The NBA All-Star Game of 1967 is considered the best ever, with 22 Hall of Famers playing in an 82-minute game. It was a showcase for the sport’s most talented players, and it still holds up today as one of the greatest games ever played.
The 1971 mlb all-star game hall of famers was the night, 50 years ago, when 22 Hall of Famers played in an All-Star Game for the ages.
That beautiful and historic night at Tiger Stadium for the All-Star Game in Detroit 50 years ago, the greatest center fielder of all time was there. There was also the “Hit King” and “Mr. October,” the all-time leader in RBIs and total bases. The greatest catcher, best-throwing outfielder, and finest defensive third baseman in history were all present.
Joe Torre, who began at third base for the National League side, stated, “All your baseball cards came to life.” “It felt like I was entering the Hall of Fame.” ‘Wow, all of these people are Hall of Famers,’ you think. You’re still enthralled with it.”
In the end, 22 players and managers from that game were inducted into the Hall of Fame, 17 were named MVPs, and seven were named Cy Young Award winners, making this night arguably the greatest collection of talent ever gathered on one field at one time in baseball history.
“I was speechless,” Torre remarked. “I was batting first in the league, but I was still overwhelmed.”
There has never been an All-Star Game with more than 20 Hall of Famers. Let that sink in: Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Ron Santo, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, and Roberto Clemente, who would be there for the final game The managers, Earl Weaver of the Orioles and Sparky Anderson of the Reds, are both Hall of Famers.
“”I was 23, it was my fourth All-Star Game, but they were my heroes,” stated National League catcher Johnny Bench, widely regarded as the greatest catcher of all time. He caught the whole game that night. “They had the status of gods. You get to play with your favorite characters. I was standing close to Al Kaline and McCovey… Al Kaline was one of my favorite authors. It was a once-in-a-lifetime sensation as they came to the plate.”
The game featured six home runs, the most notable of which was hit by Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.
“It was an incredible experience,” Jackson remarked. “It was the first time I recall two Black guys starting a game [on the mound]. It was the best players in history, such as the 3,000-hit men.”
Jim Palmer, a Hall of Fame pitcher, was playing in his second All-Star Game.
“It was incredible to be there, with all those players and home runs in one game,” he added. “It was incredible. Pete Rose didn’t even start because it was that amazing. “Tell him I told you so.”
Rose, the all-time hit leader, did not only not start, but also did not bat. When the final out was made, he was in the on-deck circle.
“I had to fight out Mays, Aaron, and Clemente to start when I played the outfield,” Rose, who eventually became an everyday infielder, remarked. That was my opponent. ‘C’mon,” I mean.”
Juan Marichal, a Hall of Fame pitcher, pitched two scoreless innings. Bench described it as one of the most pleasurable events of his life. Marichal had a tight grip on the situation.
Bench stated, “I could have caught him with a pair of pliers.”
It made the work of the man behind the plate, who was in charge of calling the game, a lot easier.
“The umpire inquired as to whether I had ever thrown a ball,” Marichal stated.
Marichal had been a major leaguer for 16 years and had won 243 games when he retired in 1971.
“I’d been around for a long time, but with all those Hall of Famers surrounding me, I felt like a novice,” he added.
Brooks Robinson, a third baseman, has the most Gold Gloves (16) of any position player in history. He, too, was awestruck by the stars. But, at least to him, he recalls something as important.
“For me, it was most memorable because we [the American League] won,” he said. “We’d been involved in a lot of losses.”
It was one of the most exciting All-Star Games ever. It was over in the blink of an eye. In today’s world, when the average game duration is 3 hours and 10 minutes, the game took just 2 hours and 5 minutes. A automated ballot was used to choose the lineups. The most votes went to Hank Aaron. At Tiger Stadium, Tigers Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer threw out the ceremonial first pitch. In Detroit, the wind was roaring.
Rose stated, “I played in 17 All-Star Games.” “Detroit was the only one we lost.” It was all about league pride back then. Willie and Henry were never members of the American League. Al Kaline and Yastrzemski never played in the National League. Warren Giles, the president of the National League, gave the greatest speech I’ve ever heard. Every year, he walked into the clubhouse to speak with the players on how to win the game. The veins in his neck protruded. ‘If we don’t win this year, you won’t be on this squad next year!’ he threatened.
