Let’s Play Two
If baseball players consider it an honor to be selected to an All-Star Game, were they doubly honored from 1959-62? During those years there were two All-Star contests, played in two different cities but not always with the same teams.
Owners and players agreed to the second game as a way to raise funds for the players’ pension fund. It was suggested by the Philadelphia Phillies Robin Roberts, the Hall of Fame pitcher who was active in the players’ union.
Members of the owner’s pension committee and major league player representatives met with Commissioner Ford Frick and unanimously approved the idea on June 8, 1959. Playing a second All-Star game was approved for only one year.
According to Michael Haupert, co-chair of SABR’s Business of Baseball Research Committee, and a Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the second game provided the following amounts for the players pension fund:
|All Star game||1959 (2 G)||1960 (2 G)||1961 (2 G)||1962 (2 G)||1963 (1 G)|
|net gate rcpts||$ 372,193.83||$ 328,926.95||$ 351,205.04||$ 371,940.78||$ 210,167.52|
|TV and radio contract AS game||$ 500,000.00||$ 500,000.00||$ 500,000.00||$ 500,000.00||$ 250,000.00|
|WS TV and radio contract||$ 3,000,000.00||$ 3,500,000.00||$ 3,250,000.00||$ 3,500,000.00||$ 3,500,000.00|
|disbursed to MLB Players Benefit Trust from net gate rcpts of AS game and proceeds of AS and WS TV and radio contracts||$ 2,323,322.29||$ 2,597,356.17||$ 2,460,723.03||$ 2,623,164.46||$ 2,537,159.14|
|Second||(60% of rcpts)||(60% of rcpts)||(60% of rcpts)||(60% of rcpts)||(64% of rcpts)|
1959 All-Star Games net gate receipts were $372,193.83; broadcasting rights for TV and radio was $500,000. (In addition to the All-Star Games, the 1959 World Series TV and radio contract brought in another $3 million. Disbursements from net gate receipts of the two All-Star Games and proceeds of radio and TV rights for the All-Star games and World Series TV brought to the MLB Players Benefit Trust $2,323,322.29 (60%).
Commissioner Frick said he secured $250,000 in broadcast rights from Gillette Razors, who sponsored the games. In accordance with All-Star game policy in place, the revenue was to be divided with 60% going to the pension fund and 40% to the central fund of the major leagues.
Mel Allen was the TV play-by-play announcer for both games. His partner for first contest was Vin Scully; for the second game it was Curt Gowdy.
Because the players and their teammates were benefitting from the second game, they had no qualms performing another game – at that time.
(Original Caption) Ford Frick, president of the National Baseball League, who was named commissioner of organized baseball by the Major league club owners in Chicago Yesterday, is shown entering his office in New York this morning September 20, 1951 for his first day as baseball czar. Gazing at him from a plaque on the office wall is Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was Baseball's first commissioner. Some People see a strong resemblance between Frick and Landis. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
“I never heard anybody complain, I didn’t mind it and like I said, nobody else complained about it,” said Pirates reliever Roy Face. He was selected for both games of the 1959-61 contests. “It was the manager (making the selection, I guess. It wasn’t me. I didn’t mind.” In 1961, it was his skipper, Danny Murtaugh, who selected him.
Once a year, players would join forces with opponents to defeat the opposing league. What was it like being teammates with players he tried to beat during the season?
“You went ahead and did it,” said Face. “You wanted to win.”
The first All-Star Game that season was played at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field on July 7, 1959, in front of more than 35,000 fans. Vice President Richard Nixon threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game started at noon.
Starting pitchers were Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League and Early Wynn of the Chicago White Sox, who was 39 years old, for the American League. Drysdale pitched three perfect innings. Wynn surrendered a first-inning home run to Milwaukee Braves 3B Eddie Mathews, the only run he allowed. He won the Cy Young Award that season, going 22-10. (He would pitch four more years until he won his 300th game, his only victory that season.)
The AL tied the game 1-1 in the fourth inning and they went ahead in the eighth inning with two runs. The NL countered with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 lead, which was the final score. Johnny Antonelli of the San Francisco Giants was the winner with Don Elston of the Chicago Cubs pitching a scoreless ninth for the save. The Yankees Whitey Ford pitched only one-third of an inning but was charged with the loss, surrendering two runs.
More than 55,000 fans turned out to The Coliseum in Los Angeles for the second game on August 3. Drysdale started again for the NL, while Jerry Walker of the Baltimore Orioles started for the AL. The game started at 4 p.m. PCT.
Unlike the first game, there was a full schedule of games the day before, Sunday, August 2, and players had to travel by jet to make the all-star game. Likewise, players had to join their teams the following day. (The first game was played on a Tuesday; there were no games scheduled that Monday, and only one game, between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, was scheduled on Wednesday, July 8.)
Not everyone was happy at how the second game was assembled.
