The Major League Baseball All-Star Games of the Sixties

The National League had made inroads in trimming their Major League Baseball All-Star Game deficit against the American League to 16 wins for the AL to their 11.During the Sixties, a decade of radical change; results for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game would be changing too. What the American League had done to them, the National League was about to do, and more, during the thirteen Major League Baseball All-Star Games held from 1960-1969. So dominant would the NL prove to be, that before man would walk on the moon in 1969, the National League would be comfortably ahead of the American League in these Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

1960- The two-game format that baseball came up with in 1959 would continue for three more years. On July 11th, in Cleveland, the National League jumped out front 5-0, thanks in great part to homers from Ernie Banks and Del Crandall off of Boston’s Bill Monbouquette. A late inning Al Kaline blast could only make the final score 5-3. Banks once was quoted as saying, “The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose.” If this was true, then Ernie must have been the best sport of them all, the way the Cubbies found ways to reinvent losing each season. In game two of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game doubleheader of 1960, played two days later in Yankee Stadium, the NL rode homers from Eddie Matthews, Stan Musial, Ken Boyer, and Willie Mays to a 6-0 whitewashing of the American League. This Major League Baseball All-Star Game would be the great Ted Williams’ last one. He wound up hitting over .300 in these affairs, with four homers and a dozen RBI. A nineteen time All-Star, Williams passed the torch to Mays when he said, “They invented the (Major League Baseball) All-Star Game for Willie Mays.

1961- The first of the Major League Baseball All-Star Games this season was in windy Candlestick Park in San Francisco, on July 11th. The National League blew a two run lead in the ninth and fell behind in the tenth, only to have Willie Mays electrify the gathered masses with a game-tying double. Moments later, Roberto Clemente of the Pirates singled home Mays with the winning run. Mays always took a simplified view of the sport. “They throw the ball, I hit it. They hit the ball, I catch it.” The game made Candlestick infamous when a gust of wind literally blew Orioles’ pitcher Stu Miller off of the mound. In the second of the pair of Major League Baseball All-Star Games of ’61, on the last day of July at Fenway Park in Boston, pitching ruled. Rocky Colavito, who would hit a career best 45 homers for Detroit that season, hit a first inning rocket. That held up until the NL pushed across a lone run in the sixth. When the rain came down after nine innings, the game was ruled a 1-1 tie. It would be the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game tie, but there one day would be another, with more severe repercussions.

1962- The National League crept ever closer to tying the American League for total Major League Baseball All-Star Game wins on July 10th in the nation’s capital. The Dodgers’ shortstop and stolen base king, Maury Wills, proved to be the difference, as his blazing speed was responsible for a run in the sixth and another in the eighth of a 3-1 NL triumph. 1962 marked the first year that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game presented a Most Valuable Player trophy to the outstanding participant; Wills was the first man honored thusly. Longtime Dodger announcer Vin Scully once described Maury’s speed in this manner. “When he runs, it’s all downhill. The uphill battle the NL had fought to try to even up the Major League Baseball All-Star Game standings would have to continue for a bit more after the American League squad clobbered their NL counterparts in the second game of 1962, held at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 30th. The AL used home runs from Boston second baseman Pete Runnels, Detroit’s Rocky Colavito, and game MVP Leon Wagner of the Angels to pulverize the NL 9-4. Few could have foreseen that this success would be the last by the American side in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game for almost a decade.

1963- Stan Musial, the Cardinals’ wondrous outfielder, made his final Major League Baseball All-Star Game appearance in this July 9th tilt held in Cleveland. He lined out, finishing his career in the “Midsummer Classic” with 20 hits in 63 at bats and a record six homers. There was only a single Major League Baseball All-Star Game played in 1963, and from then on, as the twice-a-year format was deemed compromising to the contest’s integrity. Willie Mays stole the show, stealing a pair of bases, scoring twice, knocking in two, and robbing Joe Pepitone of the Yankees of extra bases with a remarkable catch. The “Say Hey Kid” was named the Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP of 1963 in the National League’s 5-3 win. A popular saying about his ability with radio broadcasters used to be, “The only man who could catch that ball just hit it.”

