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ALL-STAR WHACK BY THE GREAT ONE

[November 6th] --By the time the 1968 All-Star game began in Houston's Astrodome, there wasn't much to cheer about when it came to the Washington Senators. Their record was about 32-50, buried in last place, and most of Washington was looking north to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, waiting for the beginning of the Redskins training camp. But each of the last four years the Senators were in D.C., we at least had something to look forward to: Frank Howard was an All-Star.

He didn't do much in 1968, his first year as an All-Star. Of course, no one did. The National League won the game 1-0 when they scored on a double-play with the bases loaded. The game was played in the expansive Astrodome, and it was the year of the "pitcher." I'd say that 1-0 was a high scoring game. 1970 & 1971 weren't much better for Hondo. He started, got a few at bats but didn't do anything except make Senators' fans proud that we had someone on the all-star team [of course, everyone did, but that didn't matter].

1969, however, was a very special year. It was baseball's 100th anniversary, and the all-star game was played in RFK Stadium. 45,016 fans poured into the stadium, and then a funny thing happened. It poured. Boy did it pour. For hours, Major League Baseball hoped that the skies would clear, but once television cameras caught the river flowing down the steps from the field and into the dugouts, it became clear that the game would have to be cancelled. The game was played the next afternoon. Frank Howard batted 5th, and was given an ovation so huge that the big guy got misty for a few moments during introductions. The National League won the game 9-3. Willie McCovey hit a couple of homers, Johnny Bench hit one too, and Carl Yaztremski made a great catch in the outfield. He ran back towards RFK's six-foot chain link fence and leapt straight up, stealing a home run away from a National Leaguer. Yaz would later say that he got "skulled," hitting his head on the bare metal bracing on his way back down. Frank Howard got one at bat, and launched a long homer off the back wall against Cardinal lefty Steve Carlton. The stadium erupted for five minutes. To makes things a little more special, for the first time in recent memory, the Senators had two players on the team, as ace reliever Darold Knowles joined the squad, pitching 2/3 of an inning, giving up no hits.

Frank Howard made this 13 year old very happy that day, though I almost missed the game. I was visiting my grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama, and wasn't used to a different time zone. When the promos said that the game would be played at "One Eastern, twelve central," I did what I always did; once the "Eastern" time was given, I stopped listening. I went into the kitchen, made a grilled cheese sandwich, grabbed a glass of milk, and settled in front of the television set ten minutes early. I changed the channel to NBC just in time to see Frank Howard being introduced to the crowd at RFK. It was then that I realized the mistake I made with the time zones.

Ahhh ... aging memories on a quiet news day in Nationals-land.


Comments:
I was actually at that game -- well, the rained out one -- but my Dad wouldn't let me go to the afternoon game the next day. I .. um .. slept through school that spring and had to go to summer school (at Oakton High -- the only school with AC) and NO WAY was my dad going to let me skip for the game.

Still hate the SOB!
 
I sat through the rainout, vividly remember the water gushing down into the 3rd base dugout all night long. Went to the makup and had a blast. Before the game, during batting practice, there was an ad hoc terrific battle among stars to hit balls into the Upper Deck of RFK. Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Tony Perez, Lee May, even Roberto Clemente trying to reach it for The Nationals. Hondo, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew and Yaz for the AL Stars. My Dad caught a foul ball off the bat of Killebrew. When Hondo launched that Homer (it came early, in the 2nd when the game was still close at 3-1 NL), RFK Stadium was ROCKING!!. Not only did two players representing The Senators compete in the game, but soon to be Senators--Johnny Roseboro, Denny McLain and Don Mincher all played in the 1969 All Star Game. Of course, Killebrew started his career in Washington with the Original Senators. Tony Oliva was in the Original Senators Farm System when the team moved to Minnesota in 1961.

It was the very first time I saw, what was then considered by many outlandish--The Gold, Green Uniforms, with White Shoes of The Oakland A's. Reggie, Bando and Blue Moon Odom wore them. I loved them. My Dad--HATED THOSE UNIFORMS!!. Of course, I enjoyed the Seattle Pilots uniforms that day too. The scrambled egg yellow on the blue bill. Pilot Wings on the left pocket of the jersey. GREAT MEMORIES of those uni's. Its hard to believe today, that 2 players representing The Seattle Pilots played in that All Star Game (Mincher and Mike Hegan).

Yaz's Catch came in the 6th inning off the bat of Johnny Bench. It would have been his second Home Run of the Game. McCovey flat out torched one of his Home Runs--hitting the Longines Clock in right center.

I still have my game program, ticket and even Pennant with the Players from both teams on it, along with RFK Stadium.

Thanks for the memories.
 
Screech,
I loved those bright Oakland uniforms too. I hated the fact that most every team wore dark colors, and even the teams that wore blue as the primary color still looked like they were wearing black (when I first read somewhere that the Yankees team color was blue, I thought it was a typo).

I went to a double-header against the A's in 1971. I can't remember who won or lost, but I do remember those uniforms. The A's played game one with their gold vest and pants with green sleeves -- their typical road uni. When they came back out for game two, however, they wore road gray pants and vest with those green sleeves. One team. Two games. Two different uniforms. I thought that was sooo cool.

I too loved the Pilots "powder blue" uniforms with scrambled eggs on the bill. I always thought that the "hash" marks on the ends of the sleeves was pretty impressive as well.

I remember waiting to see the first game at Three Rivers Stadium -- it was on "NBC Game Of The Week." I just had a feeling that the Pirates were going to go with a new uniform in the new stadium. I was stunned when I saw the new togs with the double knit look and the elastic striped belt "thingy" (I have no idea what it's called). I thought it was the coolest uni I'd ever seen.
 
Farid, I was at that game. It is the only All Star game I have ever attended.
 
I would like to know how you put the news ticker at the top of the page. I would like to add it my page.

aatn.blogspot.com
 
Benji:

go to this website:

http://www.web-source.net/html_codes_chart.htm

About 3/4 of the way down the page, you'll see a listing for "marquee" -- it'll show you how to add to your site. Of all the things I've added to my page, that was the easiest by far.

When you're done, comment me with your page address -- I'd like to see it!

Farid
 
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