The All-Star Game for Me…
The All-Star game is fast approaching and at least three Twins are going to be there…Johan Santana, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter. Pat Neshek also has a chance on the last ballot.
I know that I’m in the minority, but the All Star game is still a big deal for me. When I was growing up, the games were played in the middle of the day. Regardless of what else was happening in my little world, it stopped or was put aside for awhile as I intently watched Mays, Killebrew, Koufax etc…compete for the claim of baseball’s best league.
Back in those days, the National League won almost every year to the point where it became a ritual. Back then, they did have superior talent and it showed. Ask Joe Torre what his biggest thrill as a player was and he’ll tell you it was catching the entire 1965 All Star game at Metropolitan Stadium and catching Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal in the same game. Four Hall of Famers pitched against the American League in the same game! No wonder the National League won.
The National League dominance extended into the early 80’s. In 1982, in Montreal to cover Kent Hrbek’s All Star appearance for a local station, I heard first hand why the National League held the edge for all those years. At the press conference the day before the game, the American League captain, Carlton Fisk was asked about the superiority of the National League. He said that there was no imbalance of talent and that the American League approached the game as an exhibition and downplayed the significance of the outcome. The National League captain that year was Pete Rose. When it was his turn at the microphone, he didn’t even have to be asked a question before stating that the National League WAS better and that they intended to prove it the next night and that "losing ******!" Of course, Pete epitomized the intensity the National League brought to the All Star game. In fact, I ran into Ray Fosse at our hotel the other night…sorry bad pun. After chatting for awhile and going off on our separate ways, I couldn’t help identifying Fosse to my family as the guy Pete Rose flattened in the All Star game a long time ago.
Now, both leagues treat the game as an exhibition. Lately, the American League has won most the of the games. While I won’t be going to San Francisco( I have gone to six All Star games as a fan), I will be there intently watching. I’ll be hoping Johan pitches a couple of shutout innings…that Justin clubs a homerun and that Torii robs Barry again!!!!