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The night time, 50 years in the past, when 22 Corridor of Famers performed in an All-Star Sport for the ages

The best heart fielder ever was there that magical and historic night time at Tiger Stadium 50 years in the past for the All-Star Sport in Detroit. There was additionally the all-time chief in RBIs and complete bases, the “Hit King” and “Mr. October.” So, too, had been the very best catcher, best-throwing outfielder and greatest defensive third baseman ever.

“All of your baseball playing cards got here to life,” stated Joe Torre, who began at third base for the Nationwide League staff. “It was like strolling into the Corridor of Fame. You say, ‘Wow, all of those guys are all Corridor of Famers.’ You are still gaga over it.”

Finally, 22 gamers and managers from that recreation would make it to Cooperstown, 17 would win an MVP and 7 would earn a Cy Younger, making this night time maybe the best assortment of expertise ever assembled on one area at one time within the historical past of baseball.

“I used to be in awe,” Torre stated. “I used to be main the league in hitting, however I used to be nonetheless overwhelmed.”

No different All-Star Sport has featured 20 Corridor of Fame gamers. Let all of the names on this area on this one night time sink in: Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Ron Santo, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Roberto Clemente, who would sadly be there for the ultimate time. The managers, the Orioles’ Earl Weaver and the Reds’ Sparky Anderson, are additionally within the Corridor of Fame.

“I used to be 23, it was my fourth All-Star Sport, however nonetheless, these had been my idols,” stated the Nationwide League catcher Johnny Bench, nearly unanimously thought-about the very best catcher ever. That night time, he caught the entire recreation. “They had been gods. You get to play together with your heroes. I used to be standing subsequent [to] McCovey, Al Kaline … I beloved Al Kaline. Once they got here to the plate, it was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”

There have been six residence runs hit within the recreation, essentially the most well-known by Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.

“It was an enormous thrill,” Jackson stated. “I keep in mind it being the primary recreation that two Black males began [on the mound]. It was the best gamers in historical past, like all the blokes with 3,000 hits.”

It was Corridor of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer’s second All-Star Sport.

“It was breathtaking being there, all these gamers, all these residence runs, multi functional recreation,” he stated. “It was unbelievable. It was so good, Pete Rose did not even begin. Inform him I stated that.”

Rose, the all-time chief in hits, not solely did not begin, he did not take an at-bat. He was within the on-deck circle when the final out was made.

“Once I performed the outfield,” stated Rose, who later grew to become an every-day infielder, “I needed to beat out Mays, Aaron and Clemente to start out. That was my competitors. I imply, c’mon.”

Corridor of Famer Juan Marichal threw two scoreless innings. Bench referred to as it one of the vital pleasing experiences he’d ever had. Marichal’s management was exact.

“I might have caught him with a pair of pliers,” Bench stated.

It made the job of the man behind the plate calling the sport fairly straightforward.

“The umpire requested if I ever threw a ball,” Marichal stated.

In 1971, Marichal had been an enormous leaguer 16 years and received 243 video games.

“I had been round a very long time, however I felt like a rookie with all these Corridor of Famers round me,” he stated.

Third baseman Brooks Robinson received extra Gold Gloves (16) than any place participant in historical past. He, too, was starstruck. However he additionally remembers one thing equally important, no less than to him.

“It was most memorable for me as a result of we [the American League] received,” he stated. “We had been part of numerous dropping.”

It was among the finest All-Star Video games ever performed. And it was over in a blink. The sport took solely 2 hours, 5 minutes, which is inconceivable in as we speak’s world the place the typical time is 3 hours, 10 minutes. The lineups had been chosen by a computerized poll. Hank Aaron acquired essentially the most votes. Tigers Corridor of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer threw out the ceremonial first ball at Tiger Stadium. The wind was howling in Detroit.

“I performed in 17 All-Star Video games,” Rose stated. “The one one we misplaced was Detroit. Again then, it was about league delight. Henry and Willie by no means performed within the American League. Yastrzemski and Al Kaline by no means performed within the Nationwide League. One of the best speech I ever heard got here from Warren Giles, the president of the Nationwide League. He got here within the clubhouse yearly to speak to the gamers about profitable the sport. Veins had been protruding in his neck. He stated, ‘If we do not win this yr, you guys will not be making this staff subsequent yr!”’