1964- Needing a win to finally even things up with the American League in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the NL got things done when they scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth at Shea Stadium on July 7th. With fireballing Red Sox relief ace Dick Radatz toeing the rubber in the last of the ninth, Willie Mays scored the tying run at 4-4 on an Orlando Cepeda bloop hit. Radatz, who for his career struck out more than a man an inning, got two outs, but a walk brought up Phillies’ outfielder Johnny Callison. He proceeded to hit a thrilling walk-off three-run homer into the right field stands to give the National nine a 7-4 win. Named the Major League Baseball All-Star Game’s MVP, Callison felt that it was just the start of a great summer for Philadelphia. “That homer was the greatest thrill of my life, but I remember thinking that it was only the beginning. It was going to be the Phillies’ year. We had everything going our way. Everything.” How could Callison know that the Phillies would suffer one of baseball’s most infamous collapses that September, and squander away a certain pennant?

1965- Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium was the scene for the 36th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 13th. With future Hall of Famers such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax on the NL roster, it was ironic that it took an infield hit from the Cubs’ Ron Santo to score the winning run. The final 6-5 NL victory gave the senior circuit its first advantage over the AL in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, 18-17-1. The “Dominican Dandy”, Juan Marichal, hurled three innings of one-hit ball to garner the MVP award. Cardinals’ ace Bob Gibson finished off the American league with two scoreless innings. One of the game’s fiercest competitors, Gibson once described himself like this, “In a world filled with hate, prejudice, and protest, I find that I too am filled with hate, prejudice, and protest.”

1966- It wasn’t the humidity; it was the 105 degree heat that was overwhelming as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played in sweltering Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 12th. Brooks Robinson, the “Human Vacuum Cleaner” was named MVP of the affair when he went 3 for 4, but the National League prevailed in ten innings on a Maury Wills RBI single. A young newspaper man asked Casey Stengal, who was in attendance, what he thought about the new ballpark. In typical “Stengalese” he replied, “Well, I’ll tell ya’ young fella, it sure seems to hold the heat real good.” Indeed, the conditions rendered the 2-1 National League victory almost an afterthought, but they now were two up on the AL in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game standings. This All-Star Game would turn out to be the last one for the great Sandy Koufax, who retired with an arthritic elbow at year’s end. Willie Stargell once described trying to hit Koufax as “like trying to drink coffee with a fork.”

1967- This Major League Baseball All-Star Game stood out for two reasons. It was the longest ever at fifteen innings, and featured a plethora of strikeouts, 30 in all. The National League won when MVP Tony Perez of the Reds hit a Catfish Hunter offering out of Anaheim Stadium on July 11th. All twelve pitchers had at least one strikeout, with the Cubs’ Ferguson Jenkins contributing six. The Dodgers’ Don Drysdale took the win. Known for not being shy about brushing a hitter back from the plate, Drysdale was on the downside of a brilliant career. Cardinals’ outfielder and long time broadcaster Mike Shannon once described how Drysdale felt about issuing an intentional walk. “Don Drysdale would consider an intentional walk a waste of three pitches. If he wants to put you on base, he can hit you with one pitch.” Don would be named to play in eight Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

1968- The “Year of the Pitcher” had the Major League Baseball All-Star Game final score that one would expect; a 1-0 game in the Houston Astrodome on July 9th. Willie Mays took home another MVP by simply scoring the game’s only run on a double play ball in the first inning. The American League managed only three hits; the NL couldn’t brag about its five. Boston’s Carl Yastzemski, who had won baseball’s last Triple Crown the year before, made the last out of this only 1-0 Major League Baseball All-Star Game when Tom Seaver fanned him. Yaz would have the dubious distinction of making the last out in the 1975 World Series and the 1978 playoff game against the Yankees as well.

1969. The decade of dominance closed with yet another Major League Baseball All-Star Game going to the National League. Mel Stottlemyre of New York and Oakland’s John “Blue Moon” Odom were tattooed for eight runs in less than three innings of work. Only Frank Howard of the hometown Senators gave the newly named RFK Memorial Stadium crowd in Washington anything to cheer about, with a home run in the 9-3 defeat on this July 23rd. Willie McCovey’s two homers helped him take home the MVP hardware, and made it easy to see why Casey Stengal had once asked his Mets, “How are we going to defend McCovey today? In the upper deck or lower deck?” The American League seemingly had no defense against the National when it came to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, who now owned a 22-17-1 edge in the win column. If the AL thought the Sixties were bad, they hadn’t contemplated the Seventies yet.

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