Midsummer’s Night Classic


It began with an uncharacteristic speech in the clubhouse by the star veteran who channeled the past champions to motivate his teammates.

Then the troops took over.

The 2016 Major League All-Star Game held in San Diego, CA, in the shadows of the great aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Midway (CVA-41), was one of the best in a long time. The power of the American League was evident along with solid pitching.

In the end, it was the strength of the American League or more specifically, the Kansas City Royals. In Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals was named the MVP after collecting two hits, two RBIs and hitting a home run. And his teammate, Salvador Perez crushed a two-run homer as the American League won 4-2. Mets manager Terry Collins, who was the skipper for the NL squad, had certainly seen enough. Always classy in defeat, Newsday recounted this story: “We said the same thing,” Collins said of fans having flashbacks. “I’m tired of seeing (expletive) Eric Hosmer getting a big hit. (Expletive) sick of it.”

It’s tough being a Met.

It was the fourth straight victory for the Junior Circuit and sixteenth out of the last twenty. The record now stands at 43-42-2 with the National League leading. The latest tie of course was held in Milwaukee during the 2002 game when teams ran out of eligible players in extra innings.

It’s tough being a Brewer fan.

Next year, the 88th All-Star Game will be held in Miami. And if you have never attended this event, it is a ‘Must See’ on your bucket list.

Play Ball!

It Was Night

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It had never been done before. The All-Star game would be played at night.

Thanks to a three-run home run by Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr, the American League defeats the National League in the first night All Star game in 1943, 5-3. In a game broadcast to GIs via shortwave radio around the world, Pirates’ outfielder Vince DiMaggio stood out for the Senior Circuit, hitting a single, triple and home run. This, the 11th All-Star game, was held in Shibe Park in Philadelphia, baseball’s first steel and concrete stadium. Connie Mack, who owned the Philadelphia A’s and Shibe Park, tried to install lights in 1938 and overcame neighborhood objections to have the first night game played at Shibe Park just four years earlier than the All-Star game, on May 16, 1939.

Prior to this All-Star game, the first to be held at night, American League manager Joe McCarthy was publicly accused of being flagrantly partial to his own Yankees when it came to selecting his starters. In a bold and controversial reply, he played the entire game without calling on any of the five Yankees on his bench. Due to the war effort, many of the previous standout players such as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Johnny Mize, Pete Reiser, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller and others were absent.

In the first inning, the National League took the lead on a run batted in by Stan Musial, who was making his first of twenty-four straight All-Star appearances. The senior circuit did not hold their lead for long as the American League began its comeback against Mort Cooper. With the junior circuit now up 5-1, Vince DiMaggio stepped up for the National League. He had singled as a pinch-hitter in the fourth and stayed in the game. Next, he tripled off of Tex Hughson in the seventh and scored on a fly ball. In the ninth, he hit a long home run off Hughson. Still, Hughson managed to wrap up yet another American League win for their eighth All-Star victory, 5-3.

So as you settle into your viewing room seats this Tuesday, think back to the night of the first All-Star game. Now it’s time to…

Play Ball!

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For a look at some silent, black & white film footage of the game, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rTpEhLIa58. The film shows crowd shots. Billy Southworth, Manager of NL team and Joe McCarthy, Manager of AL team. Ford Frick, President of NL, Commissioner Landis and AL President Will Harridge. Crowd. In the first inning for NL Hack singles, Herman singles sending Hack to third, Musial hits long sacrifice fly scoring Hack (all against Dutch Leonard) Crowd. Mort Cooper pitching in second inning for NL, Chet Laabs walks, Bobby Doerr comes up and hits three run homer scoring Laabs and Jake Early who also had gotten on via a base on balls.

It Was A Season To Forget For 29 Others

The San Francisco Giants are champions of baseball, once again. Their sold out season at home was a testament to their power in the West and throughout all of the game. The center of attention come spring will be Scottsdale. That is where they will begin to defend their title this past season and second in the past three years. For other teams it was a season to forget.

In Miami, what should have been a season to remember, became a nightmare quicker than you can say Fidel Castro. Of course when Ozzie said those two words, the beginning of the end began. Ozzie is no longer the manager of the Miami Marlins. He’s out of the fish tank. Now he can spout off about the aged dictator in Cuba all he wants with his profanity laced vocabulary. Así que lo siento. Me encanta el béisbol.

