Wednesday, July 15, 2015

All-Star Week: bring it back


The last time the Dodgers hosted an All-Star Game, my friends and I were fascinated by a new concept called "cable television."

It was the summer of 1980. I had recently watched "The Empire Strikes Back" at the movie theater. There were Olympic Games coming up, but no one was paying attention; the U.S. wasn't going. The most recent Olympics, the winter ones, had been held five months earlier in tiny Lake Placid, N.Y. I had no idea where that was at the time.

In 1980, gas was less than $1.20 a gallon and a first-class stamp was 15 cents. Something called "CNN" introduced people to the idea of "24-hour news."

On July 8 of that year, at my grandmother's house in Buffalo, I watched the All-Star Game on ABC from Los Angeles. Albert Pujols was six months old. Venus Williams was not even a month old. And Kim Kardashian wouldn't be born for three more months.

And the Dodgers haven't hosted an All-Star Game since.

In that time, 35 years now, the Angels have hosted the game twice. So have the Indians and the Pirates, the White Sox and the Astros, the Giants and the Twins. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have hosted the game twice ever. Once in 1959 and once in 1980. The 1959 game was in the Los Angeles Coliseum. So Dodger Stadium has hosted it just once.

By 2018, every major league city will have hosted the All-Star Game at least once since the Dodgers did.

It's far past time for Dodger Stadium to host it again.

I don't live anywhere near Dodger Stadium, so you might be wondering why I care. I probably can't go to the game or any of the All-Star activities or even view much of the media festivities surrounding the event.

I care because of what you saw in Cincinnati this week. When baseball and the All-Stars descend on the city hosting the game, the event becomes a tribute to that team and the city in general. We heard all about Pete Rose and Barry Larkin and Todd Frazier. We heard Joe Buck bag on "WKRP in Cincinnati" (jerk) and hear about Cincinnati's long connection to the game. (I heard a lot of it before, because Cincinnati also hosted the game in 1988 -- eight years after the Dodgers last hosted it).

To give you an idea of what I mean, I'm showing the only All-Star Game program that I own. It is from that 1980 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. It is filled with great stuff ... and, a lot of Dodger stuff, too.


There is the logo from that game. Ain't it awesome?



The brain trust in those days. Remember A.L. and N.L. presidents? Now we have One Supreme Ruler. If you're anything like me, you kept wondering last night why Jose Altuve kept batting against National League pitchers.


Back in 1980, you knew an event was the height of cool when the program featured mostly color photographs. That didn't happen a lot, but in the early '80s it was starting to happen more often.


The program featured stories on each of the All-Star managers for the 1980 game, Chuck Tanner and Earl Weaver.


Just some of the photos of past All-Star Game MVPs in this program.


Since the game was in Los Angeles that year, there are several references to the Dodgers, in stories and pictures. This is just one of the photos of Steve Garvey, and what he accomplished in 1974, which in my mind is one of the greatest All-Star feats ever, is mentioned two or three times. Garvey is still the only player to be written in as a starter and then go on to win the MVP award for the game. Let's see Mike Trout do that.

I like this program so much because of the Dodger references. There are cool photos of Duke Snider (who went into the Hall of Fame that year), Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax and a guy announcing the broadcast that year:


The late, great Don Drysdale during his TV broadcasting days. Nice collar.


Baseball's big technological innovation in 1980 wasn't calls decided by instant replay or any such monkeying with the game. It was merely more entertainment for the game.


Diamond Vision made its debut at Dodger Stadium in the All-Star Game in 1980 and people could now see pictures on the scoreboard. It was pretty amazing.


So amazing that the program devoted an article to it, too.


There is an article on the first All-Star Game in 1933 along with pictures of both squads. Here is the American League team.


And there is a rundown of every All-Star Game up until 1980 (I wonder if the program still does this?). This was my favorite part of the program. And the 1979 All-Star Game is still my favorite All-Star Game.


Another thing I loved was a page devoted to all of the ballot candidates for each position. With color mug shots! Here is the list of N.L. shortstop candidates.


