Reusse: 2014 All-Stars can try, but they won't top 1965

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2012 - 12:01 AM
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Six Twins were on the American League roster for the 1965 All-Star Game in Bloomington, including starting catcher Earl Battey.

Photo: Anonymous, Associated Press

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The scheduling of the 2014 All-Star Game for Target Field became official with a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. Commissioner Bud Selig pointed out that this is now a six-day celebration, rather than the one-day event when the All-Star Game was played previously in Minnesota.

I think Bud was trying to make us feel good about that, but here is a guarantee: No matter the level of festivities, what takes place in Minneapolis in the summer of 2014 will never equal the game that was played on July 13, 1965, on the Bloomington prairie.

Minnesota's second All-Star Game came on July 16, 1985, in the Metrodome. It was a yawner worthy of the plastic baseball surroundings -- a 6-1 victory for the National League.

The only interesting aspect was Houston's Nolan Ryan coming on in relief and throwing fastballs toward the heads of both Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield. Allegedly, these bullets were fired due to Ryan's belief that he failed to repay properly grievances with Rickey and Winny before departing for the National League.

Selig was slightly off on his time schedule for the '85 game, since the Metrodome was occupied on the Monday afternoon before the Tuesday night game. The Monday attraction was batting practice for both teams, followed by the first official version of the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby.

This was a five-on-five team competition, with Tom Brunansky -- the Twins' lone representative -- striking the decisive blow to give the American League a 17-16 margin in home runs.

Considering the Twins' current predicament, the odds are strong that 2014 will be another summer when the host team for the All-Star Game will have a lone mandatory player on the AL roster.

That was not the case in 1965. The Twins had first baseman Harmon Killebrew and catcher Earl Battey as starters, and shortstop Zoilo Versalles, outfielders Jimmie Hall and Tony Oliva and pitcher Mudcat Grant on the 25-player squad.

You can put on a five-day Fan Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center, and have a Futures Game on Sunday, and a full-blown Home Run Derby on Monday, and a game to decide home-park advantage for the World Series on Tuesday, and it won't compare with the pride felt around Minnesota when the game's best arrived nearly a half-century ago.

We had become big league in 1961, but in such a hasty fashion that the expansion of Met Stadium still was ongoing during the early months of that first season.

There had been a 91-victory season in 1962, when the Twins were second and five games behind the dynastic Yankees, and another 91 victories in 1963 when the dang Yankees won 104.

The Twins fell back to 79-83 in 1964, and then came 1965, the year when we hit the exacta of a thrilling All-Star Game and a seven-game World Series.

The All-Star Game arrived in the wake of Harmon Killebrew's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory over the Yankees. This put the Twins five clear of Baltimore and the White Sox, and left the Yankees for dead at 14 1/2 games behind.

You can imagine the happy mood that Twins fans brought into Met Stadium on that bright Tuesday afternoon to watch the All-Stars. My old man, hustler that he was, had gotten some good seats maybe 10 rows behind the home dugout.

And what we saw that afternoon was a National League team that I insist was the best baseball team ever assembled, starting with this lineup:

Willie Mays-cf. Henry Aaron-rf. Willie Stargell-lf. Dick Allen-3b. Joe Torre-c. Ernie Banks-1b. Pete Rose-2b. Maury Wills-ss. Juan Marichal-p.

The backup outfielders were Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Billy Williams. The backup to Allen was Ron Santo. The pitchers that followed Marichal were Jim Maloney, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Turk Farrell and Bob Gibson.

How much did teams want to win back then? St. Louis removed Gibson after four innings of a Sunday start, then NL manager Gene Mauch used him to close down the final two innings of a 6-5 victory.

Harmon hit a home run for us. Tony-O hit a double off Gibson to get in scoring position with the tying run in the bottom of the ninth.

Top that with your six-day festival in 2014, MLB. There's no chance.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

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