July 16, 1985: National League wins 6-1 in drama-free All-Star Game in Minnesota

This article was written by Stew Thornley

LaMarr Hoyt (TRADING CARD DB)The 1985 All-Star Game – a 6-1 National League win at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis – lacked drama. For the crowd of 54,960, that may have been disappointing. But for members of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operated the stadium, it was a relief.

In its fourth season as home of the Minnesota Twins, the Metrodome had produced drama of the wrong kinds, frequently from the overly spongy turf that too often caused strange bounces. “On this field, everyone has to take a step back and play it safe,” said Baltimore Orioles outfielder Fred Lynn after a game the previous May. “It’s like a trampoline out there.”1 In the All-Star Game, there were a couple of singles-turned-doubles because of the turf, but at least neither was as egregious as the game-ending inside-the-park home run that bounced over Chicago’s Harold Baines, in a 3-2 Twins win on June 24, 1984.

The other problem was fly balls frequently lost by outfielders because of the dark roof.2 A few days after Lynn’s complaint, the New York Yankees lost to the Twins after losing two flies in the roof. New York manager Billy Martin was his usual temperate self in calling the Metrodome “an abortion”3 after scoffing, “You can bet when they play the All-Star Game here it’s going to be a [obscenity] joke. The whole country is going to see how bad this [obscenity, possibly the same one as before] park is.”4 (Jerry Bell of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission retorted, “We don’t react to the comments of Billy Martin. Chances are by the All-Star Game, he’ll be fired anyway.”5)

The commission, however, did install underside lights on the roof, illuminating it to the point that the problem decreased, and no embarrassing incidents happened with balls being lost in the roof in the All-Star Game.

While the game itself wasn’t dramatic, there were memorable moments before a pitch was thrown. Detroit’s Lou Whitaker forgot his jersey and had to improvise. He purchased a Detroit jersey, blank on the back, from the concession stand and had someone use a black marker to draw in his number 1 on the back (although there was no name, unlike his Tigers teammates in the All-Star Game).6

Baseball had not developed its formalized All-Star Week program in 1985, but pregame events provided some of the week’s most memorable moments. The day before the game, honorary captains Sandy Koufax and Harmon Killebrew were brought to Boom Island in northeast Minneapolis, 20 years after Koufax had been the winning pitcher and Killebrew had hit a home run in Minnesota’s last All-Star Game, and 20 years after Koufax’s Los Angeles Dodgers had beaten Killebrew’s Twins in the 1965 World Series. Neither realized the 1985 event had been publicized and that Koufax was to pitch to Killebrew, who would try to hit the ball across the Mississippi River (about 700 feet). Koufax seemed bewildered and Killebrew angry about the poor organization, although Killebrew was still a good sport and fungoed a few balls into the river.

Another event before the game allowed fans in for free to watch the teams work out and compete in a home-run contest. The leagues were paired against each other, and the AL won it when Tom Brunansky – the lone Twins All-Star that year – finished the derby with three home runs.  High-school players shagged the fly balls during the contest, and one robbed Ryne Sandberg and the NL of a homer by leaping and catching the ball before it cleared the fence.7

When the All-Star Game began on Tuesday night, Jack Morris, whose 19 regular-season wins and three postseason victories were integral to the Detroit Tigers’ World Series championship in 1984, started for the American League. A native Minnesotan, Morris retired the side in order in the top of the first.

Rickey Henderson, with the New York Yankees after a December 1984 trade brought him from the Oakland A’s, opened the bottom of the inning with a single off San Diego’s LaMarr Hoyt, two seasons removed from winning the AL Cy Young Award with the Chicago White Sox. With one out, Henderson stole second and went to third on catcher Terry Kennedy’s8 overthrow. George Brett then lined a pitch to left. Tony Gwynn9 – Hoyt and Kennedy’s Padres teammate – moved to his left to catch it but had no chance at throwing out Henderson, who tagged and scored the first run.

