July inevitably brings back memories of the All-Star Games, whether it’s heroics on the field or the injustice of players who were snubbed by not being selected. Since almost the beginning of this century, all baseball fans have looked back on the 2002 contest with a sense of regret.
Because both coaches (Joe Torre of the New York Yankees and Bob Brenley of the Arizona Diamondbacks) ran out of players to use, the game was called in the eleventh inning with the score tied at seven. Commissioner Bud Selig was especially upset that the game had been played at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers team that he once owned.
He immediately set about making sure there would never be another Midsummer Classic without a winner, and fortunately, that 2002 game remains the only one to end in a draw. Exactly thirty years before that, however, a quick glance at the box score might lead one to assume that the All-Star Game must have ended in a tie.
Neither team managed to get an RBI in the contest, so in the bottom row of the scorecard, the zeroes seem to indicate that the game ended in a scoreless draw. There were probably a lot of those in the 1968 regular season, when pitchers were so dominant that Major League Baseball decided to take the mound down starting the following year.
American League hitters, despite a lineup of the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson and Carl Yastremski, did not record a single. His offense was limited to three doubles by Tony Oliva of the Minnesota Twins, Don Wert of the Detroit Tigers and Jim Fregosi of the California Angels, none of whom drove in a single run.
When you consider who was on the mound across from them, the lack of offense seems less surprising. Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Tom Seaver were four of the mighty arms that combined to shut out American League hitters.
Their Senior Circuit opponents proved nearly as unproductive on offense, even though the lineup featured more future Hall of Famers. Willie Mays was in first place, followed by legends like Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Ron Santo and Tony Perez.
Even with that cadre of outstanding hitters, NL hitters couldn’t get a single run. With all the blanks in that column, it would be easy to assume that neither team scored.
Two spaces to the left in the scoring box, the run column shows the only difference in the two clubs that day. The NL managed to score a run, when Mays crossed the plate as San Francisco Giants teammate Willie McCovey rebounded on a double play off Boston ace Luis Tiant in the bottom of the first.
After that scant run in the opening inning, pitchers from both teams dominated the offenses. That minimal output represented the lowest-scoring game in All-Star history but, regardless of what the RBI column indicates, it wasn’t a tie.