Hi all. In this second part of our ten-part series of profiles of All-Star games past, today’s focus is 1984. Kurt Schweizer wanted me to profile that game.
1984 began as the title of a very depressing novel by George Orwell. In that classic, an evil all-powerful entity called “Big Brother” ruled the world and not even the simplest word meant what it said. The real year 1984 found America ready to vote Ronald Reagan to a second term as president. The summer of 1984 was the summer I got my first job, as a telemarketer for a carpet-cleaning firm. 3 days after the All-Star game, I was let go by that job. It was a pay check while it lasted, when they still had pay checks rather than direct deposit. I would start to record boxing matches with new friends doing play-by-play in August of that year. 1984 would turn out to be one of the most exciting of my life.
The All-Star game was played on July 10 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. “King Carl” Hubbell, a superstar in an earlier All-Star game which will be profiled later, threw out the ceremonial pitch. Nearly 58,000 fans crammed into what was largely considered the worst facility in baseball at the time. The All-Star game had come to the city by the bay once before, in 1961. All the talk for years after was the high wind blowing pitcher Stu Miller off the mound. That game, like last year’s game was quiet early but became interesting when the bull pens took over. The 1961 game ended up in a 5–4 National League win. The 1984 game was a more subdued affair with the National League winning 3–1. Among the American League starters, 3 Tigers and a pitcher didn’t make the Hall of Fame. Those were catcher Lance Parrish, second baseman Lou Whitaker, center fielder Chet Lemon and starting pitcher Dave Stieb of the Blue Jays. The five starters bound for Cooperstown were Rod Carew, who started at first base, Cal Ripkin jR at shortstop, George Brett at third, Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson in the outfield corners. Among their pitchers, Phil Neikro and Jack Morris would one day get the call from upstate New York. Other All-Star pitchers were the Orioles’ Mike Boddicker, Bill Caudill from Oakland, the White Sox’ Rich Dotson and the Tigers’ Willie Hernandez. The Royals’ Dan Quisenberry was also selected to join Orioles’ manager Joe Altobelli’s team. Among his reserves was Twins’ catcher Dave Engle and Brewers’ catcher Jim Sundberg who had made a name with the Rangers. Alvin Davis of Seattle and the Yankees’ Don Mattingly were backup first basemen. Other backup infielders were the Blue Jays’ Damaso Garcia, the Rangers’ Buddy Bell, the Jays’ Alfredo Griffin and the Tigers’ future Hall of Famer, Alan Trammell. The backup outfielders were mostly future Hall of Famers–Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson who was having his first career in Oakland. Tony Armas was also selected as a backup outfielder. The two DH’s were Eddie Murray of the Orioles and Andre Thornton of Cleveland.
Across the field, the Phillies’ manager Paul Owens (called “The Pope” in his home city, managed the NL All-Stars. His Phillies had been beaten by the Orioles in a one-sided World Series the year before. His largest enigma was his starting pitcher, the Expos’ Charlie Lea who would wind up the winning pitcher. The rest of his team could be recognized (at least at that time) by fans across the land. Gary Carter was on the cusp of leaving baseball obscurity in Montreal to join the Mets and position himself for Cooperstown. Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt and Ozzie Smith put alltime greats at 3 of the 4 infield positions. The lone man not to reach the Hall among the NL starting infield was Steve Garvey, whose off-the-field sins were worse than anything he did or didn’t do between the lines. Darryl Strawberry, who started in right, was also taken down by off-field trouble. Tony Gwynn would join Gary Carter among the greatest players ever, but neiter would live past their mid-fifties. Dale Murphy started in center field. While he’s not in the Hall, his name comes up in discussion every year. Among the NL pitchers, 3 can be described as very troubled men. The late Joaquin Andujar of the Cards, the Mets’ Dwight Gooden and the Padres’ Goose Gossage all had their struggles of one sort or another off the field. Other ’84 All-Stars were the quiet Al Holland of the Phillies and the Mets’ future stud reliever Jesse Orosco. Also pitching for Paul Owens were the Reds’ Mario Soto, the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela and the Cardinals’ Bruce Sutter whose name is pronounced “Suitor.” Among NL reserves were the Giants’ Bob Brenley, the Cubs’ Jody Davis and the Pirates’ Tony Pena giving the NL 4 possible receivers. The Mets’ future broadcaster Keith Hernandez was an all-star reserve at first base. The Phillies’ Juan Samuel who would join the Mets in 1989 was reserve second baseman. Other All-Star infielders were Tim Wallach of the Expos and the Braves’ Rafael Ramirez. Of 5 backup outfielders, only the Expos’ Tim Rains had Cooperstown in his future. Charles “Chili” Davis of the Giants, the Dodgers’ Mike Marshall, the Astros’ Jerry Mumphrey and the Braves’ Claudell Washington were reserve outfielders.
There wasn’t much scoring, and what there was happened early. The NL took the early lead with the AL tying it in their half of the second. The NL put up a run in the second and kept the game 2–1 until the 8th when they scored an insurance run. The NL manufactured the first run in their half of the first. The trouble started with a base knock to right by Steve Garvey. Reggie Jackson, who never played at Candlestick couldn’t cleanly field the ball allowing Garvey to go to second. After Dale Murphy singled, AL catcher Lance Parrish made the inning’s second error allowing Garvey to score. The big guns sounded in the second, in the sort of exchange that makes up much of today’s game. George Brett tied the game at 1, but Gary Carter untied it with a blast that would make a loser out of Dave Stieb. Pitching would dominate the middle innings. In the 4th, the phenomenal Fernando Valenzuela struck out 3 future Hall of Famers–Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett. Then the teenage Gooden struck out his own 3 men–Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis. Fernando’s feat triggered memories of a superstar from another time striking out 5 of the game’s greatest hitters, but that’s another theme for another day. In the 8th inning of the 1984 game, Dale Murphy homered off the Tigers’ Willie Hernandez. 21 men struck out that night, a record that would last 15 years until the 1999
Mid-Summer Classic in Boston.
You can expect 8 more themes in this series. Tomorrow’s will be the last one by request, as 3 good men were daring enough to put forward their requests. The other 7 will be of my own choosing. I hope you enjoy the series.0