The Midsummer Classic is a chance for the game’s stars to shine. Kansas City has hosted three All-Star games, let’s take a look back at them.
July 11th, 1960, Municipal Stadium, Kansas City
The 28th annual All-Star game was the first All-Star game to ever be played in Kansas City. It occurred on Monday July 11th, 1960 and featured 17 future members of the Hall of Fame and three more who arguably deserve to be enshrined (Roger Maris, Minnie Minoso and Vada Pinson). Also on the rosters were four players who spent time with the Kansas City Athletics at some point in their career (Maris, Bud Daley, Jim Gentile and Vic Power) and four more who would spend some time with the not yet in existence Kansas City Royals (Ron Hansen, Lindy McDaniel, Orlando Cepeda and Pinson). Future National League President Bill White of the St. Louis Cardinals was also on the National League roster. The game was the last All-Star game for Ted Williams and the first for Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson.
Bill Monbouquette of the Red Sox got the start for the American League while Bob Friend of the Pirates took the mound for the Nationals. Monbouquette ran into trouble immediately. Willie Mays, in his eighth All-Star appearance, led off the game by slicing a triple down the right field line. Bob Skinner, batting second, drove home Mays with a single to left. With two outs, Monbouquette caught too much of the plate and Ernie Banks didn’t miss it. The ball landed deep in the left field bleachers. 3-0 National League.
The Senior Circuit kept up the barrage in the second. With one out, Milwaukee’s Del Crandall deposited a Monbouquette pitch in almost the same exact spot as Banks. 4-0 National League. Chuck Estrada of the Orioles came on to pitch the third. He got the first two outs easy enough before Banks clipped him for a double. Joe Adcock ripped a hard single to left, moving Banks to third. Bill Mazeroski followed with another single to left to plate Banks. 5-0 National League.
The American League finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Al Kaline reached on an error and later came around to score on a Nellie Fox single. 5-1 National League at the end of six. The Americans mounted a late rally. In the eighth, Harvey Kuehn reached on an error. Al Kaline then stroked a Bob Buhl pitch into the left field bleachers to make it 5-3.
American League manager Al Lopez made a classy move by bringing in the Athletics Bud Daley to pitch the ninth. Daley entered the game to a rousing standing ovation from the 30,619 in attendance. Daley later called it the greatest thrill of his career.
Daley worked a nifty ninth, striking out Pinson and Cepeda, before walking Ken Boyer. Daley ended the inning by getting Clemente on a liner to left. Buhl and Vern Law worked around trouble in the ninth to close out the win for the National League. The Nationals pounded out 12 hits, led by game MVP Willie Mays, who went 3-for-4. The American Leaguers only managed six hits.
July 24, 1973, Royals Stadium, Kansas City
The nation turned its attention to Kansas City and brand-new Royals Stadium for the 44th Midsummer Classic. The 1973 game marked the 40th anniversary of the inaugural game played in 1933. The two starting pitchers from that game, Lefty Gomez and Bill Hallahan, threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
Dick Bartell, Joe Cronin, Jimmy Dykes, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Grove and Carl Hubbell, who all played in the 1933 game, were also in attendance.
Amos Otis, John Mayberry and Cookie Rojas of the Royals made the American League squad, with Otis and Mayberry getting the start. There were a number of former Kansas City Athletics participating in the game including Catfish Hunter, Bert Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers and Darrell Evans as well as Dick Williams and Whitey Herzog, who managed and coached the American League team.
Hunter got the start for the American League while Rick Wise, of St. Louis, got the nod for the National League. The American League got off to a promising start, with Otis driving home Reggie Jackson in the second inning to give the AL a short lived 1-0 lead. Hunter was removed from the game in the second when Billy Williams smoked a line drive back through the box, which broke Hunters thumb. The injury caused Catfish to miss two weeks of play.
In the top of the fourth, Johnny Bench hit one of the longest home runs in stadium history, a shot deep into the seats in left field, giving the National League a 3-1 lead. The blow came off Bill Singer of the California Angels.
