The 1975 All-Star Game
Stephen sends the time machine back three decades.
Give me 1975. Bring me back to the year when the record of the year
was “I Honestly Love You,” by Olivia Newton-John. Okay, the tune was
a little soft, but she sure was hot, wasn’t she? The big movies were
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Jaws.” We don’t see
great televisions shows any more like “All in the Family,” “The
Jefferson’s,” and “Sanford and Son.” Has it really been 30
Give me baseball, circa 1975. Steroid free baseball. Colorful
uniforms, nicknames, and mustaches. The images of all the baseball
cards from the 1975 Topps set are forever burned in my brain.
The first All-Star game I remember watching was the 1975 game.
Recently, I had the pleasure of watching the 1975 All-Star game all
again, commercials and all. All of its splendor was enjoyed as much at
39, as when I first saw it as a 9-year-old boy. That All-Star Game
serves as a wonderful snapshot of the classic era, and it serves as a
great comparison to the game of baseball as it exists today.
The venue was Milwaukee’s County Stadium, which was a timely
selection to host the All-Star game. The year before, Hank Aaron hit
homerun number 715. This was the first of two years Aaron spent with
the Brewers, to wind up his distinguished career.
The distinctive voices covering the game were of Kurt Gowdy and Joe
Garagiola. Gowdy’s voice takes you instantly back to the 1970’s.
He was one of the best baseball commentators we’ve had.
As the National League players are called out onto the field, with the
organ music bellowing, the viewer quickly realizes that the Reds and
Dodgers alone could probably supply all NL players necessary for the
game. For the Reds there were Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench,
Concepcion, and Tony Perez. Representing the Dodgers were Steve
Ron Cey, Jimmy Wynn, Andy Messersmith, Mike Marshall, and Don
was sporting his new afro look.
The year before Steve Garvey was a write-in starter at first base; he
even won the MVP Award for the prior All-Star game. Joe Morgan’s
numbers at the All-Star break were quite impressive: .345 average, 13
homeruns, and sixty RBI’s. He was also leading the NL in steals and
The American League was colorfully represented by numerous players from
the three-peat World Champion Oakland A’s: Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi,
Gene Tenace, Bert Campaneris, Claudell Washington, Vida Blue, and
Fingers. (Catfish Hunter was at the game as well, but he was now a
member of the Yankees.) One has to guess that A’s owner Charlie
Finley had something to do with the uniform selections for his
ballplayers. Many were in green jerseys, many in yellow jerseys, and
19-year Washington was in a white jersey. Finley, however, could never
be upstaged. Before the game he wore a huge, green “57 gallon hat,”
as he passed out orange baseballs to the fans.
Bobby Bonds, now with Yankees, was the lead off hitter for the AL. One
cannot help but take notice of the slender frame of the power hitter,
which was very reminiscent of the Barry Bonds frame when he played for
the Pirates. For that matter, in 1975, not one player in the All-Star
game had the distorted muscle bound physique that you see today in many
contemporary players, such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark
The game has certainly changed.
Rod Carew was the top vote getter for the AL. At the break he was
hitting a typical .373. The commentators agreed that if any current
player was going to hit .400, it would be Rod Carew. An obvious
For the Orioles, Jim Palmer appeared in the hottest orange colored
jersey I have ever seen. When it came time for Hank Aaron to be
announced, they replayed Aaron’s 715th homerun, and the home town fans
became hysterical. This was Aaron’s 24th All-Star game, which tied
him with Willie Mays and Stan Musial, for playing in the most All-Star
games in history: twenty-four. The extremely long standing ovation was
well deserved by the classy, humble, and talented Aaron.
Honorary Captains for the game were Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial.
Gowdy and Garagiola both thought the Honorary Captains idea was a great
Walter Alston, the skipper for the NL, had Pete Rose leading off, and
Lou Brock hitting second. The announcers wondered why the NL didn’t
start with Lou Brock hitting first and Rose hitting second. If I were
managing, I too would have had Brock leading off, and Rose hitting in
the two spot. In any event, Rose opened the game by greeting Vida Blue
with a single right up the middle. Although Rose has certainly had his
problems in recent years, he sure was a heck of a ballplayer. On a
single by arm-twitching Morgan, Rose came barreling into third base
his patented “Pete Rose Head First Slide.” Rose was tagged out by
Graig Nettles, but Rose’s energy, determination, and grittiness are
something to marvel at. What a player.
