All-Star Homers – Who’ll Hit No. 100?

This article was written by Richard W. Juline

This article was published in 1974 Baseball Research Journal

This spring, baseball attention will be focused on Henry Aaron as he strives to reach and pass that magic number in the home run summit of fame — 714.   There is another historic home run number that is being approached and soon some one will be achieving that milestone.   That will be the 100th home run to be hit in the major league’s midsummer All-Star baseball classic.

Probably it was only poetic justice that the first homer hit in the annual All-Star game was hit by the one and only Babe Ruth in the first contest in 1933.    Now, after 40 years and 44 games, possibly in this year’s game, Henry Aaron may be the one to hit the century milestone.  That too, would be poetic justice, although he has hit only two in his 22 games thus far.   The last fourbagger hit in All-Star competition was No. 97 — By Willie Davis in the 1973 game at Kansas City.   This gave National League forces 55 to 42 for the AL in the home run derby.

Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals holds the record for most home runs in the All-Star series.    In 62 times at bat in 24 games, he has connected six times. His most dramatic homer was probably his fourth hit at Milwaukee on July 12, 1955.   It was only the second time in the previous 12 years that Stan was not a starter.    He entered the game in the 6th with the Americans leading 5-0.   In the next two innings, the Nationals scored five runs to tie the score.   Neither team was able to score in the next 3½ innings.

Musial was the lead-off man in the bottom of the 12th.  Moments before he stepped in, Gene Conley, Milwaukee pitcher, had received a standing ovation from the home-town crowd for striking out the side — Al Kaline, Mickey Vernon, and Al Rosen — in the top of the 12th. Waiting for pitcher Frank Sullivan to complete his warm up tosses, Stan commented to catcher Yogi Berra that he was getting tired.  Berra responded that he, too, was getting a little weary.  Neither had to wait long for the finish.   Sullivan’s first serve — a waist-high pitch —  sailed over the right field screen, giving the NL a 6-5 victory.

Stants other All-Star homers came off Walt Masterson, Eddie Lopat, Mel Parnell, Tom Brewer, and former teammate Gerry Staley.    Three of the six came off Red Sox hurlers-Sullivan, Parnell, and Brewer.

Ted Williams leads the American Leaguers in All-Star home runs with four.    Two came in one game (1946) a feat accomplished by only three other players.    They were Arky Vaughan, Pirates (1941), Al Rosen, Indians (1954), and Willie McCovey, Giants   (1969).  Five players have hit three homers in All-Star competition — Rocky Colavito, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Mickey Mantle, and Johnny Bench.   Eleven players have hit two homers, and 69 different players have hit at least one.

The 97 home runs have been given up by 72 different pitchers.   As the number of innings a pitcher is allowed to work in each All-Star game is limited, it is not surprising that the home runs are spread over a larger number of hurlers.    Only 20 pitchers have given up two homers or more.   Only four pitchers have given up the maximum — three.   They are Mort Cooper, Robin Roberts, Whitey Ford, and Milt Pappas.

It is remarkable that no one has hit a grand slam homer in the All-Star games.    Fifty of the 97 home runs have been hit with the bases empty; 36 with only one on.  There were ten home runs hit with two on base, and only Ted Williams did it twice.   One was his classic blast off Claude Passeau in 1941, which will be discussed later; the other was his celebrated swat of Rip Sewell’s blooper pitch in 1946.

No pitcher has hit a home run in the All-Star games; of course, they usually do not get much opportunity to bat.   Leftfielders lead all other positions in hitting fourbaggers with 18, thanks primarily to Musial, Williams and Kiner.   Third basemen are next with 15, followed by center fielders with 14.

More home runs have been hit in the first inning than any other.   Apparently the big guns come up ready to tee-off before the pitcher can get his bearings.   Fifteen roundtrippers have been hit in the initial frame, and 13 each in the 3rd and 4th innings.   Nearly 40% of the homers have been hit in the first three innings.   Three home runs have been hit in extra innings, each winning a ball game; Musial in the 12th inning in 1955; Red Schoendienst in the 14th in 1950; and Tony Perez in the 15th in 1961.

Players with the St. Louis Cardinals lead all teams in the total home runs hit — 12 (Musial 6, Ken Boyer 2,

Frank Prisch 2, Joe Medwick and Red Schoendienst 1 each).  Detroit leads the AL teams with 11 (Rocky Colavito 2, Al Kaline 2, Rudy York, Hoot Evers, Vic Wertz, George Kell, Ray Boone, Dick McAuliffe, and Bill Freehan, one each).  The White Sox are the only non-expansion team that has not had a representative hit an All-Star home run.

The only disputed home run was hit by Augie Galan of the Chicago Cubs in the 1936 game in the Boston Braves’ park.    It hit the flag pole in right field and glanced into the stands in foul territory.   The American League protested until assured that it was a standard ground rule in the Boston park that a ball hitting the flag pole was a home run.

The first dramatic game-ending home run hit in the series was Ted Williams’ 9th inning home run with two out, and two men on base in Briggs Stadium in 1941.   Arky Vaughan had already put the Nationals in what appeared to be a secure position with home runs in the 7th and 8th innings each with a man on base to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead.   The Americans had narrowed the margin by one in their half of the 8th, and when the Nationals failed to score in the top of the 9th, they carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth with Claude Passeau on the mound.   But Passeau got into trouble.