The home run was used to score all ten runs, which is common in today’s game but not so much back then, making it even more important. Mays and Aaron, who would end their careers with a combined 1,415 home runs, were the first two hitters of the game, which was fitting considering the unprecedented assemblage of talent. This game was so good that the 1-2 hitters were perhaps among the top five players of all time. Mays is the finest center fielder of all time and, apart from Babe Ruth, the best player of all time.
“The All-Star Game was created for Willie Mays,” remarked Felipe Alou, a former teammate.
Mays went up against Vida Blue, a 21-year-old A’s pitcher who would go on to win the AL Cy Young Award and MVP that season. He entered the game with 17 wins, the most by a pitcher in the All-Star Game era. Bob Feller set the previous record of 16 in 1941. Blue threw hard to begin the game, but he got Mays to ground out to shortstop on a changeup.
“‘I thought you threw hard?’ Willie shouted from the dugout. ‘What happened to the fastball?!’” “Blue” stated.
Dock Ellis of the Pirates was Blue’s opponent, and at the time of the break, he was leading the National League in wins and ERA. Ellis, who is known for being vocal and opinionated, said publicly that he does not believe Anderson would designate him the starting pitcher because “baseball does not want two brothers to start the All-Star Game.”
Anderson, on the other hand, selected Ellis, making him the first Black pitcher to start an All-Star Game.
Bench’s mammoth home ball to right-center field off Blue started the home run onslaught in the second inning.
“Bench remarked, “It was one of the farthest home runs I’ve ever hit in my life.” “Vida is going to go all out for the All-Star Game. As soon as he releases it, I’m going to start swinging. It was carried up to the top deck. Because it traveled into a tunnel in right-center field, the camera couldn’t track it and no one could see where it went. When I returned to the dugout, the buzz was that these guys had never seen anything hit that far. Of course, many of them had never attended a Tiger Stadium game in their lives. It was fantastic.”
Aaron came to the bat in the third inning with a.175 average and no extra-base hits in his career in an All-Star Game. Then he blasted a home ball to right field against Blue in his 65th career at-bat in an All-Star Game.
“Aaron remarked 47 years later, “I had never hit one.” “I was in desperate need of a hit. “At long last, I got one.”
The wind was howling at Tiger Stadium that night, gusting up to 32 mph in right field. Jackson entered the game as a pinch hitter for Blue in the bottom of the third inning.
“So, in the third inning, I pinch hit, and I thought to myself, ‘Why aren’t they saving me for the big moment?’ According to Jackson. “Tony Oliva, who had injured his knee, was substituted for me in the game. ‘Buck, whatever you do, don’t go there and strike out,’ [teammate] Sal [Bando] warned me as I was gathering my things to travel to Detroit. It was 0-2 after two pitches. ‘Oh my God,’ I muttered as I walked out of the box. ‘Buck, don’t strike out,’ Sal urged. As a result, I became choked up. Dock tossed a ball into the air. It was a 1-2 count. Then I launched this ball towards the spotlight. That day, the wind was howling. One of these struck a chord with me. I was ecstatic. When I got rounding third, the first thought that came to me was, ‘OK Sal, I didn’t strike out.’
It was one of the farthest home runs ever hit in the big leagues.
Bench laughed as he replied, “No, it wasn’t, it was probably 50 feet shorter than mine.”
At Tiger Stadium, the ball struck the light transformer on the roof. The depth was estimated to be between 520 and 540 feet.
Reggie Jackson’s long home run in the 1971 All-Star Game was a memorable occasion. Photo courtesy of AP
“To do that and… be Reggie, he attempted to channel Willie Mays’ flare, to be a showman, which he was,” Bench said. “He backed it up with evidence. Because they realized it was momentous, everyone in the dugout came out to look at it. Reggie was bouncing about with his chest out.”
At the moment, Palmer was warming up in the bullpen.
“”The stadium fell absolutely quiet as soon as Reggie hit the ball because everyone was watching where it would fall,” Palmer remarked. “It would have left the stadium if it hadn’t struck the electrical box. It would have looked like Robert Redford in ‘The Natural’ if it had struck the lights.
