all-star game, 1977

As long as the World Series lingers (thank you, Phillies), I’ll continue to give myself permission to post about baseball.amd_77asgprogram

In 1977, the All-Star game was played at Yankee Stadium. My brother Sam and I, along with my friend Kurt Nunez, decided to get bleacher tickets. So we hiked up to the Bronx in the middle of the night to be one of the first people on line. To make sure we got seats for what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.

The plan worked.

I don’t remember much of the game (though I do remember those long droopy mustaches, like the pitcher is sporting in the poster to the right). But I do recall batting practice. We got to the stadium early enough to watch the players hit moon shots into the stands.

I remember in particular Fred Lynn, the often-injured but perennial all-star center fielder for the hated Boston Red Sox. During his batting practice hacks, Lynn lofted a ball that seemed to be coming right at me. It landed a few rows in front of where I was sitting, close enough for me to rush to the spot, close enough to spot the ball on the cement floor, close enough to see someone’s hands wrap around the ball, then hold it aloft like a trophy.

Lynn was a defensive standout and had an amazing rookie year in 1975 for the Red Sox, winning both the Most Valuable Player award and Rookie of the Year. What I remember most about Lynn, though, is not his grace or his power, but the formidable outfield he was part of, an outfield that included Jim Rice, one of the great and consistent power hitters of our generation.

They were an interesting combination, Lynn and Rice – who both came up in 1975 as rookies. One white (Lynn), the other black (Rice). In Boston, players have said, being black was not always conducive to kind treatment. Boston, after all, was the last team to integrate, and that came about in 1959, a full 12 years after Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

That was the narrative I knew as a kid – that Lynn somehow received favorable treatment compared to Rice because he was white.

Rice later claimed none of this was true. So maybe the New York media got it wrong, played a racism angle to stoke our hatred of Boston, which Mayor Ed Koch once derided as “that town.”

All that was forgotten, though, in the moment that Fred Lynn’s ball arced into the sky and then grew larger as it – much to my amazement – headed right towards me.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “all-star game, 1977

  1. Ruth

    It was a good game tonight (almost as good as last night’s). I too thank the Phillies for keeping the series on for at least one more game.
    During baseball games played for thousands of adoring fans, as I watch the balls head out into the bleachers, and watch the fans move as a hoard toward the small white orb, I worry…I worry about fingers, feet, hands, heads. It’s a short worry, as so quickly someone gets to the ball and holds it aloft-sheer joy etched on their face, but I wonder…is there counseling for someone like me? 🙂
    I’m sorry you missed Fred’s ball, but I’m glad you still have your fingers…
    Ruth

  2. Paul
    I am enjoying your Yankee reflections.
    Kevin

    • ohnopauloh

      Thanks, man. Much appreciated. You’re a Red Sox fan, no? What was your recollection of Jim Rice and his treatment by the team and fans?

  3. Kurt Nunez

    Oh my God Paul! This is the “Kurt” mentioned in your post. Google alerts sent me an e-mail about this post. I have a lot of memories tied to that game as well. First of all, camping out in the Bronx is an adventure in an of itself. I remember not being too worried about it because Sam was with us. I remember coming home from scoring the tickets, turning on WPLJ and finding out Elvis died. But the thing I will remember most is the line up introductions. As you may remember I was a die hard Met fan. Tom Seaver was my idol as a little league pitcher. Seaver was traded to the Reds just a few weeks before that All-star game. When they announced his name I jumped up on my seat and started screaming. Everyone else in the Bleachers joined in, then the rest of the stadium and we gave him a ten minute standing ovation. The next day in the Daily News they wrote about it and said “Seaver was greeted with a ten minute standing ovation that started somewhere in the bleachers”. Without question one of my best baseball memories.

    • ohnopauloh

      Kurt! This is amazing. I didn’t recall that Elvis died right around that time, or that Seaver had been traded just before the All-Star game. Thanks for adding those memories.

      Hope you’re well. You’ll have to email me to let me know what you’re up to.

      • Kurt Nunez

        Paul, so great to connect again. I’m sure there’s a way to tell what your e-mail address is so I can reply off line but I can’t figure it out. Drop me a line at krnunez@cox.net. I had another memory of that game last night. Me and Sam laughing in the face of some Yankee fan litterally crying because Carlton Fisk was the starting catcher over Thurman Munsen. Looking back in hindsight however……..

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