Baltimore Orioles manager Paul Richards was quoted in an Associated Press story about how the second game was interfering with the pennant races.
He accused major league officials of a “miserable act of malfeasance.”
(Original Caption) Players of the Baltimore Orioles get batting instructions from manager Paul Richards (right facing camera) during the first day of their spring training here March 2nd.
The story reported Richards was angered by arrangements for the second all-star game, referring to the contest as a “money-grabbing exhibition” and a “black mark on all of baseball.”
“The entire thing is a travesty,” said Richards. “In the first place, it’s not important enough to take three days off to run right, like they did the first one. It’s drawing little interest from the newspapers, and it doesn’t look like it will draw the way it should.”
Richards was angered when Baltimore pitcher Jerry Walker was named to the All-Star squad, replacing the Orioles injured catcher Gus Triandos. With two Baltimore starting pitchers already on the AL squad, Richards was looking ahead to a three-game series with the league-leading Chicago White Sox.
“We plan our pitching so we have Walker to open Tuesday night against Chicago and now, with no warning whatsoever, we are supposed to look for somebody else,” Richards said.
(Richards’ Orioles were in third place in the AL, 11 games behind the White Sox. If they were to have any chance to overtake Chicago, they’d need to win all three games. The two teams split the first two games and played to a 1-1 tie after 18 innings of the third game. None of the three Baltimore pitchers selected for the All-Star Game pitched in that series.)
As he did in Pittsburgh, Drysdale pitched a scoreless first inning, but allowed three runs in the next two innings. Walker allowed one run in three innings, followed by Early Wynn, who gave up a run in two innings of work. The NL made it 3-2 in the fifth, but the AL scored single runs off of Gene Connelly of the Phillies and Pittsburgh’s Elroy Face and the AL won 5-3. Drysdale took the loss and Walker got the victory, with Cleveland’s Cal McLish earning the save.
Unlike the first All-Star game, which had a three-day “break” – the second game played on August 3rd – players had to finish games on August 2 and make their way to Los Angeles, and after the game make their way back to their teams for games on August 4.
“Were it not for the airplane, the second all-star game could not have been played in Los Angeles. So it was even that before the contest was given the green light the plane and not the league, schedules were checked,” wrote Rube Samuelsen in The Sporting News.
The writer also pointed out that while getting from the east and midwest to Los Angeles was made easier by the time difference, players returning to their team had less time to make it back.
The two games in 1960 were the final All-Star appearances for Ted Williams, who appeared in 19 such contests. In total, he batted .304 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. In the 1946 game, he went 4 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs, leading the AL to a 12-0 shellacking of the NL. In 1941, Williams hit a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the AL a 7-5 victory. In 1960, he pinch hit in both games, singling in the first and popping out in the second.
Boston Red Sox Ted Williams pinch hitting in 7th inning of All-Star game connects for a single. (Photo by Charles Hoff/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
The first game that year was played in Municipal Stadium in Cleveland on July 11. The attendance was listed at 30,619, one of the smallest for an All-Star game. The National League scored five runs in the first three innings on its way to a 5-3 victory. Pittsburgh’s Bob Friend started for the NL, and pitched three scoreless innings. (He wound up winning 18 games for the pennant-winning Bucs that season.) Friend’s teammate Vernon Law earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Boston’s Bill Monbouquette started for the American League, and lost the game, giving up four runs in two innings, including home runs by Ernie Banks and Del Crandall. For the American League, Detroit’s Al Kaline hit a two-run home run off of Milwaukee’s Bob Buhl.
Monbouquette would win 63 games from 1960-63, including 20 in 1963, and was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
The second All-Star Game in 1960 was played two days later at Yankee Stadium on July 13, with the National League again winning 6-0. Attendance was 38,362.
NL pitchers Vern Law of Pittsburgh (who started), the Dodgers Johnny Podres and Stan Williams, Larry Jackson of the Cardinals, Bill Henry of the Reds and Lindy McDaniel of the Cardinals held the AL to eight hits (but they did walk six while striking out only four).
Hometown favorite Whitey Ford started for the American League. He gave up three runs in three innings and was saddled with the loss. Baltimore Shortstop Ron Hansen, who went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, was the only AL player with more than one hit (he had two).
The most competitive game of the four-year span of playing two games was the first one in 1961, held on July 11 at Candlestick Park. 44,115 fans jammed into the stadium.
The American League scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the score at 3, then scored in the tenth to take a 4-3 lead, but the Nationals scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, the winning run came with Roberto Clemente singling to score Willie Mays. The NL was helped when Yankee catcher Elston Howard allowed a passed ball and Baltimore’s Hoyt Wilhelm hit Frank Robinson.
A sell-out crowd at Boston’s Fenway Park on July 31 saw history, but it was a history that they probably would have forgone: it was the first tie in an All-Star game.