After a bomb like that, Jackson took a leisurely walk around the bases, as he should have.
“”Al Kaline told me it was the farthest ball he’d ever seen hit, and that meant a lot to me because he’d played there, his home ballpark, and he’d seen a couple balls go over the roof,” Jackson said. “Willie McCovey was at first base when you raced around the bases. Joe Torre was most likely hitting. Johnny Bench was catching at the moment, while Mays and Aaron were in the outfield. In front of all these guys, it was such a wonderful experience for me.”
When questioned about Jackson’s home run, Torre chuckled.
“In that All-Star Game, I’m known for two things,” he remarked. “You could see my feet with my hands on my hips as Reggie raced past me as he struck the transformer on the roof as he was rounding third. Bobby Murcer also hit a popup during the game. In Detroit, it was a windy night. ‘I got it!’ I said. ‘I figured it out!’ You have to take it once you claim you’ve got it. I’m the third baseman for the team. I dashed over the mound, catching the ball at first base. When I said, ‘I got it,’ I felt like the stupidest person in the planet. Then I realized, ‘Oh my, I have no idea.’ So I went over there and, thank god, I caught the ball. And it’s none other than Stretch McCovey who is gazing down on me. ‘What are you doing over here?’ he asks.
During the 1971 All-Star Game, Frank Robinson was one of 22 future Hall of Famers on the field. Getty Images/Bettmann Archive
As he approached third base, did Reggie say anything to Torre?
“‘No,’ Torre said, chuckling. “He didn’t want to speak to me because he was too busy praising himself. You are aware of this.”
Frank Robinson homered to right field three batters later, snapping his 0-for-14 slump in All-Star Games. Robinson became the first player to hit a home run in both leagues’ All-Star Game. He is the first player to earn MVP awards in both leagues. The AL now has a 4-3 advantage. Robinson was awarded the All-Star Game MVP in 1971.
“However, my homer wasn’t close to Reggie’s,” Robinson remarked.
Palmer faced Bench in the fourth inning, a rematch from the 1970 World Series, which the Orioles won largely because to Brooks Robinson’s outstanding play at third base.
“Brooks was “sent by God” to play third base in the 1970 World Series, according to Rose. “”With the exception of a cold, he caught everything.”
And he did so, including against Bench, in the 1971 All-Star Game.
“I made Brooks the MVP by launching 14 rockets at him, all of which he fielded,” Bench remarked. “I hit a BB to third base my second time up in the All-Star Game. He just picked it up as if it were nothing. I raised my arms in the air. He simply laughed when I pointed straight at him.”
Brooks Robinson, 50 years later, chuckled about it.
“Johnny hit a one-hopper to my left, on which I made a fantastic play and threw him out,” he said. “Years later, I watched a video footage of the All-Star Game, and it reminded me of the 1970 World Series, when… I performed well. So I’m watching this video and I see Johnny take two steps out of the box and raise his bat in the air, as if to scream, ‘Oh no, not again.’ I’d never seen anything like that before.”
Harmon Killebrew hit another home run in the sixth inning, this time to Ferguson Jenkins. In the eighth inning, in what would be the legendary Roberto Clemente’s last at-bat in an All-Star Game, he homered to right field off Mickey Lolich to reduce the advantage to 6-4.
Lolich, the Tigers’ ace pitcher, earned the save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning and getting Bench to pop out for the last out. It was the AL’s first win since a game in 1962. It made up for the AL’s devastating loss the year before, when Rose drove in the winning run against AL catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 game, leading Senators outfielder Frank Howard to remark to Palmer as they walked off the field in defeat, “Oh, f—- those NL people.”
Back then, the game was played for the sake of dignity.
“The National League was constantly kicking our butts,” Jackson remarked. “It was great to finally win one.” And how frequently, 50 years later, does someone bring up his 1971 All-Star Game home run?
“‘It comes up pretty often,’ Jackson said. “People saying me I’m good never gets old for me.”
Everything about the 1971 All-Star Game was positive, as it brought together arguably the finest group of talent ever gathered on one field.
The all-star line up 2021 is a prediction made by an NBA insider. He predicts that in 2021, there will be 22 Hall of Famers playing in the All-Star Game.
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