All 10 runs had been scored by way of the house run, which occurs on a regular basis in as we speak’s recreation, however not again then, which made it much more important. Appropriately, given the historic assortment of expertise, the primary two batters of the sport had been Mays and Aaron, who would end their careers with a mixed 1,415 residence runs. That is how nice this recreation was: The 1-2 hitters had been maybe among the many 5 greatest gamers of all time. Mays is the best heart fielder ever and, apart from Babe Ruth, maybe the very best participant ever.

“The All-Star Sport was constructed for Willie Mays,” stated former teammate Felipe Alou.

Mays was going through the A’s 21-year-old Vida Blue, who would win the AL Cy Younger and MVP that season. He had 17 victories getting into the sport, most ever by a pitcher on the break within the All-Star Sport period. The earlier report was 16 by Bob Feller in 1941. Blue threw actually laborious, however he bought Mays to floor out to shortstop on a changeup to start out the sport.

“Willie yelled at me from the dugout, ‘I believed you threw laborious? The place is the fastball?!'” Blue stated.

Blue was opposed by the Pirates’ Dock Ellis, who was main the Nationwide League in victories and ERA on the break. Ellis, at all times outspoken, typically controversial, stated publicly that he did not assume Anderson would title him the beginning pitcher as a result of “baseball does not need two brothers to start out the All-Star Sport.”

However Anderson selected Ellis, marking the primary time that two Black pitchers had began an All-Star Sport.

The house run barrage started within the second inning, when Bench hit a large residence run to right-center area off Blue.

“It was one of many longest residence runs I’ve ever hit in my life,” Bench stated. “It is the All-Star Sport, so Vida goes to fuel it up. I will begin swinging as quickly as he releases it. It went into the higher deck. The digital camera could not even observe it, nobody might see the place it went as a result of it went by way of a tunnel in right-center area. The discuss once I bought again to the dugout was that these guys had by no means seen something hit that far. After all, a lot of them had by no means performed a recreation at Tiger Stadium of their life, both. It was superior.”

Within the third inning, Aaron got here to the plate with a .175 common and no extra-base hits in his profession in an All-Star Sport. Then, in his sixty fifth profession at-bat in an All-Star Sport, he hit a house run to proper area off Blue.

“I had by no means hit one,” Aaron stated 47 years later. “I wanted to hit one. I lastly bought one.”

The wind was blowing out that night time at Tiger Stadium, as a lot as 32 mph to proper area. Within the backside of the third inning, Jackson got here to the plate as a pinch hitter for Blue.

“So, I pinch hit within the third inning, and I believed, ‘Why aren’t they saving me for the massive second?”’ Jackson stated. “I used to be picked as substitute for the sport for Tony Oliva, who harm his knee. I keep in mind once I was packing my stuff to go to Detroit, [teammate] Sal [Bando] instructed me, ‘Buck, no matter you do, do not go there and strike out.’ Inside two pitches, it was 0-2. I stepped out of the field and I stated, ‘Oh my God,’ Sal stated, ‘Buck, do not strike out.’ So I choked up. Dock threw a ball. [The count] was 1-2. Then I hit this ball up into the lights. The wind was blowing out that day. I related with one. I used to be so proud. The very first thing that entered my thoughts once I was rounded third was, ‘OK Sal, I did not strike out.”’

It was one of many longest residence runs in main league historical past.

“No, it wasn’t, it was most likely 50 ft shorter than mine,” Bench stated, laughing.

The ball hit the sunshine transformer on the roof at Tiger Stadium. Estimates had been 520 to 540 ft.

“For him to try this and … be Reggie, he tried to take it to the aptitude of Willie Mays, to be a showman, and he was,” Bench stated. “He backed it up. Everybody within the dugout got here out to have a look at it as a result of they knew it was historic. Reggie had his chest out, he had the bounce going.”

Palmer was warming up within the bullpen on the time.

“As quickly as Reggie hit that ball … the place went utterly silent as a result of everybody was watching the place it could land,” Palmer stated. “It if hadn’t hit {the electrical} field, it could have gone out of the stadium. If it had hit the lights, it could have been like Robert Redford in ‘The Pure.”’