When Bench came to the plate, a pre-game interview with the 8-time
All-Star was shown on the screen. He was described by the announcers
possessing “natural personality and poise.” He was asked what his
goals were coming into the All-Star game. Bench replied that his goal
was “to get out of the game before Niekro comes in.” Earlier in
1975, Bench was married to Vickie Chesser. A picture of the couple at
their wedding was put on the air for a moment. (They were soon to be
divorced the following year.)
Another pre-game interview was shown. Thurman Munson was asked about
his thoughts coming into the All-Star game. Munson responded that his
mind was clearly NOT on the All-Star game at all. He explained, “My
wife Diana is expecting a baby any time now. I wish her luck, and I
wish I could be there with her.” This makes the heart quite heavy
indeed . . . knowing that Munson would die in the plane crash in 1979.
In the second inning, the Dodgers players put on a hitting clinic.
Garvey and Wynn hit back-to-back homeruns. A third Dodger, Cey was
to step to the plate, and he wanted to go yard too. On a 3 and 0
he took a hack at the next pitch and laced a very hard single to left.
A trivia question was posed to the viewers. “When was the last time
there were back-to-back homers in an All-Star game?” Answer: 1956,
by Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, off Warren Spahn.
Does anyone remember when there were only two commercials between
innings? Oh, those were the days. They ran a Chrysler ad with
Garagiola over and over again. It became somewhat nauseating. Tom
Seaver came on to try and sell eye drops. He said, “Murine 2-it’s
like having another right arm.” Who wrote that crap? You don’t see
many commercials for Schlitz Beer any more. I love their slogan: “Go
for the gusto, or don’t go at all.” Now that’s good marketing.
In the third inning, Brock singled. The year before Brock had stolen a
(then) record 118 bases. Whenever he reached base, he would breath
into the opposing pitcher. Pitcher Steve Busby of the Royals was a
little shaken. He balked Brock to second. With Bench at the plate,
Brock swiped third base. Bench followed with a single scoring the
When Garvey was at the plate, Garagiola said, “You can use Garvey as
a blueprint for a ballplayer.” In my view, Jimmy Wynn’s mutton
chops could serve as a blueprint for anyone planning on attending a
On a ball hit foul on the third base side, Cardinals’s coach Red
Schoendienst positioned himself to make a play on the ball. He badly
misjudged it, and the ball scooted right past him. The clear
“error” brought with it a few laughs.
When Joe Rudi comes up to bat, Mantle was quoted as saying that he
thought Rudi was a real winner. Garagiola laughed it up by quoting
Reggie Jackson describing Rudi: “He’s a misfit. He gets along with
everyone.” The clubhouse exploits of the Champion A’s are well
documented. (Well done, Bruce Markusen.) Rudi was one hell of a
defensive outfielder. Cey drilled a pitch to left field that Rudi
snagged to rob the “Penguin” of a sure hit. The ball was hit way
over Rudi’s head. Unbelievable play.
The network posted a list of the AL leaders in homeruns. Bonds was
leading, with 20. He was followed by Jackson with 18, Jeff Burroughs
with 18, and John Mayberry with 17. We often forget about the speed of
Jackson. Jackson hit a grounder to shortstop, and screamed down the
line to beat the throw from Concepcion for a single.
When Bob Watson came to the plate in his colorful rainbow Astros
uniform, the announcers were quick to point out that, earlier in the
year, Watson scored the millionth run in the history of baseball.
The defensive talents of both starting catchers was made clearly
evident in the game. Munson pegged Concepcion trying to steal, and
Bench picked off base stealing wizard Campaneris from first base.
One of the most interesting things in the game came when Jim Kaat of
the Whitesox came in to pitch. He exhibited his quick pitch delivery
technique. I did not recall seeing or hearing about this technique
before. Kaat would catch the ball from the catcher and immediately
his next pitch, using only an abbreviated windup. The hitters were
completely off guard. Morgan tried to step out quickly as Kaat
launched a quick pitch. Bench tried to do the same, but all he could
was laugh when the next Kaat quick pitch was tossed. The hitters were
baffled. At times Kaat would throw his “efus pitch”-a quick pitch
that is just kind of tossed to the plate with a slow arch. I wonder
why some pitchers today don’t try the Kaat technique.