Inside Sports was the coolest magazine ever at the time. It was like "Rolling Stone" except for sports. I was almost afraid to buy it off the newsstand for fear of what I might read. But I couldn't wait to get the next issue. This was more in your face than Sports Illustrated, or so I thought at the time.


Here's a look at the American League shortstop ballot candidates. You can't convince me that every one of those people pictured there is not better than Bucky Dent.


I miss paper ballots. Evil, evil, tree-killing paper ballots. Miss them like crazy.


Pete Rose was everywhere in 1980 (even more than he is today), and he's everywhere in this program. Here he is on one of those baseball field safaris that they used to have in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and other places.

Old programs take me back to when I could see:


Randy Jones as a Padre.


Willie Horton as a Mariner.


And Dave Parker as a banana.


Yum!

In 1980, nobody watched their sugar intake. And they were a lot thinner, too. I don't know how that happened, but it did.


Here is a look at the previous time L.A. hosted an All-Star Game. In 1980, 1959 was 21 years earlier. That seemed like ages ago to me at the time, but now, of course, 21 years ago was only 1994. Pittsburgh hosted the All-Star Game that year. And then did it AGAIN in 2006.


Plastic Batting Helmets were a huge deal at this time. My brothers and my friends, we must have had just about every major league team between the bunch of us. We'd wear them when playing games and some adult would yell at us because they wouldn't protect us from being hit in the head and we were like, "who's hitting someone in the head?"

I never had a batting helmet bank or lamp, but this ad sure made me want to get one.


The Fox broadcast last night was pretty awful, particularly the announcers. I noticed a number of Twitter people mentioning how great it would be if Vin Scully was doing the announcing instead.

Well, newbies, you missed out. Scully broadcasted the All-Star Game on radio for many years, and then later in the 1980s, he did it on TV for NBC. And, lordy, it was so much better than Harold Reynolds.

I know that Dodger Stadium will be hosting the All-Star Game in the next few years. There's been talk about baseball looking at granting the team the game. Meanwhile, it's in San Diego -- AGAIN -- in 2016, Miami in 2017 and Washington in 2018. After that, they probably have to give it to an American League city a time or two. So I'm not expecting the Dodgers to host it until at least 2020.

That will be a full 40 years since the last time it hosted it. Completely outrageous.

But at least it will be a hell of a party.

And it will be:


9 comments:

  1. Cool post.... I loved the old paper ballots that you punched out. I think Veryzer might be the only guy worse than Dent

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  2. I still have some of those old paper ballots -- mine are from 1985 and 1986, I think. I love those things. And, I had a helmet bank too. The little plastic stop for the bottom always got lost.

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  3. I went to that game as an 11 year old as well as the day before where the players simply took batting practice and shavged fly balls. In typical LA fashion, the workout day was sold out.

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  4. I have no love for the Dodgers, but I will freely admit that that ain't right. It makes me wonder how it came to be that way... Always someone with a "sexy new ballpark" to host, and the Dodgers were always the bridesmaid, never the bride?

    Just to keep you honest... "By 2018, every major league city will have hosted the All-Star Game at least once since the Dodgers did"... except for Tampa Bay.

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  5. You will have to at least wait 3 more years as baseball has really been planning these out in advance. San Diego, Miami and DC are already in line.

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  6. Join the club. The all-star game has come to Oak-town only once... and I'm guessing that it won't be here again for a long, long, time.

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  7. "Well, newbies, you missed out. Scully broadcasted the All-Star Game on radio for many years, and then later in the 1980s, he did it on TV for NBC. And, lordy, it was so much better than Harold Reynolds."

    Oh pickles. I missed out. Still there's a reason right there for the Dodgers to host the ASG again, obligation for MLB to have Vin Scully to call the game again.

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  8. And on that date in July of 1980, I was a little less than 4 months away from being born. I too, love the paper ballots. Why should anyone get to vote 25 times period, let alone in a single day and then again all the other days? I have a feeling the online voting is only a gimmick that allows MLB to announce a new "highest vote count EVER" every single year.

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