Sunday, July 12, 2015

Forgotten All Star Moments: 1985 in Minnesota. Hall of Famers Everywhere.

The Baseball Eras blog has said this over and over again.  The only sport that gets the All Star Game right is baseball.  In Hockey, checking is taken out of the game meaning it becomes a different game all together.  In Football's Pro-Bowl, there are no blitzes and no defensive stunts leading to few defensive stops and an unbelievably boring exhibition of a normally exciting sport that turns into basically a 2 hand touch game.  In basketball the rules don't change but the players turn the game into a slam dunk contest with little semblance of an actual set offense.  Baseball's All Star Game understands that the point of this is not to punish the stars of the game by making them spend their three day break by playing one more game.  The point of the All Star Game is to give an exhibition of the best aspects of the entire sport.

One of the best rules that baseball has as part of this game is that every team in the league must be represented on the team.  Now, there are some that will argue this rule as taking up roster spots from those who are deserving.  I certainly understand that argument, however, every team has at least one deserving representative.  Regardless of how bad that team is there is always someone of All Star caliber.  Just because he is not as obviously deserving as your favorite player who was  "snubbed" does not mean he is not worthy of it.  You can use for an example the 1972 Phillies.  A truly terrible team that went 59-97.  That team used a total of 16 pitchers during the year.  Of those pitchers only three pitchers won 5 or more games.  Only  three others managed four wins.  That means ten pitchers on the staff managed 2 or less victories.  Still, Steve Carlton managed 27 wins for the year.  So although that team was ridiculously bad, Carlton definitely deserved to make an All Star Appearance.

Because of this rule,the fact that the All Star Game is intended to be a microcosm of one season and because you can never tell how some one's career will progress, you don't always get a list of Hall of Fame members on a team.

Yet in the 1985 All Star Game there was a Hall of Fame player everywhere you looked.  Of course there were those who did not make the Hall of Fame on the teams but even many of those still spark some pretty strong debate over whether they should be enshrined.

Here is a look at the starting lineups for the game:
American League                                                National League
Rickey Henderson, CF (Yankees, HOF)              Tony Gwynn, LF (Padres, HOF)
Lou Whitaker, 2B (Tigers, HOF snub)                Tommy Herr, 2B (Cardinals)
George Brett, 3B (Royals, HOF)                         Steve Garvey, 1B (Padres, HOF snub)
Eddie Murray, 1B (Orioles, HOF)                       Dale Murphy, CF (Braves, HOF snub)
Cal Ripken, SS (Orioles HOF)                            Darryl Strawberry, RF (Mets, Possible HOF)
Dave Winfield, RF (Yankees, HOF)                   Graig Nettles, 3B (Padres, HOF snub)
Jim Rice, LF (Red Sox, HOF)                             Terry Kennedy, C (Padres)
Carlton Fisk, C (White Sox, HOF)                      Ozzie Smith, SS (Cardinals, HOF)
Jack Morris, P (Tigers, HOF snub)                     Lamar Hoyt, P (Padres)

The 1985 All Star Game was played in Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. This was the second time Minnesota had hosted the game. The team first hosted the mid summer classic back in 1965 when the first place Twins would eventually win the American League Pennant.  The Twins fans got a sneak preview of their final painful memory of that year when Sandy Koufax got the win in the Midsummer Classic.  In Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, in the same stadium, Koufax would end the Twins' Championship hopes with a masterpiece performance.  1985 Twins fans were reminded of that immediately when Koufax and Harmon Killebrew were announced as the honorary team captains.