Rose was playing third base for the Reds in 1975, but he was voted in
to start the game as an outfielder. Rose displayed his versatility, by
shifting from rightfield to leftfield during the game. When Bonds
smoked a line drive to left, Rose made an impressive diving catch.
guy is fun to watch.
The commentators agreed that the 19 year-old Claudell Washington had an
amazing future in the majors. At the All-Star break he was hitting
.300 and he had over 30 stolen bases. (Unfortunately, although he was
sound player, he never quite lived up to his billing.) You know that
Finley was beaming when the AL outfield was all Oakland A’s: Rudi,
Jackson, and Washington.
Earlier in the season, rookie Fred Lynn had a 10-RBI game, when he
launched 3 homeruns (just missed a 4th), a triple and a single. Before
the game, Mantle and Musial both sent someone over to get Lynn’s
attention, because the two Hall of Famers wanted to speak with him.
young Lynn could not believe his ears when he learned of the request.
In the 6th inning, Carl Yastrzemski stepped to the plate with two men
on. He wasn’t wearing a batting helmet! He was the only player in
the game that didn’t wear one. He responded by pounding a Tom Seaver
pitch into the seats to tie the game at 3-3. Looks like Seaver could
have used some more Murine 2.
When George Scott of the Brewers entered the game, the crowd responded
with a loud applause. Earlier, they booed Gene Tenace because the fans
thought that the Boomer should have been the starting firstbaseman.
Scott was a colorful fellow. He called his black glove, “Black
Beauty,” and when he was asked what his necklace was made out of, he
said, “secondbasemens’ teeth.”
Tenace switched from first base to catcher, just in time to hook up
with his old battery mate, Catfish Hunter. A few days earlier
Washington had sat out some games due to experiencing dizzy spells.
spells must have been with him at the All-Star game too, because he
misjudged back-to-back fly balls, hit by Reggie Smith and Al Oliver.
This brought Catfish out of the game. Goose Gossage of the Whitesox
came in to relieve Catfish with the score still tied. This was
Gossage’s first All-Star game. He was a big, goofy 24 year-old.
And, to say that he was a complete nervous wreck is an understatement.
With no outs and two on, he beaned Larry Bowa. He settled down some to
get two strikes on Bill Madlock of the Cubs. Madlock was an excellent
hitter, and he was leading the NL in hitting at the All-Star break with
a .353 average. Goose made the mistake of tossing a change-up, which
Madlock drilled past the glove of Nettles at third, scoring two runs.
Year’s later Goose said, “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” He
added, “Gosh, I don’t even know what my stats were. It was a rocky
outing for sure. My legs were shaking and I wasn’t thinking too
clearly out there.”
Gossage was completely star-struck before the game started. He arrived
at the park with his wife more than two hours early. His idol growing
up was Mickey Mantle, and when he ran into Mantle for the first time,
Gossage froze and failed to respond to Mantle’s greeting. Later when
Gossage was alone at the batting cage, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
He turned and saw it was Mantle again. Mantle said to Gossage,
“What’s the matter son, don’t you talk?” Gossage
replied, “Oh, Mr. Mantle . . .,” as he started to stammer over his
words again. Eventually he pulled himself together enough to say,
“You were my idol and when I saw you, I couldn’t talk.” Mantle
must have seen a lot of this in his life. He laughed at Goose and told
him, “Hey, congratulations, have a great time and good luck.”
In 1974 Padres pitcher Randy Jones posted a record of 8-22. By 1975,
however, Jones was a completely different pitcher. At the break he had
a 11-6 record and a 2.25 ERA. Jones came in to pitch for the NL in the
9th inning. He was able to shut them down to lock up the win for the
Baseball was different in 1975. Much is missed about the era. I guess
it was fitting that the last out of the 1975 All-Star game was made by
Gary Carter of the Montreal Expos-a team that is no more. Carter was
not playing catcher when he made the final out. He caught a fly while
playing leftfield, while wearing his Expos batting helmet.
Stephen Jordan is a lawyer, writer, and artist and has published many
articles for various publications and websites, including the Sporting
News. His book, “Bohemian Rogue: The Life of Hollywood Artist John
Decker,” was released by Scarecrow Press in 2005. In addition, Jordan
has created artwork for many periodicals, newspapers, websites, and for
sports organizations, including the Boston Red Sox. Signed prints of
his artwork are currently offered on eBay. Feel free to e-mail Stephen
Posted: March 19, 2005 at 09:29 PM | 8 comment(s)
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