over a week as the Rangers host All-Star festivities.

But wait, weren’t we just here? The collective eyes of the sport were on Arlington at the end of last fall as the Rangers won their first World Series title.

That’s right -- the reigning champs are hosting the All-Star Game.

Cast a memory back over recent years, and you’re going to come up empty. That’s because this does not happen often.

The Rangers will be just the third defending champ to host the All-Star Game and the first in quite a while, per Elias Sports Bureau research.

Let’s dig in.

Defending champions
The only prior defending World Series champions to host the All-Star Game were the 1939 Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, and the 1934 Giants, at the Polo Grounds.

That’s right, this happened in the second and seventh Midsummer Classics to ever occur and had not occurred again until this year.

The 1938 Yankees had swept the Cubs to win their third consecutive World Series. They would make it four straight later that fall -- more on that to come. In that ’39 All-Star Game, the AL won, 3-1, with none other than Joe DiMaggio hitting a solo home run as part of the festivities. In fact, all three runs came with a member of the hometown Yankees at the plate, with George Selkirk’s RBI single and Joe Gordon reaching on an error.

The 1933 Giants had won the World Series in five games over the Washington Senators. The 1934 All-Star Game is best known for the performance of the Giants’ Carl Hubbell, who struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession in the first and second innings. Ultimately, the AL won the game, 9-7.

Each of the two prior games hosted by reigning champs featured standout performances from their own players, which is worth keeping in mind for the Rangers’ participants.

As for manager Bruce Bochy, he joins the 1939 Yankees’ Joe McCarthy and 1934 Giants’ Bill Terry as only managers to be in this unique spot.

Future champions
What about doing this in a different order, hosting an All-Star Game, and then going on to win it all? Every team to host has such designs, of course, but it is also a rare feat.

As noted above, those 1939 Yankees both hosted the All-Star Game as reigning champions and went on to win the World Series that year.

The Yankees were the first team to host in a season they won the World Series. Two other teams have done so since: the 1959 Dodgers and 1977 Yankees.

We’ll see if the Rangers can pull off the double feat to mimic the 1939 Yankees. But regardless, it’s worth keeping this side of the note in mind in future years as well, especially with recent NL postseason participants the Braves and Phillies hosting each of the next two All-Star Games.