Fifty years ago this month, baseball’s All-Star Game in Detroit featured a historic matchup of Black starting pitchers: Vida Blue for the American League and Dock Ellis for the National League. The Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates aces had combined for 31 wins in the season’s first half, but a power-hitting display ultimately stole the show at Tiger Stadium.
Six future Hall of Famers — Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and Roberto Clemente — hit home runs, accounting for all of the scoring in the AL’s 6-4 win. Jackson made the most memorable play with his third-inning homer off Ellis which struck a Tiger Stadium light tower. Check out the full story of the 1971 All-Star Game, written by Scott Ferkovich at the SABR Games Project.
Celebrate next week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game by visiting the Games Project’s collection of articles on past Midsummer Classics, featuring three games reaching their 75th anniversaries this year: the 1946 AL-NL game played at Fenway Park and highlighted by Ted Williams’s big day, and Negro League East-West Games held at Griffith Stadium and Comiskey Park.
Our All-Star collection also includes new articles on:
- July 12, 2011: National League wins first All-Star Game played in Arizona, by Dan Cichalski
- July 7, 1998: AL hitters erupt for 13 runs in highest-scoring All-Star Game in Denver, by Alan Cohen
- July 9, 1996: Hometown hero Mike Piazza shines as National League shuts out AL stars in Philadelphia, by Andrew Harner
- July 12, 1994: Alou’s hit, Gwynn’s slide lift NL to All-Star win as strike looms, by John Fredland
- July 11, 1989: Bo knows All-Star heroics: Royals’ Jackson homers in debut to win MVP honors, by John Fredland
- June 26, 1961: International League All-Stars buzzsaw big-league Indians with two-hitter, by Kurt Blumenau
Click here to read more All-Star Game stories at the SABR Games Project.
— John Fredland
Originally published: July 9, 2021. Last Updated: July 9, 2021.