Frank Hayes, Philadelphia A’s catcher, led off with an infield fly to the second baseman Billy Herman.   Ken Keltner, pinch hitting for pitcher Edgar Smith, scratched a single off the glove of Boston Braves’ shortstop, Eddie Miller.   Joe Gordon then singled to right, but Keitner had to stop at second base.  Passeau then walked Cecil Travis, to fill the bases.  The situation was tense as Joe DiMaggio came to bat.  He grounded sharply to shortstop Miller for what appeared to be a game-ending double play.   Miller’s throw to Billy Herman forced Travis at second, but Herman’s unnecessary hurried throw to Frank McCormick pulled the first sacker off the bag and DiMaggio was safe.   Keltner ran home, making the score 5-4 Nationals.

This brought Ted Williams to the plate.  National League Manager Bill McKenchnie of Cincinnati had a conference on the mound with Passeau.  He decided to pitch to Williams instead of intentionally walking him and pitching to Dom DiMaggio, the next batter.  He also chose to leave Passeau in the box in preference to lefthander Carl Hubbell who was available to pitch to left handed Ted Williams.  The Nationals were ahead by one run, and there were two outs.   An ordinary hit by Williams would only tie the game, and Passeau had struck out Williams his last time up.  With the count two balls and one strike, Williams hit the fourth pitch deep into the second deck in right field for a home run giving the Americans a 7-5 win.

Another dramatic ending came in the 1950 game.   Over shadowed by Brooklyn batting star Jackie Robinson, “Red” Schoendienst, did not start in that game.  While sitting on the bench, he is reported to have remarked, “I am going to surprise all of you birds and hit a home run if I ever get into the game.”   This was quite a rash statement for one who had hit but 14 home runs in five and a half seasons up to that point.   In the 11th inning, Al finally got into the game.  Manager Burt Shotton, came into some criticism in the 11th when he had Johnny Wyrostek, Cincinnati Reds, pinch hit for Robinson.  Red, however, blunted some of the criticism, for when he came up to lead-off the 14th inning, he blasted the ball into the upper deck of the leftfield stands.  This provided what proved to be the winning run when the Americans failed to score in the bottom half.  The homer came off Ted Gray of the St. Louis Browns.

The longest game of the All-Star series was the 1967 game in the California Angels park in Anaheim.   The game was primarily a pitchers’ battle although all the runs scored were via solo home runs.  There were 30 strike-outs in the-15 inning game.  According to some of the players, this was the result of the late afternoon starting time for the benefit of TV audiences in the East that provided a difficult sun situation for the batters.

Richie Allen got the Nationals ahead in the second inning with a lead-off home run over the centerfield fence off Dean Chance.  Brooks Robinson, in the 6th inning, tied the game with a home run over the left field fence off Ferguson Jenkins.  Then for eight successive innings nothing but goose eggs until the top of the 15th.

Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Kansas City A’s, was beginning his fifth inning of pitching.  American League Manager Hank Bauer, Baltimore Orioles, stuck with Hunter to avoid using hurlers who had pitched on Sunday, and thus be on one day rest.  Orlando Cepeda, San Francisco Giants, hit to deep right field for the first out.  Then Tony Perez smashed a homer over the left field fence to win the game 2-1.  It is to be noted that all three home runs were by third basemen.

The most home runs hit in an all-Star game is six.  This was accomplished three times – in 1951, 1954, and 1971.  Beaten in the previous eight mid-season games, the American League’s power dominated the 1971 game in by a 6-4 score.  The Nationals drew first blood against Oakland’s young sensation, Vida Blue, who cam into the game with 17 victories.  Blue hit Willie Stargell with a pitch in the 2nd inning, and then gave up a home run to John Bench, whose wind-blown blast landed in the upper right-center field seats.  In the 3rd, Henry Aaron got his first All-Star home run after 19 games with a blast in the upperdeck in right field to give the NL a 3-0 lead.

The Junior Circuit, however, got back into the game in a hurry in the bottom of the third.  Luis Aparicio led off with a single.  Reggie Jackson, batting for Vida Blue responded with one of the longest homers hit in an All-Star game.  It traveled some 520 feet, and would have left the park had it not struck a light tower.  Rod Carew was then walked by Pirate pitcher Dock Ellis, who still had a one-run lead.  Bobby Murcer and Carl Yastrzemski went out on infield pop-ups.  Next up was Frank Robinson, who was hitless in his previous 14 All-Star game at bats.  He homered into the lower right field seats to put the AL ahead to stay.

Harmon Killebrew put the wraps on the game for the American Leaguers when he touched Ferguson Jenkins for a roundtripper following Al Kaline’s single in the 6th.  Roberto Clemente got the final fourbagger of the game off Mickey Lolich in the 8th, but it came with the bases empty and was not enough to overcome the American’s lead.

With six homers hit in the 1971 game, and five in the 1969 contest, there is no reason why three or more could not be hit in the 1974 game.  That would bring the total to a nice round 100, an appropriate milestone for a year when so much attention is being focused on home runs.