Twin Cities are steeped in All-Star tradition
Target Field joins legacy started at Old Met in 1965, Metrodome in '85
Pages in the old scorebook are tattered and torn, yellow and even somewhat moldy.
But when I turned to the page with the 1965 All-Star Game, it didn't matter.
There was no mistaking the first inning at Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium.
First inning: A big home run for Willie Mays, who led off the game. I scribbled: Milt Pappas' second pitch, to lower LC seats, 415 feet. 21st All-Star hit.
Then, with one out, there was a single by Willie Stargell. With two down, I wrote: A big HR for Joe Torre. His two-run homer put the National League up, 3-0, before many in the crowd of 46,706 found their seats.
As I sat in the press box that humid July 13 afternoon, I had no idea that 19 of the All-Stars I was watching would end up in the Hall of Fame.
"Needless to say, it was my biggest thrill in All-Star Games," Torre related over the phone Sunday night. "I played in nine All-Star Games and had just one other hit, a single in the 1972 game."
Torre, then the Milwaukee Braves' catcher, added: "Little did I know when I hit that home run I'd be catching all nine innings for the NL. Gibby [St. Louis pitcher Bob Gibson] came in to pitch the last two innings after we took the lead in the seventh and got the save.
"This turned out to be one of my favorite stories with Gibby. Tony Oliva led off the ninth and we got two quick strikes. I was debating with myself whether to go out and tell Gibby I wanted the fastball up and in and not down and in. I finally decided to go to the mound and Gibby completely ignored me. He would up throwing the fastball down and in. Tony doubled to left-center. Gibby then struck out the next three batters.
"After the game, as luck would have it, he and I were the last two in the shower, and when I congratulated him, he still didn't say anything. I still call him a [bleep] for that."
The '65 All-Star Game was the sixth of 46 I've covered during this 56-year trek through Major League Baseball.
Another was in 1985 at the Metrodome.
And on Tuesday night, the Midsummer Classic -- baseball's is by far best of the All-Star showcases -- returns to Minnesota, where four-year-old Target Field will be unveiled to a national audience.
Each of the games in the Twin Cities was important to me -- 1965 because Phillies manager Gene Mauch, who I grew up with as a young reporter, was chosen to skipper the NL squad. He stepped in for Johnny Keane, who after guiding the St. Louis Cardinals to the '64 World Series title, left to manage the Yankees.
There's enormous irony here, because 1964 was the year Mauch's Phillies blew the NL pennant when they were involved in one of baseball's greatest collapses. Had the Phillies gone to the World Series, Mauch would have been the NL All-Star manager anyway.
During this era, players throughout the Major Leagues chose the starting All-Stars, while the managers selected the pitchers and remaining players for the 25-man squads.
The 1985 game was just as special because Sparky Anderson and Dick Williams, who faced each other as the Tigers swept the Padres in the '84 Series, were two of my favorite and most accessible skippers.
In 1965, the favored American League erased a 5-0 NL lead to tie the game after five innings.
In the seventh, however, against Sam McDowell, Ron Santo singled home Mays with what would become the winning run in a 6-5 victory. It was the NL's third consecutive victory, and for the first time since the first contest in 1933, the NL had a winning record in All-Star Games, 18-17.
Mays homered, walked twice and scored the deciding run. He would win the NL MVP Award after the season.
Willie's San Francisco Giants teammate, Juan Marichal, was the All-Star Game MVP. The high-kicking right-hander was brilliant during the first three innings. He faced just nine batters and yielded only one hit, a third-inning leadoff single by Vic Davalillo who was erased when Earl Battey bounced into a double play.
I noted in my scorebook that Al Kaline grounded out to Richie Allen at third base to complete Marichal's three near-perfect innings.
It was Mays' 16th All-Star Game and the fourth for Marichal.
When I walked out of Metropolitan Stadium in the early evening hours, little did I know I'd be returning in a few weeks to watch the Dodgers win the World Series in seven games over the Twins.
In that same scorebook, on Oct. 14, I have Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beating Jim Kaat and the Twins, 2-0, in Game 7.
The game moved indoors when it returned to the Twin Cities on July 16, 1985, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. We used to call it "the Homerdome."
And with the powerful boppers the AL brought to the '85 game, it's hard to believe the Dick Williams-guided NL squad would prevail, 6-1.
Obviously, the venue was of no help to the AL.
And it was only fitting that a pitcher, this time San Diego's LaMarr Hoyt, would become MVP. He turned in three solid innings, allowed just two hits and the AL's only run, which was unearned.
Jack Morris, pitching for the Tigers, allowed five hits and two runs during his 2 2/3 innings and took the loss.
"I didn't pitch as well as I would have liked," Morris said after the game. "I had a lot of rest and was probably rushing too much with my pitches."
Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, in his sixth and final All-Star Game and representing the Padres, blanked the AL in the ninth inning to preserve the win.
"I got more excited in All-Star Games than I did even in the World Series," Gossage said over the phone on Sunday. "Just being in the locker room with so many great players was exciting.
"I could never understand why players chosen for the All-Star Game didn't want to go, that they would have rather have the time off. It was always a great privilege for me to be selected."
When I asked what Gossage remembered about the 1985 game, he said, "Hey, I was a relief pitcher. I was taught not to remember previous outings."
I refreshed his memory from my old scorecard: Alan Trammell bounced out, Wade Boggs walked, Jim Rice fanned on a 3-2 pitch and Rich Gedman struck out. End of game, end of Gossage's All-Star career.
That Gossage nailed the win for the NL was comforting, he said, because "I never liked the Metrodome. I'm sure glad they got a new stadium there. Target Field should be wonderful for Tuesday night's game."
And probably enough memories to fill a new scorecard.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.