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Tuesday, 13 July 2021 13:56

All Stars Can't Compare to 50 Years Ago

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I just saw a headline that read “MLB Celebrating the Greatest of All” in regards to the 2021 Major League Baseball All Star Game. Greatest of all? Come on. You’re kidding me.

I also have read in multiple places where fans, especially Mets fans, are claiming, and complaining, that Pete Alonso will have ruined his swing by participating in the Home Run Derby. Again…you’re kidding me.

As for Alonso, and anyone else who participates in a “home run derby,” it is absolutely absurd to think that someone’s swing will be affected. These players sport a swing that is geared to home run derby every game. Launch angles…exit velocity…linear weights…terms in 1971, 50 years ago, were associated with a NASA spacecraft launch are now the science behind hitting a baseball.

And it was 50 years ago, the 1971 All Star Game, that it truly was an exhibition of some of the “greatest of all” in baseball history. In that game, 21 players that went to that game in Detroit made it to the Hall of Fame.

Elected by the fans to the starting lineup for the American League were Rod Carew (second base), Luis Aparicio (shortstop), Brooks Robinson (third base), Carl Yastrzemski (left field), and Frank Robinson (right field).

Amazingly, those not selected to start, but were chosen as reserves were Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, and Al Kaline. Can you imagine where Killebrew, Jackson, and Kaline would not be in your starting lineup?

Jim Palmer was the lone pitcher to make it to the Hall of Fame from that squad.

For the National League starting lineup, the fans elected Johnny Bench (catcher), Willie McCovey (first base), Willie Stargell (left field), Willie Mays (centerfield), and Hank Aaron (right field).

Amazingly enough, some guy named Roberto Clemente was not in the starting lineup. Clemente? In what world would you see Roberto Clemente not crack the starting lineup for any team? Also starting the game on the bench were a couple of stiffs (lol) named Lou Brock and Ron Santo.

The National League pitching staff included, get this, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, and Juan Marichal. And none of them started! Some guy named Dock Ellis got that honor.

Oh…and also a part of that NL squad was the starting third baseman Joe Torre. But he did not make it to the Hall as a player – although his stats are better than many of his peers – rather he made it to the Hall as a manager. And there was one other person who was at that game, an icon who will probably never get to the Hall of Fame as that debate rages on…Pete Rose. He, too, did not start that game, regardless of the five different positions he played.

I remember that game 50 years ago. I still have the scorebook with the starting lineups written in it. What do I remember most from that game? I vividly can see a guy wearing an Oakland A’s uniform, with the No. 9 on his back, absolutely crush a pitch off of Dock Ellis in the third inning, and hit the light tower on the roof in right-centerfield of Tiger Stadium. That was before Reggie had become Reg-gie!

Oh…and a couple of other guys hit home runs for the AL in that game too – Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson.

It was obvious that you were seeing greatness when you watched those All Star games. Think about it…there were 21 players who were a part of that game that were elected to the Hall of Fame…and five others who were elected to the Hall in other categories. Just how many of the players in this year’s game do you think will be chosen for that honor?

The game has changed, and so has the mentality surrounding the game. Whether it be strategy in the game of baseball itself, or the way players are coddled, and their attitudes are much different than those who paved the way for them. Not only was it an honor to be chosen to play in the All Star Game, a lot of players actually needed the money that they received for being chosen to go to the Mid-Summer Classic. And even when there were two games that were played, the players still went. They wanted to go.

Today players feel the need to “take a break” and just “get away from it all.” I have a hard time thinking any of those players in 1971, even those who didn’t get to the Hall of Fame, would consider passing on the season’s All Star Game. And when you talk about the “greatest of all,” is what is being showcased this year really the greatest of all?

Read 2524 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 May 2024 03:13
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Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.