The National league added to their lead in the 5th. Joe Morgan led off with a double to left. Singer retired the next two batters before giving up another bomb to Bobby Bonds, which made the score 5 to 1 Nationals.
The Senior Circuit continued their power display in the sixth. Ron Santo drew a leadoff walk off new pitcher Nolan Ryan. With one out, Willie Davis of the Dodgers took the Ryan Express on a trip deep into the right field seats to set the final score at 7-to-1. A capacity crowd of 40,849 witnessed the game in what was one of the finest hours of Kansas City baseball history.
The game featured 19 future Hall of Fame players, managers and umpires and was the 24th and final All-Star game for Willie Mays, who was the MVP of the 1960 game played at Municipal. Mays appeared in every mid-summer classic between 1954 and 1973. Amazingly, he was not a unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame, a fact that continues to gnaw at me. Somehow, someway, Mays was only named on 409 of 432 ballots. There are a lot of things in life that blow my mind: the universe. The miracle of childbirth. Beautiful sunsets. The Grand Canyon. Hearing Angela Cervantes singing Great Gig in the Sky. And the fact that 23 people who were rumored to be baseball writers leaving Willie Mays off their Hall of Fame ballot. The National League pounded out 10 hits, while the American League was held to five. Otis collected two hits for the AL while Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants took home the MVP award.
July 10, 2012, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The game returned to Kansas City for the 83rd edition of the Midsummer Classic. A lot had changed from the last time the Royals hosted the All-Star game. The stadium, now known as Kauffman, had recently undergone a $250 million dollar renovation. The second big change was the festivities. There was a celebrity softball game and MLB’s answer to the NBA’s dunk contest – the Home Run Derby.
The game itself was pretty forgettable, an 8-0 win by the National League. The real action was in the Home Run derby. The American League player captain was New York’s Robinson Cano. He made a early promise to select someone from the hometown team to participate in the home run contest. Makes sense. Keep the locals happy, plus it’s a classy gesture. Only problem was, Cano elected to stiff the Royals, specifically Billy Butler. Butler was the only Royal to make the 2012 team and the teams only consistent home run threat. In fact, Butler would hit a career high 29 home runs in 2012 with 16 of those coming before the All-Star break. Instead Cano went with Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo. Cano, the winner of the 2011 Derby, was the fourth and final American League participant.
I’m not sure what Cano was thinking. Or if he even was. Kansas City fans have a lot of pride in their players and their team and they remembered. When Cano stepped up to the plate, in the Derby, Kansas City fans unloaded on him. The jeering was so loud and intense that Cano became visibly flustered and struggled to make contact. With each ball that fell onto the outfield grass, the fans booing became louder. Cano, properly emasculated by the crowd, ended the Derby with zero home runs.
The booing continued the next night when Cano came to the plate for the American League. Rob-bie Can-o. Rob-bie Can-o. I loved every minute of it.
The game? Yawn… Justin Verlander got the start for the American League and the Nationals bitch slapped him for four hits, two walks and five runs in the first inning. The Nationals salted it off in the fourth off Matt Harrison (Matt Harrison?). The inning started innocently enough, with Harrison getting Pablo Sandoval and Dan Uggla on fly balls. The next four hitters went triple, single, home run, triple, with the dong coming off the bat of Melky Cabrera. Yeah, the same Melky who hit .305 for the 2011 Royals and was traded over the winter for Jonathan Sanchez. I’m sure you’re aware that Sanchez ended up being a major stiff while Melky hit .346 for San Francisco that season. To say Sanchez was a stiff is a bit of an understatement. He was Frankie Carbone stiff, closing his career by going 1-12 with an 8.73 ERA in 2012 and 2013. Fortunately, Dayton Moore recovered some face by unloading Sanchez on the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie, who had a very solid four-year Royal career.
A youngster named Mike Trout made his first All Star game appearance, collecting a single in his first at bat off R. A. Dickey. The game also marked Bryce Harper’s first All-Star appearance.
The game drew a standing room only crowd of 40,933. Cabrera took home the MVP award, keeping the streak alive for the San Francisco Giants in their Kansas City All-Star appearances. Butler got a rousing ovation, but went hitless in two at bats.