This day in baseball history

The 1958 Major League All Star game was played on July 8 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The American Leage came from behind to win 4-3.

The hero was 24 year-old lefthander Billy O’Dell of the Orioles. O’Dell pitched three perfect innings of relief to close out the game and get the save. Early Wynn pitched a perfect 6th inning and got the win. In the 1957 All Star game, starting pitcher Jim Bunning had retired all nine National Leaguers he faced.

In those days, managers didn’t sub so much in the late innings of All Star games, so O’Dell faced some very good hitters. The nine he retired in order — Johnny Logan, Willie Mays, Lee Walls, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Thomas, Bill Mazeroski, and Del Crandall — included five future Hall of Famers.

A few footnotes on the game. The previous year, Cincinnati fans had stuffed the ballot and elected seven of the eight starters (there was no voting for pitcher). The one Redleg regular not elected was first baseman George Crowe, who would go on to lead the team in home runs. In 1958, Crowe was the only Cincinnati non-pitcher to make the All Star team. However, he did not play.

Journeyman infielder Rocky Bridges, who had been with Cincinnati briefly in 1957, was the lone representative of the Washington Senators (then as now every team got at least one) on the 1958 American League All Star team. Bridges hit .263 with five home runs in 116 games that year. He did not play in the All Star game.

Roy Sievers, who hit 39 home runs (19 of them before the All Star break) and drove in 108 with a .296 average, didn’t make the team. Sievers was not injured.

Casey Stengel preferred to carry two of his semi-regulars Elston Howard and Yogi Berra, neither of whom was anywhere near as productive as Sievers in 1958. This gave Stengel four cathers (Gus Triandos, the starter, and Sherm Lollar were the other two), though Howard and Berra also played some in the outfield. Sievers played first base in addition to the outfield. Stengel named Mickey Vernon, whose production was also quite inferior to that of Sievers, as his backup at first base. The outfielders named by Stengel, in addition to Howard/Berra, were Al Kaline and Ted Williams, about whose inclusion there can be no complaint.

Five years later, Ralph Houk, Stengel’s successor as Yankee manager, would name catcher Don Leppert as Washington’s All Star representative. Leppert was a borderline major leaguer. Houk used him to warm up his pitchers. But that year the Senators didn’t have a star like Sievers that Houk could have picked.

To comment on this post go here.


Books to read from Power Line