The Hall of Fame resumes started at the very top of both teams.  Managing the National League was Dick Williams.  Williams had guided the 1967 Red Sox to the World Series, won two World Series with Oakland and had taken the Padres to the World Series in 1984 which was his sixth overall appearance in the post season and at only half a game out of first it looked like he was headed for a seventh.  Williams was the first manager to lead four different teams to the post season.  Williams was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2008.  In the other dugout was Sparky Anderson, manager of the Tigers.  Sparky had just finished beating Williams and the Padres in the World Series.  He would one up Williams in history as well with seven post season appearances as a manager.  He led the 1984 Tigers to their first World Series since 1968.  It was Sparky's Third World Series title (1975 and 1976 with the Reds).  Anderson was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Of the two starting catchers one would be a Hall of Famer.  Terry Kennedy would make four All Star teams and two World Series teams (1984 Padres and 1989 Giants) but obviously was not a Hall of Fame player, and in fact his throwing error in the first inning of the game allowed Rickey Henderson to steal second, advance to third and eventually score.  The Hall of Fame Catcher starting the game was Carlton Fisk.  Fisk made 11 All Star Games, won the 1972 Rookie of the Year, retired as the all time leader in Home Runs by a Catcher (since passed by Mike Piazza).  Fisk was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2000 along with Sparky Anderson.  Fisk would get two at bats in the game and go 0-2.

The AL's First Baseman was a clear Hall of Famer when he retired.  The 1977 Rookie of the Year made 8 All Star Games, finished his career with 3255 hits, 504 Home Runs (one of only three players, along with Mays and Aaron, to reach both milestones).  He holds the record for most games played at First Base and played on four playoff teams, winning a World Series with the 1983 Orioles. Eddie Murray's power was feared by every pitcher in the league and as a switch hitter holds the record for most times homering from both sides of the plate in the same game. In this game he would go 0-3. Murray was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.   His opposing number was Steve Garvey, representing the Padres. Garvey was in his 10th and final All Star appearance.  He had also won an MVP, won four straight Gold Gloves, set the record for the most consecutive games played by a National League player and had almost single handed put the Padres in the World Series, earning NLCS MVP honors.  Garvey is not in the Hall of Fame but that is a discussion for a future series.

Second Base was one of only two positions that did not have a Hall of Fame player on either team.  Tommy Herr represented the Cardinals for the National League and Lou Whitaker  represented the Tigers for the American League.  Herr was in his first and only All Star appearance.  He was well respected in the league but injuries limited his productivity.  Vin Scully pointed out during the broadcast that Herr had already had three knee surgeries.  The Cardinals had won the 1982 World Series thanks in large part to Herr's contributions and he would help greatly in their 1985 and 1987 World Series runs. Herr would double and score a run in the game.  Lou Whitaker is a different story.  Lou would win the 1978 Rookie of the Year and make five All Star Games.  He also won 3 Gold Gloves.  Lou did not get elected to the Hall of Fame but like Garvey should get more consideration.  Lou went 0-2 in the game but he did get recognized for one odd reason.  He had forgotten to pack his uniform for the game so he borrowed some Minnesota Twins uniform pants, bought a replica Tigers jersey from the souvenir stand and had the equipment staff use a sharpie to draw the number 1 on the back.  Whitaker helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1984 and reach the ALCS in 1987.  Whitaker would retire following the 1995 season and in his only appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot received 2.9% of the votes.

Both starting Shortstops would reach the Hall of Fame and would each be considered among the greatest in history at their position.  Ozzie Smith was arguably the greatest defensive Short Stop the game would ever know.  Smith won 12 Gold Gloves and made 15 All Star Games.  He defined the position of Short Stop as the small, quick, light hitting defensive wizard.  Although not known for the bat, Smith was a few months away from hitting one of the most famous Home Runs in Postseason history.  On the opposite side of the field was the opposite of Smith.  Cal Ripken changed the definition of a Short Stop.  He was tall, powerful, good with the bat.  When he debuted as a Short Stop the critics said Ripken wouldn't last a month.  His size was supposed to be a danger to him.  He surely would get crushed by a runner trying to break up a double play.  But Ripken would say at Short Stop and would set all kinds of records, including most consecutive games played.  By the time he retired Ripken would win the 1982 Rookie of the Year, two MVP awards, a World Series, 8 silver sluggers, 19 All Star appearances (including 2 All Star Game MVPs), 2 Gold Gloves (although he should have won more) and set records for the most consecutive seasons by a Short Stop with 20 or more Home Runs, most consecutive innings played, most consecutive errorless games played by a Short Stop and in the end he opened the door for players like Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to be viewed as legitimate Short Stop possibilities.  Smith was an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame in 2002 and Ripken reached it in 2007.