In Boston there was a tea party like only Beantown can deliver. They had fired the most successful manager in their history, who won not one but two World Series supposedly because he had lost control of his team. Guys were actually drinking beer in the clubhouse. Imagine that. Baseball players drinking beer in the clubhouse. After that horrible discovery was blabbed throughout New England on every fish wrap and sports talk mediums, there was a long debate between the candidates they would select as the next great Red Sox manager. Suffice to say the guy they should have taken grabbed the job with the Cubs before the Red Sox decided on Bobby Valentine. Yikes!

In Philadelphia and Milwaukee, great pre-season pitching staffs do not materialize to automatically put them into the playoffs. In Minneapolis, they found out that you can’t have a team built around one high-priced catcher. On the North side of Chicago, Dale Sveum is facing, like others who have taken over that franchise before him, another losing season which must be followed with a winning season or Sveum will have swum. On the South side of Chicago, they let a season of great leadership by one of their own disintegrate in September. St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati had hopes crushed by the tidal wave known as the Giants. Arizona’s owner showed how he knows more about baseball than anybody because he has all the baseball cards Topps has ever printed. That makes him an authority. Unfortunately, Gibson can’t manage cardboard players. Houston was seen rushing over to the American League. They forgot to play ball in 2012.

Seattle had a season to remember. They gave up the greatest player in the game to the Yankees but had more great pitching performances at their stadium than anywhere on the planet ever. They are smiling in Seattle. Same with the fans in Washington, DC, where they were rewarded with a team that brought the city their first divisional championship. Quite an accomplishment for a City that had not seen a title winner since 1933.

Pittsburgh did it again. After a hot start, they faded badly. What do you expect from a team  that is managed by Clint Hurdle. Cleveland was never in the papers the entire season. Nor were the Padres. The New York Mets were non-factors this past season. Colorado disappeared in their own thin air plus their manager left after the season. Kansas City’s only claim to fame this season was hosting the All-Star game. The two ‘T-Towns’, Toronto and Tampa Bay had flashes of brilliance but not enough to put them in the big dance. On top of that, the Blue Jays lost their manager who became the head dude of the Boston Valentines.

Then there were the New York Yankees. The rapid loss of skills of A-Rod and the physical loss of The Captain, doomed the pinstripers this past season. In Dallas, the almost unexplainable coldness of Hamilton’s bat late in the season doomed the Rangers third attempt to win it all in three straight seasons. This franchise still hasn’t realized it needs pitching to win. Did you hear that Nolan Ryan? Remember what you did better than most? It wasn’t hitting. And what can you say about Detroit that hasn’t already been said?

That brings us to Baltimore. What a magical season Buck Showalter brought to baseball. 93 wins. Finally, Buck got his due. After rebuilding the Yankees and then getting fired; after building the Diamondback from scratch and setting all of the pieces together to win the World Series and got fired; after rebuilding the Rangers before he got fired; he took over a team that had won only 66 games the year before he got there and in two short years took them to the door of greatness.

Then there is Oakland and Billyball. The Athletics won the American League West title. And they played for the Championship of the American League. Go ahead. Name three players on the A’s besides Coco Crisp. They won an exciting 94 games. This was one of the most amazing stories in baseball. Billy Bean for President. He is the star of this franchise. Nobody understands the game better…on how to get the most out of talent like Mr. Bean.

On the other side of the equation is the Battle for LA. On one hand there is a billionaire who  bought a pig in a poke and thought he could win the American League pennant and finished third. On the other hand there are billionaires who not only  have to improve a team on the field but a stadium they play in and make it once again safe to go and see games. The Pujols Angels were only exciting because of one rookie. Their manager finally showed what he is made of. Arte has to take a look at his manager if he hopes to capture a title soon. As for the former LaLa Dodgers, they have gotten rid of all that has been bad over the past couple of years by taking out of the game the battling McCourts.

Which leads us to the Giants of San Francisco. Jack Elliot once said “Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game.” In the City by the Bay, men enjoyed playing baseball this season like few before them. The had food fights before the games. One of their biggest boosters was an injured pitcher who played Ernie Kovacs routine of The Nairobi Trio in the dugout during the game. There were more than smiles. There was laughter and joy of being in a game they love to play. Pandemonium ruled. They put new gas into the gashouse gang. Think of them as the laughing gasers. They have all winter to smile the smile of victory.

Play Ball!