Major League Baseball’s All Star Game is Tuesday in Minneapolis. How convenient it should coincide with one of the most significant cool summertime air masses we’ve seen in some time. The obvious question people will ask is, “Will this be the coldest All Star Game ever?”
The answer is a solid “maybe.” There are a number of ways we could analyze which MLB All Star Game was the coldest, but because historical weather information isn’t always easy to come by, it’s somewhat challenging. I’ve decided to sort each game by the daily average temperature, pick out the coldest, see how their hourly observations were, then cross check it vs. any games on days where the low temperature was colder than the coldest hourly temperature in the original group of games.
For 2014, I have followed the National Weather Service forecast for Minneapolis on Tuesday, which suggests 68/53 for a max/min temperature. Let’s see how it stands up (click to enlarge).
The forecast average in Minneapolis Tuesday is 60.5°. At least on a daily average basis, the 2014 All Star Game probably wouldn’t be the coldest. I’ve identified seven previous All Star Games to average 65° or cooler. The games?
1963: Cleveland, OH (Avg 56°)
1983: Chicago, IL (Avg 58.5°)
1984: San Francisco (Avg 61.5°)
1987: Oakland (Avg 64°)
1991: Toronto (Avg 65°)
1999: Boston (Avg 63°)
2007: San Francisco (Avg 64°)
Minneapolis would rank 3rd coldest on that metric, if the current forecast verifies. From this list, we can eliminate Toronto right away, as that was at the SkyDome, which is obviously an indoor event. Let’s look at the others.
I learned that the 1963 game, thanks to some Google sleuthing, was played at 1 PM in Cleveland. According to Weather Underground’s wonderful data archive (unofficial, but usually good), temperatures went from 66° at 1 PM to 67° at 2, back down to 65° at 3 PM, and finished at 66° by 4 PM. The game took 2:20 to play, so it was over by 3:30 PM. So, with gametime temps of 65-67°, despite averaging the coldest, the 1963 Cleveland game was probably not the coldest ever.
The 1984 game in San Francisco began at 5:30 PM and took less than 2:30 to complete. Temperatures went 65, 63, 60, 57° from 5-8 PM. Assuming the game ended around 8 PM local time, then the 57° in San Francisco bests Chicago the year before.
The 1987 affair in Oakland also began at 5:30 PM. That game took a more liberal 3:39 to complete. Weather observations from Oakland cut out early in the morning that day, so we’ll look across the bay at San Francisco. This isn’t the most ideal methodology (as someone who forecasts for California, I am well aware that the Bay Area can be different worlds from one side to the other at times), but it will work for our purposes. Temperatures read: 67, 65, 62, 59, 58° from 5 to 9 PM during that game. So we can assume that either Oakland or San Francisco hold the coldest temperature thus far.
Let’s jump to 1999 in Boston. The game started at 8:50 PM and went 2:53. So, just under 3 hours. Let’s look at a 9 PM-Midnight temps in Boston: 61, 61, 61, 61°. So Boston falls short.
We’ll jump back to the Bay Area for 2007. That game began just before 6 PM local time and went just over 3 hours. So the 6-9 PM obs in San Francisco? 66, 65, 64, 64°. So this missed the 1980s temps in both San Francisco and Oakland.
So now to ensure that we didn’t miss anything by looking exclusively at average temperatures, let’s look at all other MLB All Star Games that featured a low temperature the day-of that was under 57°.
1959: Pittsburgh (53°)
1961: San Francisco (56°)
1994: Pittsburgh (55°)
From the “Did You Know?” files: Two All Star Games were played from 1959-1962. But, hey, an All Star Game is an All Star Game.
The 1959 contest at Forbes Field was the first one that season. First pitch was a cool 1 PM. The game lasted about 2:30, and with temperatures in the 70s throughout, it was a great day to be in Pittsburgh and not in the running for coldest.
In 1961, the San Francisco game was also the first of the two played that year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that game was a 1:30 first pitch. It went a bit under 3 hours. Looking at the 1 PM through 4 PM obs in San Francisco, they stayed in the upper 70s. Of course, with 25-30 mph winds, that clearly made things entertaining. But, it falls well short on the cold scale.
Lastly, 1994 in Pittsburgh again, the only All Star Game I own a program from. Game began at 8 PM, and temperatures fell from the 80s into the 70s. A warm night in Pittsburgh.
So, thus, by deductive reasoning, the 1984 All Star Game in San Francisco likely marked the coldest temperature in an All-Star Game at 57°F. Arguably, it could have been matched by Oakland in 1987, but for our purposes, that’s not vital at the moment.
In order for the 2014 All-Star Game to be the coldest ever, we’ll need to see game time temperatures hit 57° or lower. I mentioned the Tuesday forecast above. It’s going to be a close call. Raw weather model data suggests temperatures in the mid 50s or even low 50s by Wednesday morning. We would want to have somewhat ideal radiational cooling conditions in Minneapolis Tuesday evening to get a quick, steady drop in temperature from the forecast high of about 68° during the afternoon. Ideal radiational cooling in summer would be clear skies and light winds (in winter, you would add fresh snowpack to the equation). I think those conditions may exist Tuesday night. It’s possible that you see temperatures drop faster on Tuesday evening than they do Monday, but have a cooler low temperature Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Regardless, I think it’s a good bet we see gametime temperatures in the 50s at some point, and a 57° or lower reading can’t be ruled out. If I had to assign odds, I’d go about 30% right now. Time will tell!