All-Star Game has rich tradition in Bronx
Three Midsummer Classics part of Yankee Stadium's long legacy
NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium has been the site of All-Star Games that were held in conjunction with a World's Fair, part of a brief time when two such games were played annually and during one of the city's hottest summers, figuratively and literally. The stars of the first two games, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays, were honorary captains of the third.
The National League won two of the three games, and oddly enough, was celebrated in "The House That Ruth Built," which served as a reminder that the American League's frequent champions are not the only game in town. Nevertheless, the Yankees were clearly the showcase of the first All-Star Game played in the Bronx, as manager Joe McCarthy started six of his Bombers, still the most players from one club in the starting lineup of a Midsummer Classic.
July 11, 1939: American League 3, National League 1.
New Yorkers were entertained that summer by the World's Fair across the East River in Queens, but the place to be on a picture post-card afternoon was the Bronx. The game drew a crowd of 62,892, most of whom were delighted to see a half-dozen of their Yankees favorites trot onto the field for the first inning. In addition to the battery of pitcher Red Ruffing and catcher Bill Dickey, four other Yankees were in the AL starting lineup -- second baseman Joe Gordon, third baseman Red Rolfe, left fielder George Selkirk and center fielder Joe DiMaggio.
NL manager Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs countered with a starting lineup containing five players from the Reds, who would go on to win the pennant that year, but would get swept by the Yankees in the World Series. It cost the Cincinnati club $8,000 for pitcher Paul Derringer to make his starting assignment because of a court order against him stemming from a physical altercation with a city official three years earlier. Also starting for the Reds were catcher Ernie Lombardi, first baseman Frank McCormick, second baseman Lonnie Frey and right fielder Ival Goodman.
The NL took a 1-0 lead in the third. Frey doubled home Pirates shortstop Arky Vaughan with one out, but Ruffing kept the inning from exploding. After an intentional walk to Goodman filled the bases, Ruffing caught McCormick looking at a third strike and got Lombardi on an infield pop.
The AL took the lead in the fourth off Cubs right-hander Bill Lee. With one out, Dickey walked, and Tigers first baseman Hank Greenberg singled. Lee struck out Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin, but Selkirk's low liner to right fell for a single, tying the score. Vaughan bobbled a hard grounder by Gordon for an error that allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Goodman made a diving attempt for Selkirk's hit, but the ball came loose. He finished the inning, but was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital after coming off the field, and was diagnosed with a separated left shoulder. It revived memories of Dizzy Dean's foot injury in the 1937 All-Star Game at Washington, although Goodman returned in the second half of the season for the Reds, and hit .333 in the World Series.
DiMaggio gave Yankees fans a treat with two down in the fourth when he homered on a liner down the left-field line. The game was largely uneventful after that, except for the remarkable relief performance by the Indians' Bob Feller. Then 20, the flame-throwing right-hander held the NL to one hit in 3 2/3 scoreless innings, technically pitching 2/3 more innings than allowed in All-Star Games that do not go extras.
The NL tried to muster some drama in the ninth. Giants right fielder Mel Ott, not as soundly booed as his manager, who was one of the NL coaches that day, Bill Terry, led off with a single to center. One out later, the Cardinals' Johnny Mize, a threat to reach the Stadium's right-field porch, batted as a pinch-hitter, but Feller froze him with a fastball for a called third strike.
Cubs third baseman Stan Hack was also called out on strikes to end the game, but he was so incensed with the call on the last pitch that he threw his bat to the ground and followed plate umpire George Magerkurth into the runway. Imagine how much madder Hack would have been if he had known Feller should have been taken out before he and Mize came up?
July 13, 1960: National League 6, American League 0.
Former New York heroes, Mays, of the Giants, and Johnny Podres, of the Dodgers, returned to the city in triumph as the NL completed a sweep of the two All-Star Games, following by two days a 5-3 victory at Kansas City. This was the second season of a four-year stretch when two All-Star Games were played annually to fuel the players' pension fund. That only 38,362 people attended the game at the Stadium was an indication that two is not always better than one.
The Yankees had five starters this time, none having much impact. First baseman Moose Skowron singled in his only at-bat, but center fielder Mickey Mantle, right fielder Roger Maris and catcher Yogi Berra combined to go 1-for-10. Whitey Ford, who was credited with the loss, worked the first three innings, allowing three runs on five hits, including a two-run home run by Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews in the second, and a solo shot by Mays in the third.
