East-West All-Star Baseball
For many years, East-west All-Star Baseball has been the showcase of baseball talent in the state of Alabama. The games bring together the finest young stars in the state and provide players with the opportunity to perform for college and professional scouts as well as baseball fans from across the nation.
The national East-West Games were first held in conjunction with Esquire magazine in 1940. Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb coached the teams playing in the first championship series held in New York. In 1943 Esquire magazine offered the state East-West program to the Birmingham News which in turn arranged for co-sponsorship with the Birmingham Lions Club. Since that time, approximately $800,000 has been raised for Alabama Lions Sight by way of this sporting event. Irving "Boots" Silverfield was made chairman that first year and continued his chairmanship for 24 years. During these years, the games grew from a Jefferson County activity into a statewide playoff series.
It was in the state's premier East-West year that Alabama Lions organized Alabama Lions Sight Conservation Association, Inc. as a statewide project. However, the organization had no substantial source of income. The proceeds from East-West Baseball were then earmarked for Alabama Sight, and for that first year these funds were Alabama Lions Sight's sole support. East-West proceeds, Lions Club donations, corporate and individual dollars have been the support of the organization since that time.
East-West Baseball is rich in tradition. Such baseball greats as Frank "Pig" House, Detroit Tigers; J. C. Powers, Pittsburgh Pirates; Frank & Milt Bolling, Boston Red Sox; Bill Oliver and Allen Koch who played for the old Birmingham Barons; all represented their high schools in the East-West Games. In more recent years, several well-known stars, Charlie "Butch" Moore, Britt Burns, Jay Tibbs, Steve Shields, all played in the games. Present day stars include Mike Mordecai, Montreal Expos; Rusty Greer, Texas Rangers; Russ Davis, Seattle Mariners; Jimmy Key, Baltimore Orioles; Jeff Brantley, St. Louis Cardinals; Turner Ward, Pittsburgh Pirates; Brian Meadows, Florida Marlins; Todd Jones, Detroit Tigers; Jeff Branson, Cleveland Indians; Scott Sullivan, Cincinnati Reds; Terry Adams, Chicago Cubs; and Kerry Lacy, Boston Red Sox.