With one out in the top of the second, Darryl Strawberry lined a single to left, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Kennedy, tying the game.

Morris retired the first two batters in the third before Tommy Herr lined a hit to left and got a double out of it on a high hop off the turf. Yet another member of the defending NL champion Padres, Steve Garvey, drove in Herr with a single to center and went to third on another high-hop double, this one by Dale Murphy to center field. Henderson had started to come in for a shoestring catch, reconsidered it, then retreated to corral the ball on one bounce before it caromed over his head.

With runners on second and third, Strawberry walked, ending Morris’s night. Jimmy Key relieved and got Graig Nettles, also with the Padres, to foul out to Brett to end the inning.10

Cleveland’s Bert Blyleven – who had started his career with Minnesota in 1970 and would return to the Twins less than three weeks later in a five-player trade – took the mound in the top of the fourth and gave up a single and a walk with two out but no runs. He wasn’t as fortunate in the fifth. With two out, Blyleven hit Strawberry with a pitch. Tim Wallach lined a double to left; Strawberry would have scored except he had to stop at third when the ball skipped into the stands for a book-rule double.

It didn’t matter as Ozzie Virgil followed with a two-run single to left. Jim Rice’s throw was up the third-base line and got by Carlton Fisk, causing Virgil to try for second on the misplay. But Blyleven, backing up the plate, threw to Lou Whitaker at second to retire Virgil.

After their first-inning run, the AL did little against Hoyt, but they did threaten against Nolan Ryan, who had taken over in the fourth inning. Down 4-1 in the fifth, the AL had two on with two out and Henderson up. On a 2-and-1 pitch, Ryan got a generous called strike from plate umpire Larry McCoy, allowing him to come in high and tight with his next one, knocking Henderson to the ground. Henderson then swung and missed on the next pitch, stranding the runners.

Twin Cities native Dave Winfield, on a 10-year contract with the Yankees, came up in the last of the sixth, representing the tying run with two out. Ryan used breaking pitches to get ahead in the count, 0-and-2, and then dusted off Winfield with a high fastball. Winfield grounded out on the next pitch to end the threat.

The AL’s baserunning was open to question over the next two innings, although they avoided a potential miscue in the seventh when Rice tagged and went to third as Don Mattingly flied to Willie McGee in center for the second out. Rice looked to be a dead duck at third except that Ozzie Smith’s relay hit him in the back.  They weren’t as lucky in the eighth. After Damaso Garcia opened with a single, he stole second as Phil Bradley struck out. Sandberg, covering the base, dropped Tony Peña’s throw, which bounced away and back toward the mound. For no good reason, Garcia broke for third. Jeff Reardon picked up the ball and threw to Wallach at third for an easy out.

Detroit’s Dan Petry relieved for the AL in the ninth and walked the bases full with one out.  Sparky Anderson, Petry’s manager with the Tigers, made a pitching change of one Tiger for another, bringing in Willie Hernandez, who gave up a two-run double to McGee, one that would have cleared the bases if it hadn’t bounced over the center-field fence for another book-rule double.

With the AL down 6-1 in the last of the ninth, fans found a new source of amusement. Red, white, and blue bunting hung around the ballpark, and some of the bunting began disappearing from the facing of the upper deck. The public-address announcer, intending to stop the thievery, made an announcement asking the fans to not steal the bunting. It didn’t work. The sight of the bunting around the upper deck was seen around the ballpark as Richard “Goose” Gossage – the sixth Padre to get into the game – dispatched the final batters, striking out  Rice and Rich Gedman to end the game.


Author’s Note

The previous All-Star Game in Minnesota, in 1965, had been a more exciting game, the NL winning 6-5, and featured 17 players now in the Hall of Fame: Koufax, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Joe Torre, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, and Billy Williams for the National League and Killebrew, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, and Tony Oliva for the American League.  In addition, AL skipper Al Lopez is in the Hall of Fame.