Jackson made a gradual trot across the bases, as he ought to have after a blast like that.

“Al Kaline stated to me it was the longest ball he had ever seen hit, and that meant rather a lot to me as a result of he had performed there, his residence ballpark, he had seen a number of balls hit over the roof,” Jackson stated. “If you ran across the bases, Willie McCovey was at first. Joe Torre was hitting most likely .380 at the moment, Johnny Bench was catching, Mays and Aaron had been within the outfield. It was such a particular second for me in entrance of all these guys.”

Torre laughed when requested about Jackson’s residence run.

“Two issues I am well-known for in that All-Star Sport,” he stated. “When Reggie hit the transformer on the roof, as he [was] rounding third, you can see my ft, with my arms on my hips as he ran by me. The opposite factor in that recreation, Bobby Murcer hit a popup. It was a windy night time in Detroit. I stated, ‘I bought it! I bought it!’ When you say you’ve got bought it, you must take it. I am the third baseman. I ran throughout the mound and catch it at first base. I felt just like the silliest man on this planet once I stated, ‘I bought it.’ Then I believed, ‘Oh my, I do not know.’ So I bought over there and I caught the ball, thank goodness. And who’s trying down at me however Stretch McCovey. And he says, ‘What are you doing over right here?”’

Did Reggie say something to Torre as he was rounding third base?

“No,” Torre stated laughing. “He was too busy congratulating himself to speak to me. You already know that.”

Three batters later, Frank Robinson homered to proper area, breaking his 0-for-14 streak in All-Star Video games. Robinson, the one participant ever to win the MVP award in each leagues, grew to become the primary participant ever to hit a house run within the All-Star Sport for each leagues. It gave the AL a 4-3 lead. Robinson was named the MVP of the 1971 All-Star Sport.

“However my homer wasn’t near the place Reggie hit his,” Robinson stated.

Within the fourth inning, Palmer confronted Bench, whom he had confronted within the 1970 World Sequence, which was received by the Orioles primarily due to Brooks Robinson’s sensible protection at third.

“God despatched Brooks to play third base within the ’70 World Sequence,” Rose stated. “He caught the whole lot however a chilly.”

And he did so within the 1971 All-Star Sport, together with in opposition to Bench.

“I made Brooks the MVP by hitting 14 rockets at him and he fielded all of them,” Bench stated. “The second time up within the All-Star Sport, I hit a BB to 3rd. He simply scooped it up prefer it was nothing. I threw my arms up within the air. I pointed proper at him and he simply laughed.”

Brooks Robinson laughed about it 50 years later.

“Johnny hit a bullet, a one-hopper to my left, I made an excellent play on it, and threw him out,” he stated. “Years and years later, I noticed a movie clip of that All-Star Sport and it jogged my memory of the 1970 World Sequence when … I did nicely. So I am watching this clip and I see Johnny take two steps out of the field and he threw his bat up within the air and if to say, ‘Oh no, not once more.’ I might by no means seen that earlier than.”

The house runs continued within the sixth when Harmon Killebrew took Ferguson Jenkins deep. And within the eighth, in what could be the ultimate at-bat in an All-Star Sport for the good Roberto Clemente, he homered to proper area off Mickey Lolich to chop the result in 6-4.

Lolich, the ace of the Tigers, pitched a scoreless ninth for the save, getting Bench to come out for the ultimate out. It was the AL’s first victory for the reason that 1962 recreation. It made up for, to a point, the crushing defeat for the AL the yr earlier than when Rose barreled over AL catcher Ray Fosse to attain the profitable run within the 1970 recreation, prompting Senators outfielder Frank Howard to say to Palmer as they walked off the sphere in defeat, “Oh, f— these NL guys.”

That is how the sport was performed again then — for delight.

“The NL at all times kicked our butts,” Jackson stated. “It was lastly good to win one.” And the way typically, 50 years later, does somebody point out his residence run within the 1971 All-Star Sport?

“It does come up fairly a bit,” Jackson stated. “I by no means get uninterested in folks telling me I used to be good.”

Every part was good concerning the 1971 All-Star Sport, the night time that maybe the best assortment of expertise of all time assembled on one area.

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