This day in baseball history

50 years ago today, baseball held its All Star game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. More precisely, it held the first of the two All Star games played in 1959. For this was the year when, in one of the worst decisions in sports history, baseball decided that one such game was not enough.

The National League won the July 7 game 5-4. It was a pitcher’s duel (Wynn and Duren for the American League; Drysdale and Burdette for the Nationals) until the bottom of the seventh inning, when the National League scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead. The American League then went ahead in the top of the eighth, scoring three runs. But the Nationals countered with two more in the bottom of the eighth, and Don Elston pitched a scoreless ninth to save the victory for Johnny Antonelli. Whitey Ford was the losing pitcher.

The striking thing about the game for me is the two different managerial philosophies on display. American League manager Casey Stengel employed the modern, play as many as possble approach. Only two of his starters (Minoso and Fox) went the whole way and he used nine of his non-pitcher reserves (all but Berra, his third catcher). National League manager Fred Haney played six of his starters (Aaron, Mays, Banks, Cepeda, Moon, and Crandall) for the entire game, and used only four non-pitcher reserves.

Haney’s approach may have been decisive: Banks and Crandall delivered key hits in the seventh and Aaron and Mays (a game-winning triple) did so in the eighth. Pinch-hitters Mazeroski (the home town hero) and Boyer also contributed timely hits during the two NL rallies.

Haney’s stick-with-the-starters approach may have made sense inasmuch there was a second All Star game to be played. Haney did manage to get nearly all of his remaining players into that contest, played on August 3 at the LA Coliseum, which the American League won 5-3. Oddly, though, Haney started Don Drysdale in both games. Perhaps he was trying to overload “Double D” and cause him to miss a start or two for L.A. (Haney’s Braves and Drysdale’s Dodgers would need extra games to determine a pennant winner — the Dodgers — in 1959).

The American League hung the loss on Drysdale in the second game. Jerry Walker, age 20 and a mermber of the Baltimore Orioles’ “Kiddie Korps,” started and won. Home runs by Malzone, Berra (both off of Drysdale) and Colovito (off of Face) were decisive.


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