Cardinals teammates Stan Musial and Ken Boyer also homered. Musial, appearing in his 19th All-Star Game, was cheered loudly as he rounded the bases in the seventh on his sixth career All-Star Game home run, still a record. In his 18th and final All-Star Game, Red Sox legend Ted Williams singled to right as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Mays, who starred for the New York Giants across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds before the Giants left town in 1957, was the game's MVP, with three hits and a stolen base. Berra made a good play to trap Mays in a rundown between home and third in the first inning, the only blemish on the Say Hey Kid's day. Podres was one of six NL pitchers who combined for the eight-hit shutout, the same result the left-hander had fashioned all by himself in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series against the Yankees when he finished off Brooklyn's only World Series championship.
In a way, New York's NL fans got a glimpse of what they had been missing for three years. During the pre-game introductions, Mays and Podres were cheered louder than any of the Yankees players. Mantle, in fact, heard many boos, which was not unusual in those days, before his rivalry with Maris for the home run titles that year and in 1961 brought fans to his side.
Maris, in his first season with the Yankees, during which time he was the Major Leagues' home run leader, did not distinguish himself with his new hometown audience. Twice he stranded the bases loaded, although in each case two were out. In the second against Podres, Maris popped out to Braves catcher Del Crandall.
Williams' hit in the seventh off Cardinals right-hander Larry Jackson came two outs after a leadoff walk to Red Sox third baseman Frank Malzone. The Tigers' Al Kaline walked, filling the bases again for Maris, who made better contact this time, but flied out to Mays in center.
The All-Star Games that year were showcases for Mays, who was a combined 6-for-8 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, two runs, one RBI and two stolen bases. The only thing that went wrong for Mays was that his glove was stolen in Kansas City, which forced him to play the game at the Stadium with one he borrowed from Pirates reliever Elroy Face.
July 19, 1977: National League 7, American League 5.
This was the summer of "The Bronx is Burning," and there was plenty of heat at the Stadium. Temperatures had reached 102 degrees in Central Park at midday, and were still in the 90s with intense humidity at game time in the Bronx. Also heated up was AL manager Billy Martin of the Yankees, although his ire was aimed this time not in the direction of owner George Steinbrenner or right fielder Reggie Jackson, but rather Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan.
Baseball's eventual strikeout king was miffed at not being named originally to the AL staff, so much so that when teammate Frank Tanana developed a shoulder injury requiring his removal from the roster, Ryan refused to take his place. Martin said he would have started Ryan, but that didn't alter the situation. The Orioles' Jim Palmer made the start.
The game, which drew a sellout crowd of 56,683 to the Stadium in what was then its second season since being renovated, was dedicated to Jackie Robinson in the 30th anniversary year of his breaking the color barrier. Pregame ceremonies included an invocation by Terrence Cardinal Cooke, Pearl Bailey performing "America the Beautiful" and opera baritone Robert Merrill singing the national anthem. With honorary captains DiMaggio and Mays at her side, Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
She fared better than Palmer, who was tagged for a leadoff home run by Reds second baseman Joe Morgan, an RBI double by the Reds' George Foster and a two-run homer by Phillies left fielder Greg Luzinski, all in the first inning. Two innings later, it was 5-0 after Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey homered.
NL starter Don Sutton of the Dodgers held the AL to one hit and one walk with four strikeouts in three scoreless innings, and was later named the game's MVP. Sutton spoke about he had longed to pitch at the Stadium, having grown up in Alabama as a Yankees fan. It would not be his last visit there that season. He and the Dodgers returned in October for the World Series.
The AL did not score until the sixth, on a bases-loaded double by White Sox left fielder Richie Zisk off Tom Seaver, who received the loudest ovation during introductions, and again when he entered the game. It had been slightly more than a month since he was traded by the Mets to the Reds as the result of a contract squabble. That inning, Seaver took a shot off his arm by Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph but recovered to throw him out.
In the seventh, Randolph wounded Seaver again with an RBI single that made the score 5-3, but the right-hander limited the damage with a strikeout of pinch hitter Ron Fairly of the Blue Jays, who were then in their maiden season.
The last two innings were rough for the Yankees. Reliever Sparky Lyle, who would win the AL Cy Young Award that year, allowed three hits, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in the eighth, allowing the NL to score two runs, both off a single by the Padres' Dave Winfield.
The AL retaliated with two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a home run by Red Sox first baseman George Scott off Pirates reliever Goose Gossage. Before Scott's home run, Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles struck out. After Scott's homer, Randolph grounded out and Yankees catcher Thurman Munson struck out.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.