The 1985 game had even more, including both managers, Anderson and Dick Williams. The 19 players were Gwynn, Ryan, Gossage, Smith, Sandberg, and Tim Raines for the National League and Henderson, Brett, Winfield, Rice, Fisk, Blyleven, Morris, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Alan Trammell, and Harold Baines for the American League.11

Pete Rose – who by 1985 was thought to be a sure Hall of Famer – played in both the 1965 and 1985 games. 



 This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin.



Memories of the author, who was at the game and did not steal any of the bunting (although he thought about it). He also consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for information, including the box scores. 





1 “An Oriole Outstanding in His Field Is Stumped by Surface Situation,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, May 4, 1985: 9D.

2 The cause of fly balls being lost in the roof has often been attributed to the roof being white, which causes a white ball to blend into it. However, the ball actually shows up as a dark spot to a fielder looking up at it with the translucent roof as a background.  During the day, this dark spot was easier to pick up as the translucent roof remained light. At night, however, the roof darkened and tracking fly balls became a treacherous activity. The stadium commission eventually installed lights that illuminated the roof at night.

3 Howard Sinker, “Steinbrenner Hits the Roof, Says Metrodome Makes Circus of Baseball,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, May 9, 1985: 1D. New York owner George Steinbrenner issued a 10-page statement after the game in which the Yankees lost two fly balls; in it, he announced that the Yankees would play the next night’s game under protest.

4 Dennis Brackin, “Upset Billy Isn’t at Loss for Words about Dome,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, May 8, 1985: 1D.

5 Jay Weiner, “Lights on Order, No Thanks to Billy,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, May 10, 1985: 1D.

6 Willie Mays and Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants almost had the same problem in the 1965 All-Star Game in Minnesota. The Giants had mistakenly sent their uniforms and equipment back to San Francisco from Philadelphia, where the Giants had last played. The original plan was for the pair to wear Twins road uniforms turned inside out, but someone was able to get the San Francisco uniforms to Minnesota in time. Mays’ helmets didn’t make it, however. He led off the game with a home run while wearing a Cubs helmet, courtesy of Billy Williams, and later used Johnny Edwards’s Reds helmet.

7 The person who robbed Sandberg in the home-run contest was Sean Moe, a recent high-school graduate. For his feat, Moe was invited by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to be one of the batboys in the All-Star Game the next night. Bob Sansevere, “AL East Could Boil Down to Last Two Weeks,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, July 17, 1985: 3D.

8 Kennedy was on the NL roster in place of Gary Carter, who was injured in a game on Sunday, two days before the All-Star Game. Lance Parrish was supposed to start at catcher for the AL but was hurt. Gedman replaced Parrish on the roster, and Fisk started at catcher. In addition to Carter, the NL replaced injured Pedro Guerrero on the team with Glenn Wilson. Joaquin Andujar refused to pitch because he wasn’t named the starting pitcher for the NL. Ron Darling took Andujar’s spot on the staff but didn’t pitch in the game. Others on the rosters but not appearing in the game were Dwight Gooden and Scott Garrelts for the National League and Jay Howell for the American League.

9 Gwynn was replaced in left field by Jose Cruz. Gwynn was nursing a bad wrist and had considered not playing in the All-Star Game. However, after talking to the NL manager, Dick Williams (who was also Gwynn’s manager in San Diego), he decided to play one inning and have at least one plate appearance.

10 It was the second straight inning-ending popout to Brett, who did not have trouble seeing the ball on either occasion.  

11 Other notables and still potential Hall of Famers were Dick Allen for the National League in 1965 and Lou Whitaker for the American League in 1985. In 1965, future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Carl Yastrzemski were to play for the American League but were hurt. Carter, in 1985, was another future Hall of Famer but unable to play because of injury. 

Additional Stats

National League 6
American League 1

Minneapolis, MN


Box Score + PBP:

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