At Third Base for the AL was George Brett.  Viewed as a legitimate threat to hit .400, he had chased that number in 1980, and without doubt the best third baseman in the game.    Brett had been a rookie in 1974 and within a few years he was leading the Royals to their first post season appearance.  They would be a regular participant in October during Brett's tenure (1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985) and Brett was a key in their only World Series win in 1985.  He won an MVP, 13 All Star appearances and a reputation of one of the best hitters in history.  Brett reached the Hall of Fame in 1999.  For the National League at the hot corner was Graig Nettles.  A key, but terribly under rated piece of the Yankees dynasty from 1976-1981, Nettles would make six All Star Games, win 2 gold gloves and helped the Padres to their first World Series.  Nettles is not in the Hall of Fame but could be.

The American League Outfield was nothing but Hall of Fame talent.  Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were the best of the best.  Between the three of them there were 30 All Star Games, 2 MVPs, 8 Gold Gloves, 11 Silver Sluggers, 12 Stolen Base titles, 3 Home Run Titles, 3 RBI titles, 12 post season appearances and 3 World Series titles.  Winfield was inducted in 2001.  Henderson and Rice would enter the Hall of Fame together in 2009.

The National League Outfield had one Hall of Famer, one player who should be in the Hall and another who had as much talent as anyone in the history of the game.  Starting in Center Field was Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre.  Gwynn was a clear first ballot Hall of Fame player with 8 batting titles, 15 All Star appearances, 5 Gold Gloves and a chase of .400 that was ended at .394 because of the baseball strike.  In Right Field was Darryl Strawberry, who in 1985 was still seen as the future of the game with an endless supply of potential yet to be fulfilled.  At this point of his career the Hall of Fame was being discussed as though it was a foregone conclusion but it would not come to be.  Strawberry's personal issues led to a down fall that took numbers away from the prime years of his career.  Strawberry's troubled life stood in contrast to the Left Field Starter for the National League, Dale Murphy.  Murphy did not drink or smoke and was considered the poster boy of clean living.   Murphy would make 7 All Star Teams, win two MVP awards, 5 times win a Gold Glove  and led the league in Home Runs.

Starting on the mound for the American League was Jack Morris, the man who would win more games in the 1980s than any other pitcher.  It should be obvious that this man needs to be in the Hall of Fame but for some reason he is not.  His counterpart on this day was never truly considered for the Hall of Fame but he was certainly the deserving starter for the National League in 1985.  LaMarr Hoyt had come to the Padres in the off season from the White Sox in  a trade that sent Luis Salazar, Tim Stoddard and a young Short Stop named Ozzie Guillen to Chicago.  Hoyt had been the ace of the White Sox AL West Champion 1983 squad but rumors of drug use helped him out of town.  The White Sox may have regretted that decision because Hoyt came into the game having won his last 10 straight games. Hoyt would continue his great season going three innings in Minnesota, allowing only two hits and one unearned run to earn the victory and the All Star Game MVP.

So of the 18 men in starting positions, only 3 (Tommy Herr, Terry Kennedy, Lamar Hoyt) would not be considered Hall of Fame candidates.  5 (Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles, Dale Murphy, Lou Whitaker and Jack Morris) deserve further consideration by the Hall of Fame, 1 (Darryl Strawberry) had Hall of Fame potential but lost that chance for reasons outside the game.  That puts 9 of the starters in the Hall of Fame (Gwynn, Smith, Henderson, Brett, Murray, Ripken, Winfield, Rice and Fisk).