In the sixth inning, the lights were turned on; there was a rain delay in the eighth inning, and following the last of the ninth it began to rain again. Less than 30 minutes later, the game was called by the umpires, with score 1-1.
Starting for the National League was Cincinnati’s Bob Purkey, whose 16 wins that season helped the Reds to the pennant. The Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax made his All-Star debut, hurling two scoreless innings.
The American League scored its only run in the first inning on a Rocky Colavito home run. St. Louis Cardinals 1B Bill White singled to score Eddie Mathews of the Braves in the sixth inning for the NL’s only run.
(Original Caption) The New York Yankees (Left to Right), Whitey Ford, Tony Kubek, Roger Maris, and Mickey Mantle are shown at Yankee Stadium July 2nd, after learning they were picked to play on the American League All Star team. The Yankee players learned of the news shortly before their scheduled game here with the Washington Senators.
A UPI story the next day wondered if the result of the game would spell the end of a second contest.
“The rain-soaked tie in 1961’s second All-Star Game may have sounded the death knell for the two-a-year inter-league games program started three years ago,” wrote Leo H. Petersen of the wire-service’s Boston bureau. “Everyone, it seems, is against two games a year except the players. They proposed the second game and insisted that two be played each year in order to enrich their pension fund.”
“But there were indications that they were coming around to the thinking of Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick and the club owners that fans will lose interest if two All-Star games are played each season,” wrote Petersen.
He wrote players voted 508 to 32 the previous spring to continue the two-a-year format and player representatives were meeting to decide whether to go back to the one-per-season game.
“They now have enough money in their pension fund,” said Frank Scott, agent for the players. Scott refused to predict what the players would recommend, but several of them have changed their minds since last spring and it may be that the unsatisfaction of Monday’s game might be the factor that will turn the players against the present format,” wrote Petersen.
The first All-star game in 1962 was played in front of 44,480 fans at D.C. Stadium in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 1962. The National League prevailed 3-1. For the third time in four years, Don Drysdale started for the NL, while Detroit’s Jim Bunning started for the American League. Each pitched three scoreless innings before being relieved. Juan Marichal took over for the NL and did not give up a run in two innings and received the victory. Milwaukee’s Bob Shaw hurled two innings for the save. Minnesota’s Camilo Pasqual took the loss. The NL scored two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth, while the AL scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth.
The second All-Star game in 1962 was played at Wrigley Field on July 30, 1962, in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 38,000. They saw the American League thump the National squad, 9-4.
Leon Wagner of the expansion Los Angeles Angels had three hits for the American Leaguers, including a home run. He was awarded the Arch Ward Memorial Memorial Award for his performance in the All-Star Game. Rocky Colavito, now playing for the Detroit Tigers, drove in four runs, three coming off a round tripper.
While NL starter Johnny Podres of the Dodgers pitched two scoreless innings, other NL pitchers – Art Mahaffey, who lost the game, Bob Gibson, Dick Farrell and Juan Marichal, gave up runs in their appearances. The NL made four errors in the game.
A Chicago Tribune columnist wrote the day after the game, “The baseball players who insist on two annual All-Star games had better be more cautious. One more parade comparable to Monday’s talent exhibition in Wrigley Field and the number of baseball games and popular demand will be zero!”
Al Abrams, sports editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, wrote, “Consensus of a majority of writers and baseball men at the second All-Star Game at Chicago last Monday was that it was one of the dullest and sloppiest in the long series.”
After this contest, both owners and players decided to forego the second game, saying it detracted from the specialness of conducting an All-Star Game.
Writing in The Sporting News, Dan Daniel of the New York Times reported the Players Pension Fund was owed $10 million. Commissioner Frick said, “all pension funds are confronted with these problems in indebtedness for back payments,” but added, “as things stand, we will have the debt all cleared in 20 years.”
Daniel also wrote, “the debt of $10 million is being used by the players to fight the American League’s determination not to play two All-Star Games a season after 1962.”
In a 2008 New York Times article, Marvin Miller, who would become head of the players union, said that financial records he discovered showed increased revenues to the pension fund.
“But eventually there was a realization that one game was better than two,” he said.
Miller also said in the Times article that the talks to keep the two-a-year games tangled negotiations overextending the season to 162 games for expansion that would start in 1961without paying the players “a nickel more.”
In the end, baseball owners agreed to give players a larger share of the income from a single game and stopped presenting a second All-Star Game.
Orlando Cepeda was selected for every All-Star Game those four years. It was impressive that he made the 1959 starting squad for game one in only his second year.
Cepeda said with the extra game, along with his playing winter ball in Santurce, Puerto Rico, tired him out by the end of the calendar year. “I was playing 200 games a year,” he said. “My father told me, when you put the uniform on, it becomes a business.”
“When you play every day, you have a couple days to relax (during the All-Star break), to bring everything back to normal; two games, it was hard,” said Cepeda. “One was enough, but I did it. I was honored.”