When the Major League Baseball All-Star game, also known as the “Midsummer Classic,” rolls around each year, it evokes memories from 1972.
You see, I was fortunate enough to grow up in an era where some of the best players in Major League Baseball history were displaying their talents on the diamond.
I was also fortunate enough to have a father, the late Monte Hale Sr., who was a huge baseball fan and wanted to share the great game’s experiences with his son.
With that in mind, I’ll never forget how geeked I was when my father told me we were going to the Major League All-Star game at Atlanta’s old Fulton County Stadium.
I had seen many, many games at the ball park and seen several future Hall of Famers beat up on my Atlanta Braves.
However, I had never seen an American League player suit up live and in person.
Now when I say I witnessed many great players while growing up, just consider this:
In 1972, the National League roster included Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Joe Torre, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Ron Santo, Lou Brock, Willie Mayes and Billy Williams.
The American League roster featured Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, Catfish Hunter, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan and Carlton Fisk.
That’s right, 24 future Hall of Famers competing in the “Midsummer Classic.”
The National League continued what then was its dominance of the All-Star game with a 4-3, 10-inning victory that was capped off by Morgan driving in Nate Colbert with the game-winning run.
It’s funny, though, as there were two things that stood out to me until years later when I realized the significant and historical game I watched.
One was that a slender shortstop named Cookie Rojas of the Kansas City Royals hit a home run. The other was the fan beside us was a huge fellow who brought a 2-foot sub sandwich and his own beer in a big Thermos.
It’s funny the things that strike you when you’re a 10-year old. Naturally, as I learned more about the game and its great players, I realized what a special night I was fortunate to be part of at the old Fulton County Stadium.
Prior to losing to the American League in 1971, the National League had won eight straight. The victory in 1972 started an incredible 11-game winning streak for the NL.
With the All-Star set to take place Tuesday in Minneapolis, I still believe the event is the best of its kind in all of professional sports.
I’m not so sure I like the idea of the winner getting home-field advantage in the World Series, however. After all, should a Houston Astro have the opportunity to decide who has the home edge in the World Series? I think not.
That being noted, the All-Star game is a true “Midsummer Classic.”
Furthermore, I will never forget the one I was privileged enough to witness in 1972.