But the talent didn't end there.  Of course, like Tommy Herr there would be players on these teams who were in their one and only All Star Games (or maybe two) and being rewarded for a great season.  These included:
Ernie Whitt, C Blue Jays,
Damaso Garcia, 2B, Blue Jays (this was actually his second All Star Game),
Scott Garrelts, P, Giants;
Ron Darling, P, Mets,
Glenn Wilson, OF, Phillies,
Phil Bradley, OF, Mariners,
Jay Howell, P, A's (he would make three total All Star Games),
Tom Brunansky, OF, Twins,
Gary Ward, OF Rangers (would make two All Star Games,
Dan Petry, P Tigers,
Willie Hernandez, P, Tigers (he would make three All Star Games),
Donnie Moore, P, Angels,
Ozzie Virgil, C, Phillies (he made two total All Star Games)

Each bench had a group of players who were never truly Hall of Fame candidates but during their playing time they were considered among the best in the business.  These players were constantly considered All Star players or MVP candidates.  This group included:
Tony Pena, C, Cardinals (5 time All Star, 4 Gold Gloves),
Jack Clark, 1B, Cardinals (4 time All Star, 2 time Silver Slugger, part of two Cardinals World Series teams),
Tim Wallach, 3B, Expos (5 time All Star, 3 Gold Gloves),
Willie McGee, OF, Cardinals (4 time All Star, MVP, 3 Gold Gloves).
Jose Cruz, OF, Astros (2 time All Star, 3 times top ten MVP candidate, 7 times batted over .300); Pedro Guerrero, OF, Dodgers (5 time All Star, World Series MVP);
Gary Templeton, SS, Padres (3 time All Star, 2 time Silver Slugger),
Joaquin Andujar, P, Cardinals (4 time All Star),
Dwight Gooden, P, Mets (4 time All Star, Cy Young Winner, Ace of two Mets playoff teams);
Jeff Reardon, P, Expos (4 time All Star, saved over 350 games),
Fernando Valenzuela, P, Dodgers (6 time All Star, 1981 Cy Young, 1981 Rookie of the Year);
Cecil Cooper, 1B, Brewers (5 time All Star, 2 time Gold Glove Winner, 3 times finished in top 5 MVP voting).
Rich Gedman, C, Rd Sox (2 time All Star),
Lance Parrish, C, Tigers (8 time All Star, 4 time Gold Glove winner),
Harold Baines, OF, White Sox (6 time All Star),
Jimmy Key, P, Blue Jays (4 time All Star, 2 time World Series Champion),
Dave Stieb, P, Blue Jays (6 time All Star).

Then of course each bench had those who are still receiving support as potential Hall of Famers:
Tim Raines, OF, Expos (7 time All Star, 3 times top 10 MVP, 4 times led the NL in steals),
Dave Parker, OF, Reds (7 time All Star, 1981 All Star MVP, 1979 NL MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, 2 time batting champ),
Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees (6 time All Star, 6 Gold Gloves, 3 time Silver Slugger, 1984 Batting Champion, 1985 MVP),
Alan Trammell, SS, Tigers, (6 time All Star, 4 Gold Gloves, 1984 World Series MVP) and
Pete Rose, 1B, Reds.  No explanation needed there.

Finally, the amazing collection of talent on the bench included quite a few Hall of Fame members as well:
Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs (2005),
Gary Carter, C, Mets (2003),
Rich Gossage, RP, Padres (2008),
Nolan Ryan, P, Astros (1999),
Wade Boggs, 3B, Red Sox (2005),
Paul Molitor, 3B, Brewers (2004)
Bert Blyleven, P, Indians (2011).

Of course by definition the All Star Game is designed to collect the greatest talent but in 1985 it certainly seemed like one of the best collections.

Of the 16 Hall of Fame Players mentioned in the 1985 All Star Game (Henderson, Brett, Murray, Ripken, Winfield, Rice, Fisk, Gwynn, Smith, Sandberg, Carter, Gossage, Ryan, Boggs, Molitor and Blyleven) how many made the 1986 All Star Game?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
J.R. Richard won a total of 107 career games for the Houston Astros ranking him 5th all time.  He finished one game ahead of Nolan Ryan and two ahead of his good friend Don Wilson.  You might wonder who finished ahead of him.  Here is the Houston top 10 in Wins:
1 Joe Niekro (144)
2 Roy Oswalt (143)
3 Larry Dierker (137)
4 Mike Scott (110)
5 J.R. Richard (107)
6 Nolan Ryan (106)
7 Don Wilson (104)
8 Shane Reynolds (103)
9 Bob Knepper (93)
10 Wandy Rodriguez (80)

1 comment:

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